Derrell Hand Suspended, DL Depth Hit Again

( – Head coach Charlie Weis announced on Friday that junior defensive tackle Derrell Hand was suspended indefinitely for a violation of an undisclosed team rule. No further details were given Friday, but the South Bend Tribune reported Saturday that Hand had been arrested for soliciting a prostitute. Hand is still enrolled at the University, but his status on the football team both in 2007 and in the future is in serious doubt. The only thing that is certain for now is that Notre Dame’s depth at defensive tackle took a hit it could not easily afford.

After spending his freshman season transforming his body into that of a college defensive tackle, Hand’s sophomore season was hampered by injuries. A full, healthy spring practice had Hand ready to challenge for serious playing time as junior this season. All reports this off-season indicated that Hand had been hitting the weight room hard in order to be ready for the upcoming season, but after Saturday’s news all that work may nave been for naught.

Regardless of how this situation plays out, it’s likely we won’t be seeing any of the junior defensive tackle this year which leaves Notre Dame even more short handed at a position they were already short handed at to begin with.

With Hand likely out of the picture, things get very dicey for the Irish along the defensive line. At the end of spring practice, the starting line appeared to be Trevor Laws and Dwight Stephenson on the ends and Pat Kuntz in the middle at nose tackle. Hand and sophomore Chris Stewart provided depth at tackle during the spring and Hand’s emergence was expected to send Stewart back to the offensive line.

Stewart could very likely end up staying at nose tackle for 2007 unless freshman Ian Williams steps in and shows he can make an impact from day one and even then, Stewart would still be needed for depth purposes at nose tackle. Without Stewart along the defensive line, Hand’s suspension would leave the Irish with just seven scholarship linemen.

If Stewart stay on defense, Notre Dame will have three tackles – Kuntz, Stewart, and Williams – and four ends – Laws, Stephenson, Kallen Wade, and Justin Brown. To put that in perspective, the Irish currently have five defensive linemen currently committed to this year’s recruiting class alone.

According to the same South Bend Tribune report, Weis had no further comment on the situation other than the news that he was suspended indefinitely so it’s possible Weis will not reveal any further details Monday during his first press conference of fall camp.


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