Amir Carlisle granted immediate eligibility

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(Note: Developing story on Tee Shepard’s departure from Notre Dame coming…)

Running back Amir Carlisle, who joined the Irish football program for the spring semester after transferring from USC, has had his waiver request approved by the NCAA, allowing him to play immediately. The rising sophomore from Santa Clara, California will not have to sit out the 2012 season and will enter a running back depth chart filled with wildcards behind returning starter Cierre Wood.

“I want to thank Notre Dame and its compliance office for helping me with this request,” Carlisle said in a statement released by the university. “I also want to thank my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, for giving me the blessing to play this year. I love being here at Notre Dame and can’t wait to run out of the tunnel this September wearing my gold helmet.”

Carlisle’s ability to run out of that tunnel in September was an uphill battle likely won due to the unique circumstances that led to Carlisle’s transfer. A family move to Indiana after Carlisle’s father Duane was named the director of sports performance at Purdue uprooted the family from the Bay Area, where the elder Carlisle served as the head strength and conditioning coach for the San Francisco 49ers. After impressing in limited duty at USC during a freshman season that was plagued by nagging injuries, Amir decided to transfer to Notre Dame, the school that was the runner-up to Southern Cal on Signing Day a year earlier, and only 110 miles from his family.

“I want to publicly commend the exemplary work done by our compliance office, specifically, Jen Vining-Smith,” head coach Brian Kelly said in a statement. “Amir was going to be a great addition to our team regardless of whether he was going to be able to compete for us this fall. Now we know we’ll be able to use his talents on the field and I’m very happy about that.”

Carlisle will add an intriguing option to coach Tony Alford‘s stable of talent. With Wood the likely feature back, Carlisle will join an interesting battle with Theo Riddick as a unique cross-over option that should give the Irish offense under new offensive coordinator Chuck Martin some multiplicity. With the slot receiver depth chart behind Robby Toma unsettled, and running backs George Atkinson and Cam McDaniel not doing much during their freshman seasons, Carlisle will enter spring practice rejuvenated, and capable of working his way quickly up a depth chart very much undecided after the top spot.