Sad news out of South Bend today, as senior linebacker Danny Spond announced that he’s retiring from football due to injuries.
Multiple sources have told me that concussions have ended the career of the versatile 6-foot-2, 248-pound linebacker from Littleton, Colorado.
(After discussing Spond’s retirement with someone inside the program, the story has been adjusted. Concussions did not end Spond’s career.)
Brian Kelly announced the news Saturday after practice.
“It was an emotional decision,” Kelly said. “It didn’t come without a lot of thought. He spent the day speaking to a lot of specialists and his family was here, so this was not a decision that came easy.”
Spond’s career at Notre Dame was riddled with injuries, but will mostly be remembered by an impressive junior season in ’12. After a major hit last preseason almost ended Spond’s career, concussion like symptoms put Spond in the hospital before being diagnosed as migraine headaches. Spond returned after missing the start of the season to take over the Dog linebacker job, bringing a versatile player to Irish defense, holding up against the run while becoming a key cog in the Irish pass defense.
Spond was expected to start again at outside linebacker until another hit ended his career during this training camp. While Spond is likely to explain in more detail the difficult decision to call it a career, the field-side linebacker position now becomes a two-man race between junior Ben Councell and true freshman Jaylon Smith.
Still, it’s difficult to look too far in the future without acknowledging the loss of Spond both on and off the field. Kelly said as much himself, talking about the importance of the player that was Kelly’s first committed recruiting target at Notre Dame.
“He loves his teammates, but I think what’s most important is he did what was in his best interest for his future,” Kelly said. “He’s got a bright future… He wants to be with the team, and our teammates were excited to hear he’ll be with us every day. He’ll travel with us. He’ll help coach.”