While the fate of Notre Dame’s five suspended players has yet to be confirmed by anyone officially involved with the investigation, cornerback KeiVarae Russell will not play in 2014.
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The preseason All-American candidate has received news from Notre Dame’s Honor Committee and addressed his teammates with the news on Thursday, two different sources confirmed.
Russell plans on returning to South Bend and the Irish football team. There has been speculation that the third-year cornerback was considering a jump to the NFL after the season, though that move isn’t happening now according to sources.
The loss of Russell has been felt since preseason camp, when the Irish defense opened without its No. 1 cornerback. A 26-game starter and the defense’s most experienced contributor, Russell was praised universally by coaches for his work on and off the field, a leader of his teammates and a valued member of the Notre Dame community.
On the field, Russell’s loss has been mitigated by the play of Florida transfer Cody Riggs and sophomore Cole Luke. Matthias Farley has played in a nickel back role while reserve Devin Butler has also played key snaps.
The fate of the other four players still awaits finality, with the appeals process and other considerations still being determined. Both Irish Illustrated and the Chicago Tribune have reported that it’s unlikely that any of the five players will return this season.
There is no official comment from Notre Dame. Brian Kelly said Thursday that it is in the hands of the student-athletes to further comment on their status with both the team and the university.
UPDATED: Russell has released a statement via his Instagram page.
Though disappointed in the decision the school has just recently made after 2 long months of waiting for a decision to come, I accept it and will make sure I spend my time away efficiently. I will not be playing this season and will most likely miss the spring semester as well, but regardless, I will be back at this University in June 2015 ready to go in the summer, and ready to make history during the 2015 season! I want to ball with my brothers again and receive a college degree. I love everybody who has supported me during this prolonged process, and still continue to do so. Let me assure everyone that I will use this time to come back stronger mentally and physically. This hurdle won’t stop me from fulfilling my dreams. I am going to come back better than ever!! 7 months of constant training & work on my craft at Cornerback. I love my family, friends, fans, and my team! I am going to come back as the best corner in college football. TRUST ME. Stay tuned with me on this journey! #RoadToSuccess #GoodluckToMyTeamThisSeason! #VideoFromFreshmanYear