Torii Hunter Jr

Hunter’s recovery hits a snag


With the freshman class on campus and the football team starting voluntary workouts and summer school, the team is now in the hands of strength coach Paul Longo and medical trainer Rob Hunt.

That’s good news for an important recruiting class that will likely have a few early contributors come September. One athlete who doesn’t look like he’ll be ready to compete is wide receiver Torii Hunter Jr. The Texas native, who was drafted last week by the Detroit Tigers in the 36th round of the Major League Baseball draft, suffered a setback in his recovery from a broken femur.

The injury occurred at the US Army All-American game in early January, when Hunter’s leg broke in a non-contact drill. With a recovery time that was expected to take six months, the South Bend Tribune’s Tyler James caught up with Hunter, who said his femur isn’t healing properly.

This from James:

The hiccup in his recovery put a damper in his final month before heading to Notre Dame. Hunter had been regaining strength in the muscles above his knee, but was told to ease up the intensity level as the rest of the bone heals.

Hunter called the news depressing, but has tried to stay positive.

“I’ve been trying to keep the leg strong, doing my upper-body workouts and trying to stay in shape on the bike,” Hunter said. “There’s only so much you can do.”

His doctors at home haven’t given him a timeline of when the bone will be ready for increased exercise.

“They have no idea,” Hunter said. “It was supposed to be healed, but I don’t know. It’s just not.”

The January injury already had many expecting that 2013 would be a redshirt season for Hunter, but this type of news isn’t something you want to hear after six months of recovery — with an undetermined time line a scary ordeal for a young guy who has worked hard to get healthy.

In April, video surfaced of Hunter training, and Hunter said he was pain free. Working in concert with his doctors and the Notre Dame medical staff, Hunter’s summer will likely consist of rest and recovery now, waiting for his bone to heal properly.

Irish add commitment from CB Donte Vaughn

Donte Vaughn

Notre Dame’s recruiting class grew on Monday. And in adding 6-foot-3 Memphis cornerback Donte Vaughn, it grew considerably.

The Irish added another jumbo-sized skill player in Vaughn, beating out a slew of SEC offers for the intriguing cover man. Vaughn picked Notre Dame over offers from Auburn, LSU, Miami, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Tennessee and Texas A&M among others.

He made the announcement on Monday, his 18th birthday:

It remains to be seen if Vaughn can run like a true cornerback. But his length certainly gives him a skill-set that doesn’t currently exist on the Notre Dame roster.

Interestingly enough, Vaughn’s commitment comes a cycle after Brian VanGorder made news by going after out-of-profile coverman Shaun Crawford, immediately offering the 5-foot-9 cornerback after taking over for Bob Diaco, who passed because of Crawford’s size. An ACL injury cut short Crawford’s freshman season before it got started, but not before Crawford already proved he’ll be a valuable piece of the Irish secondary for years to come.

Vaughn is another freaky athlete in a class that already features British Columbia’s Chase Claypool. With a safety depth chart that’s likely turning over quite a bit in the next two seasons, Vaughn can clearly shift over if that’s needed, though Notre Dame adding length like Vaughn clearly points to some of the shifting trends after Richard Sherman went from an average wide receiver to one of the best cornerbacks in football, and Vaughn will be asked to play on the outside.

Vaughn is the 15th member of Notre Dame’s 2016 signing class. He is the fifth defensive back, joining safeties D.J. Morgan, Jalen Elliott and Spencer Perry along with cornerback Julian Love. The Irish project to take one more.

With Notre Dame expecting another huge recruiting weekend with USC coming to town, it’ll be very interesting to see how the Irish staff close out this recruiting class.




Days before facing Notre Dame, USC coach Steve Sarkisian to take leave of absence


When Notre Dame takes on rival USC on Saturday, they’ll be facing a Trojans team without a head coach. USC athletic director Pat Haden announced today that effective immediately, head coach Steve Sarkisian will be taking an indefinite leave of absence. Offensive coordinator Clay Helton will be interim head coach.

While the details are still coming into focus, multiple reports point to another incident with alcohol. Haden himself said that he made the decision after speaking with Sarkisian.

“I called Steve and talked to him. It was very clear to me that he is not healthy. I asked him to take an indefinite leave of absence,” Haden said, according to multiple Los Angeles media reports.

Sarkisian’s decision-making and alcohol use came into the spotlight this August when the head coach made inappropriate statements at a large booster event. Sarkisian addressed the media after the incident, acknowledged mixing medication with alcohol, and vowed to seek help and not to make the same mistake again.

Today’s incident appears to be a relapse, and one that requires immediate attention. Helton ran the team’s practice today and steps back into an interim head coaching role, a job he handled after the Trojans fired Lane Kiffin and Ed Orgeron left after not being awarded the permanent job.

“Fortunately or unfortunately, I have been in this situation before,” Helton said. “Once again, I’m very fortunate to have a group of first-class kids that are extremely talented and want to do something special here.”

This is the second major sports persona to leave his season to seek treatment in recent weeks. New York Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia left the team to seek treatment for alcohol issues. The Trojans are coming off an upset loss to Washington on Thursday night, losing 17-12 as a 17-point favorite.