Brian Hamilton of the Chicago Tribune reports that Dan Wenger is going to formally appeal to the NCAA for a sixth year of eligibility.
Entering the season, Wenger had played in 29 games for the Irish and only two offensive players entering 2010 had more career starts than his 19. But the concussions suffered during preseason camp sidelined the Coral Springs, Fla., native for the entire year, with Wenger making more visits to specialists than to the huddle.
Irish coach Brian Kelly indicated along the way that Wenger’s career was in jeopardy, but that the player and his family would have to make a decision on what avenue to pursue. Evidently they have chosen to attempt a comeback
“The plan is to appeal for a sixth year,” Wenger said. “We can’t do anything until our season is over, so after the Sun Bowl, we’ll get working on it and get all the paperwork squared away and send it in and wait to hear back. If it’s a go, we’ll see me back here next year.”
Broadly, a player must demonstrate to the NCAA that he lost two years of competition to injury in order to win a sixth year of eligibility. Whether Wenger can win that argument — and a chance to participate in bowl preparation rather than just watch it — remains to be seen.
“Obviously it’s all up to the NCAA,” Wenger said. “Hopefully they’ll let me give it another shot. I couldn’t really tell you what the chances are. I am really optimistic, trying to keep a positive attitude about it. I keep telling myself, I’m going to get it, I’m going to get it. Whatever happens, it’s meant to happen the way it is.”
This has been something that’s been in discussions for quite some time, especially with the concussion issues costing Wenger his entire season and lingering injuries during his freshman season keeping him off the field then as well. But if you look at the depth chart, Wenger’s return could add some more veteran depth to the interior of the line, and add another candidate to the mix that’ll fight for guard job Chris Stewart will vacate.
It looks like Taylor Dever will be back for a fifth year, and guys like Andrew Nuss and Matt Romine are in the mix to return as well, giving the Irish some age-appropriate depth on the offensive line that hasn’t been seen since the first two Charlie Weis Irish squads.