Notre Dame’s most populated position group will be down a man for Saturday’s 87th annual Blue Gold Game as head coach Brian Kelly announced today that junior defensive lineman Grant Blankenship has been suspended for a violation of team rules.
Asked if Blankenship was expected back, Kelly offered, “That’s yet to be determined,” adding, “The standards that are set within the program have not been met. I will meet with him after the spring game and we’ll decide what the course is from there on out.”
Blankenship spent much of spring mired in the deep recesses of the Rush End position, one that currently features classmates Andrew Trumbetti and Jay Hayes, the latter moving from defensive tackle to end midway through spring ball.
Blankenship earned immediate playing time as a freshman in 2014, appearing in 11 games including each of the first seven through the team’s first loss at Florida State. He posted a career high three tackles in a win over Syracuse, finishing his first month of college ball with six stops, half of his total as a rookie.
He played sparingly after gaining more than 20 pounds to play the “Big End” position as a sophomore, appearing only against Massachusetts, Wake Forest, and Stanford in the 2015 campaign, recording his lone tackle vs. the Demon Deacons on Senior Day.
Said position coach Keith Gilmore of Blankenship’s efforts this spring:
“He has to continue to develop and I think his mental focus is probably his biggest issue. He has athletic ability but to play the game at this level, you have to be able to go every day from a mental standpoint and not make errors.”