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Kelly gives positive update on Grace’s recovery

Jun 8, 2014, 10:32 AM EDT

Temple v Notre Dame Getty Images

With Notre Dame’s veterans on campus for summer school and workouts, the South Bend Tribune‘s Eric Hansen caught up with Irish head coach Brian Kelly to get a status update on some important members of his team. And it appears that there’s positive news to report on linebacker Jarrett Grace‘s recovery from a badly injured right leg.

Grace broke his leg in four places against Arizona State last season in the Shamrock Series game, a serious injury to his right fibula that’s taken multiple procedures to repair. And while an additional surgery this spring looked like a setback that could’ve kept Grace off the field for all of 2014, Kelly reports that Grace is on the mend and advancing on a time table that has the team’s medical staff very happy.

“He had a real good X-ray the other day,” Kelly told Hansen. “He’s in great spirits and progressing very well. Obviously, the next few weeks are going to be key for him as he ups his movement. He’s probably in the best place that he’s been in a few months. Everything looks like he’s making the kind of progress he needs to make towards August.”

That Grace has the possibility to contribute to this team in August is amazing, considering where he was this spring, when he walked with a pronounced limp almost six months after the injury. Kelly has talked candidly about Grace’s recovery process, including the additional surgery this spring that was performed to help heal the damaged bone, and it appears that things are advancing well enough to give the linebacker a chance to play.

What Grace will actually do in August remains to be seen. But with senior walk-on Joe Schmidt and incoming freshman Nyles Morgan the only viable options to play inside linebacker, getting anything from Grace would be a huge bonus and a wonderful lift for a player that’s worked very hard to return from a setback that seemed career threatening.

Even after missing the 15 spring practices used to install Brian VanGorder’s new defensive, the Irish head coach didn’t sound concerned about Grace’s ability to catch on to a very different system. He was more worried about how the injury will effect the mindset of the Irish linebacker.

“Jarrett Grace has played a lot of football and has a great understanding of the game,” Kelly said. “So I’m not concerned about him (playing catch-up). My biggest concern will be, when does he gain that confidence back where he’s not thinking about the leg?

“And that won’t happen until he goes into camp and has the first tackle and sticks his nose in there and gets up and says, ‘Oh, I’m OK. I didn’t get hurt.’ To me, when guys have to come back from big injuries, it’s always been that confidence factor that’s the biggest hurdle.”

Grace played six games for the Irish last year at inside linebacker, in the starting lineup for three after replacing Manti Te’o at inside linebacker. After a slow start to the season, the rising senior had 41 tackles before the injury.


  1. chaunce922 - Jun 8, 2014 at 1:48 PM

    We need a veteran presence something awful in the linebacking corps, this is great news.

  2. bernhtp - Jun 8, 2014 at 1:52 PM

    This is good news – mostly an absence of more bad new – but Jarrett’s recovery and rebuild of strength/mobility still has a very long way to go before he can meaningfully contribute on the field.

    • nudeman - Jun 8, 2014 at 3:38 PM

      This is correct. A broken leg in 4 places and we are hoping for him to be back at 100% in less than a year?

      Sounds like a pipe dream, even considering his youthful healing ability.
      The other thing is this: How good is Grace, really?
      I recall last year that there was a prediction that he’d bring more speed and athletic ability than Manti. Didn’t see it. Ever. In fact for the most part the LB corps was below average even before he went out.

      Do I want Grace back and 100% healthy? Of course. But let’s not get carried away with an apocalyptic scenario if he doesn’t make it.

      • bernhtp - Jun 8, 2014 at 5:20 PM

        Judging by your thumbs down, there appears to be a lack of appreciation for frank assessment around here.

      • upthera44 - Jun 8, 2014 at 5:40 PM

        Teo is a high bar, whoever said that is… Anyway Grace was leading the team in tackles when he was hurt as I recall, so he could be a really important piece of the puzzle if things come together for him. Obviously healing, regaining confidence, regaining game form, etc, will need to happen for him to make a big difference. But that goes for lots of people, including Golson, Springmann, Hounshell, etc. It will be interesting to see who is able to make the transition and who isn’t.

      • bernhtp - Jun 8, 2014 at 5:46 PM

        I remember at fall camp a year ago, I didn’t include Grace in the top-twenty contributors and I was called crazy and irresponsible by a couple of guys.

        Jarrett is a great young man by all accounts, but he isn’t one of the stars on the team, especially given his long road back to athletic-level health.

