Lost in all the Michael Floyd mess was the news that center Dan Wenger, who missed all of two full seasons with injuries, has been approved by the NCAA for a rare sixth year, thanks to medical hardship.
While the NCAA opened the door for Wenger to return to the field, after two serious concussions last season, that return will have to be at a different school, as the Notre Dame medical staff hasn’t approved Wenger to play for the Irish.
The South Bend Tribune’s Eric Hansen has the details:
“In good conscience, we just couldn’t clear him,” Kelly said. “I met with Dan and his family and let them know where we stood. But the young man still wants to play and I’m not going to stand in the way of that.”
With Wenger on the lookout for a final football season, the Florida native called on two familiar coaches, Florida offensive coordinator Charlie Weis and offensive line coach Frank Verducci, who both worked hand-in-hand with Wenger and understand what he brings to the table as a veteran lineman who can play both center and guard.
The deal is far from done, but it certainly could be a good fit, provided Wenger is healthy and able to return to form. The Gators are losing veteran center Mike Pouncey, who leaves a vacancy in the middle of the Florida offensive line.
With the numbers on the Irish roster incredibly tight, both Wenger and possibly Matt Romine are looking to continue their playing careers closer to home, and Kelly seems to be more than accommodating.
Chalk another poaching up to Urban Meyer and the Florida Gators of a top-flight defensive recruit, joining Justin Trattou and Omar Hunter of years past. Only this one, Irish fans probably should’ve seen coming.
Defensive end Clay Burton decommitted from Notre Dame earlier this week, accepting a scholarship offer from Florida, where his older brother, Trey Burton, is a quarterback.
“Definitely very excited, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity,” Clay told the Orlando Sentinel. “It’s everything to be able to experience this together and to have someone to confide in while we go through it and just basically be brothers. I wouldn’t rather spend time with anybody than him. We take this road together.”
According to the boys mother, Cindy, the decision to decommit was one that weighed heavily.
“Our family decision was that he would not commit somewhere and then decommit at a later time,” Cindy said, “so it’s very hard when you tell someone that you won’t decommit and then change your mind. But Clay really felt llike he had to take it.”
It’s hard to hold strong to a family decision when the hometown Gators come calling, and regardless of the good things Burton and his family have to say about defensive coordinator Bob Diaco and head coach Brian Kelly, this was a tough battle to win if the Gators stepped in and offered Burton.
The Irish still have offers out to high-profile defensive players Ishaq Williams and Ray Drew, and currently have blue-chippers Stephon Tuitt and Aaron Lynch already committed at defensive end, and Ben Councell, Anthony Rabassa already set as 3-4 outside linebackers. A loss is a loss in recruiting, especially at a position of need, but the Irish have other lines in the water and the position pretty well stocked. The Irish currently have 18 verbal commitments.