The push to get cornerback Nick Watkins back on the field this season is over. The junior cornerback, who broke his arm this spring, will have another procedure on a slow-healing bone, ending his 2016 season before it ever started.
“It did not take full growth and so he’s going to need an additional surgery. So he’ll be out for the year,” Brian Kelly said on Sunday.
Watkins was expected to be a starter for the Irish at cornerback after playing admirably as an emergency starter against Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl. A former elite-level recruit, the Dallas native played sparingly his freshman and sophomore seasons, struggling to win a job or a place in the rotation.
But the big junior season never happened, with an arm break near the end of spring ball never healing properly. That injury, Devin Butler’s suspension and Shaun Crawford’s achilles tear decimated the Irish depth at cornerback—a position that looked like one of the strength’s of the roster.
The silver lining is a medical redshirt for Watkins, who’ll have two years of eligibility remaining after this season.