Notre Dame starting DOG LB Danny Spond has officially ended his playing career according to head coach Brian Kelly on Saturday. An exact cause was not given by Kelly other than “medical” reasons although speculation is that the decision came about due to the concussion and migraine problems that have plagued the Colorado native’s career.
Spond missed the first two games of the 2012 season while dealing with migraine issues but returned for the Michigan State game and started every remaining game for Notre Dame including the BCS Championship. After missing practice over the last week or two speculation began to run rampant that his migraine problems had returned.
So far there hasn’t been any official word on the cause of Spond’s decision other than Brian Kelly telling the media that he did so because of medical reasons.
This is a huge blow for both Spond and Notre Dame. Spond was one of the more unsung heroes from the 2012 season and was poised for a big senior season as the starting DOG linebacker for Notre Dame. Spond had NFL potential – especially with a big senior season – but unfortunately will be unable to chase that dream any longer. Luckily for Spond, he will graduate with a degree from the University of Notre Dame, however, and still has a very bright future ahead of himself off of the field.
On the field, Notre Dame is now tasked with replacing their starting DOG linebacker – a player we recently ranked as the 16th best player on the 2013 roster – with the most likely candidate being highly touted freshman Jaylon Smith. The Fort Wayne native is no doubt talented enough to step in for Spond, but as a true freshman he just won’t be able to replicate the experience or leadership that Spond brought to the table.
Also in the mix to replace Spond will be junior Ben Councell. Councell, one himself a highly touted recruit, has not had much of an impact on the field to this point in his career, but now has a golden opportunity to seize a starting role and be a significant factor in the 2013 Notre Dame defense.
Kelly said on Saturday that a statement from the Spond family should be release at some point this week with more details. It’s hard not to just feel terrible for Spond who has been an excellent representative of the University on and off the field throughout his career at Notre Dame. Kelly did say that he will remain a member of the team this season and will travel with them which will be a good way for him to at least participate in his senior season after all the time and effort he devoted to the program over the last three years.
In other injury news, Tony Springmann was in a big knee brace on Saturday and has been ruled out for the Temple game. A MRI will confirm how much, if any, longer the senior defensive lineman will be out. Will Mahone is also in danger of missing the Temple game with what Kelly called a high ankle sprain. Chris Watt missed practice on Saturday but rode a stationary bike on the sideline and his availability for Temple does not seem to be in doubt.