Kelly: Investigation Concluded

News of a fifth player suspended from the Notre Dame football team broke Thursday evening, with backup safety Eilar Hardy joining the previously suspended quartet accused of academic dishonesty.

Hardy has not been officially named but it was confirmed he was the only player to miss today's practice.

A silver lining in the day's events is that this appears to be the final chapter in the ongoing investigation from the football program's purview.

Head coach Brian Kelly met with the media after Thursday's practice inside Notre Dame Stadium and offered that the investigation is closed. Resolution regarding the suspended quintet could come as early as next week.

Kelly added that no other football players are involved and he has not heard any information regarding former players.

"I don't know what the outcome is going to be, but I do know we are now moving very quickly because we've concluded the investigation," Kelly said. "Now it's my knowledge of how our process works is that we'd obviously adjudicate rather quickly."

Hardy started two games last season, consecutively against Navy and at Pittsburgh to begin November, but was also suspended twice, first in mid-September at Purdue, then to conclude the season at Stanford. He was reinstated for Notre Dame's Pinstripe Bowl appearance vs. Rutgers.

Hardy was not listed on the two-deep depth chart released by Notre Dame Tuesday, though he was on a 26-player list of "Key Probable Non-Starters."

"For our football team, we feel this brings a big part of closure for us," he continued. "You never want to hear about a young man being pulled from practice and competition, but we've talked about this, there's accountability and responsibility and that will ensue here over the next week or so.

"But again, from my perspective, the most important thing now is we have some closure and we can move forward knowing that we can prepare our football team."

Home Cooking for Rice

The squad's final practice before its late-August season opener brought forth a rarely discussed reality of FieldTurf.

In the summer, it's hot.

"I can tell you it's about 10- to 15-degrees warmer in the stadium than it had been in year's past. It is warm in there," said Kelly. "It definitely makes a difference. I'm glad we've been in there and have acclimated to the heat. The rubber and sand definitely makes a difference.

"We feel a lot more comfortable in the field. It's a great surface, we're excited."

Wishful Thinking

Kelly noted Thursday that 5th-year senior Justin Utupo has shown enough in his final training camp to earn a (crucial) role spelling junior standout Sheldon Day along the youth-filled Irish defensive front. Utupo has earned additional reps at the expense of undersized defensive tackle, Chase Hounshell, a senior now two years and three shoulder surgeries removed from his last contest.

"Justin Utupo has done a really good job for us. He's been that guy that, I think, taken made some of (Hounshell's) potential reps -- as a veteran player. Justin's last 10 days to two weeks has been really good, he'll be able to spell Sheldon at the three-technique (DT). And then it's going to be a committee of big guys at that shade (nose tackle). (Jarron) Jones, and (Daniel) Cage is going to have to be in there, and Matuszak -- I keep saying (Former Oakland Raiders standout John) Matuszak -- I wish I had Matuszak.

(Jacob) Matuska. Matuska. He's healthy and ready. So you're talking about guys around 290 to 300 and Chase is just off that al title in terms of his size. So do you try him at that end position? But we've got some skilled guys at that, so he's just kind of -- he's been working his butt off. We're going to need him. He's just not in that rotation right now."


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