      • mediocrebob - Jun 8, 2014 at 7:26 PM

        I think it’s a bit crazy to judge Grace one way or another based on the short amount of time we’ve seen him. The kid has talent no doubt but Te’o had an adjustment to college football as well.

      • onward2victory - Jun 8, 2014 at 9:24 PM

        Bern, if Grace was on pace to lead the team in tackles, then I think it’s safe to say he was a top 20 contributor before going down. Unless you have a prophetic ability to predict injuries, then you would have been wrong to leave him off your list.

        Will Grace be as good as Te’o? Of course not. But I have to believe he’s an upgrade from Schmidt.

      • nudeman - Jun 8, 2014 at 11:25 PM

        I have nothing against JG; didn’t know he was leading the team in tackles before getting hurt.
        Having said that, that was due at least in part because the DL was so mediocre AND a 3-4 D puts LBs in position to make a lot of tackles.

        My assessment is when healthy he’s a slightly above average player.
        And it is likely he’ll never be the player he once was. Terrible injury.

        But there is a tendency by all here, including me, to celebrate every recruiting victory like we just got Reggie Bush or Dick Butkus; and rue every recruiting loss like we just lost Reggie Bush or Dick Butkus.

        When ND lost Barnett, you’d have thought the Russians just landed in South Bend.
        He is nothing more than a highly rated HS QB, of whom there are many more
        And the statistics say he’s at least 50% likely to be a bust. (See “Crist, Dayne” or “Kiel, Gunner”).
        And there are a lot more LBs like Jarret Grace including some incoming guys who just might be better.

        Thumbs down just below

      • bernhtp - Jun 9, 2014 at 8:26 AM

        The Diaco defense was constructed to funnel the flow such that the mike LB would make most of the tackles, so that wasn’t surprising. Grace did not look good the first few games, but was starting to improve at the time he was tragically injured.

        I didn’t put him in the top twenty because I thought he would end up sharing snaps with Carlo and Fox. This was before Spond’s migraine incident caused him to finally retire and I figured they would find a way to get Jaylon on the field. You can disagree with this summertime assessment, but I didn’t understand calling it crazy.

      • papadec - Jun 9, 2014 at 7:55 PM

        frank who? And, why should we care what frank thinks?

  3. disenter - Jun 8, 2014 at 2:06 PM

    He’s got a ways to go to get back into game shape. I really hope this kid can find a way to contribute though, he was playing some good football last year, up until the injury.

  4. newmexicoirish - Jun 8, 2014 at 3:21 PM

    Keith I’ve had both of my questions I submitted to your mailbag segment now answered. It looks like Ty Isaac is going to Michigan (although I still don’t know if the Irish coaching staff was able to talk to him) and Jarrett is making good progress. I’m happy for Grace – we’re certainly going to need his contributions come August!

  5. jerseyshorendfan1 - Jun 8, 2014 at 5:21 PM

    Amazing Grace.

  6. mtflsmitty - Jun 8, 2014 at 6:20 PM

    Brandon Tiassum, 296 lb DT from Indi, commits to IRISH.

  7. scott24105 - Jun 8, 2014 at 9:21 PM

    Don’t forget about Michael Deeb as a MLB option

    • 4horsemenrideagain - Jun 9, 2014 at 11:24 AM

      absolutely! anyone who sleeps on Deeb is making a big mistake. well, maybe not a big mistake, but i’m looking for him to do some good things this year and make some plays/deliver some hits that cause the commentators to say “whoa, who is this #42 kid? Michael deeb. ok, remember that name…”

    • ibleedirish - Jun 9, 2014 at 1:07 PM

      Ok, good someone mentioned Deeb. It seems like he’s more or less a forgotten guy at this point on all the blogs, podcasts etc. He’s never mentioned. Is this because he isn’t panning out as hoped? No progress? Just not very good? I don’t know what I’m basing it on, but I had high hopes for him. Maybe unrealistic I guess.

      • nudeman - Jun 9, 2014 at 2:00 PM

        My recollection of him when he was recruited was that he was 100% all-in on ND, played with a ferocious style, but wasn’t necessarily the most physically gifted. Not a clod at all, but maybe just an inch short and couple 10ths of a second slow.

        I still believe he’ll contribute at some point. He’s only a soph.

  8. yaketyyacc - Jun 9, 2014 at 6:59 AM

    any time an injured player responds to treatment is a plus. it is sure better to have him listed with the active players. as to his ability or capability to return so soon, that answer will make the Fall game schedule that much more interesting. So Grace, grace us with a smashing season.

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