Kelly: Decisions "Imminent"

Day 54 is not yet in the books, but through midday it seems similar to the 53 days that preceded for Notre Dame fans, the program's head coach, and a suspended quintet of football players.

At his weekly Tuesday press conference to preview the upcoming Irish foe, head coach Brian Kelly was asked, as he has been in 14 of his 17 press conferences held since suspicions of academic dishonesty among his players was made public, if he had news to report on the status of each.

"The only thing that I got (Monday) was the decisions were imminent and players would be notified," said Kelly. "Imminent meant to me, today, tomorrow…But I have not, as I sat and in front of you, been notified by anyone in the university or any of our players of any decisions regarding the players."

With Irish fans (and Kelly) hoping for the reinstatement of one or more, and a long-awaited conclusion purportedly on the horizon, Kelly admitted he has finally formed a plan for possible reintegration -- seven weeks and six games into the 2014 season.

"I think that there are limited roles that could find themselves come together, but I think it's hypothetical right now because I don't have any information," he said. "I was asked this question on our (Sunday) teleconference and it forced me to kind of give it some thought and I did.

"I think the overriding thought for me is, six weeks is a long time, there's no way that somebody's going to come back in and start on Saturday. We'll see how it plays out. If in fact we do have a player back we'll try to get them an opportunity to contribute, but it would have to be in a limited role."

Junior Keivarae Russell was a defined starter and arguably one of the team's five best players. Senior DaVaris Daniels a former starter, arguably among its top 10. Classmate Ishaq Williams was a career backup that appeared to secure a starting role midway through camp while senior Eilar Hardy was set for two-deep safety duties. Fifth-year senior Kendall Moore was slated for special teams work for a fourth consecutive season.

A player-by-player comparison greatly favors Notre Dame's 2014 replacements over their predecessors from 2013:

-- Sophomore cornerback Cole Luke had two interceptions Saturday vs. Stanford -- the number just one less than Russell tallied through 26 career starts.

-- Notre Dame's leading wide receiver through five games, sophomore Will Fuller, has amassed 28 receptions, 371 yards, and 5 touchdowns, numbers that surpass Daniels' five-game totals (21-318-4) at this point last fall.

-- A first-year starter, sophomore defensive end Isaac Rochell has registered 1.5 tackles for loss and six quarterback hurries. The former number matches Williams season total from 2013 while the latter is three times the career total of quarterback hurries officially credited to Williams through 35 games.

-- True freshman Drue Tranquill has, through the first five games of his college career, recorded 12 tackles, a half-sack, and a blocked punt. Entering his senior season this fall, Hardy had totaled 26 tackles, one for loss, with one pass defended.

-- Moore has little basis for comparison as a career backup inside linebacker. He was listed as Jaylon Smith's backup at the will linebacker spot but did not work with the second unit during media practice viewings in August.

At 5-0, Notre Dame is ranked No. 5 in the Associated Press Poll entering Saturday's contest vs. 2-3 North Carolina. The 2013 Irish, with the services of each of the suspended five while featuring none of the newcomers as starters, was 3-2 through five contests.

Each of the five missing players could help the Irish during the 2014 stretch run. Two, Russell and Daniels, could at some point breech the starting lineup. None of the quintet were needed during a 5-0 start.


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