Ready for next challenge, Cwynar calling it a career

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Rumors swirled yesterday that defensive tackle Sean Cwynar, a key contributor along the defensive line, had been telling classmates in Notre Dame’s MBA program that he wouldn’t be coming back next year to Notre Dame. On Tuesday, Cwynar broke the news to the Chicago Tribune, explaining why he’s walking away from his fifth year of eligibility to begin the next chapter in his life.

“I talked to Coach Kelly last night about it and he reiterated it that he still wanted me, but he knew from previous talks that I was leaning toward other options, being able to utilize two awesome degrees from Notre Dame,” Cwynar told the Chicago Tribune. “I just don’t think staying around and taking one credit in summer and nine in the fall is a good use of my time. I loved my experience here but I just think it’s time for me to move on and pursue other things.”

While he won’t play out his eligibility, Cwynar is a model student-athlete that Notre Dame can be proud of. After spending much of the spring recovering from back and foot surgery, the Chicagoland native battled through a broken hand and the ascension of Louis Nix to be a valuable contributor along the defensive line of the Irish, making 23 tackles in 12 games for Notre Dame. More importantly, he’ll exit Notre Dame with an MBA and a degree, and a plethora of job opportunities that capitalize on his management consulting studies.

When projecting fifth year candidates, I always assumed Cwynar would be back. He’s a valuable veteran contributor along the defensive line, and while he gave way to Nix in the starting lineup, he’s a versatile lineman that can play in both three and four down alignments.

While walking away won’t be easy, Cwynar knows he’s done as much as he can academically at Notre Dame, and simply couldn’t validate a return next fall if there’s nothing more for him to pursue academically.

“It’s been really tough,” Cwynar said. “I’ve been thinking about it really hard for the past three months. It’s a huge decision to stop playing. I love the game and I love playing for Notre Dame. It’s one of best experiences I’ll have for the rest of my life. I’ll love the program forever and I hope they’re very, very successful in the future and I know they will be… I couldn’t imagine myself coming back and not being able to pursue anything academically. I just really think it’s time to move on.”

As the Irish plot out their 85 man roster, it appears John Goodman will be back in an Irish uniform next year, according to reports from several media outlets. Add to that a still growing recruiting class that also could include Armond Armstead, a versatile defensive lineman with one year of eligibility left, and the Irish won’t lack options up front, quite a different scene than you’d have expected even two years ago.

Cwynar’s scholarship gives Notre Dame added flexibility as they approach Signing Day. But it also provides another wonderful example for those keeping an eye on the Irish football program. Cwynar might be leaving his football career behind, but there’s no doubt he’s got a professional career in front of him.