According to a report from Blue and Gold Illustrated, Notre Dame will have four fifth year seniors back in 2010 with one surprise returnee. Offensive linemen Chris Stewart and Dan Wenger and cornerback Darrin Walls have long been suspected of coming back for a fifth year, but running back Barry Gallup wasn’t a name that was discussed much in the fifth year senior debate. All four, however, will be back in South Bend in 2010.
Both offensive linemen, Stewart and Wenger, project as starters heading into fall camp. Stewart has been a mainstay on the Irish offensive line the last two seasons and should have a lock down on the right guard position. Wenger had been a two year starter at center heading into 2009 before losing his starting job in 2009 to classmate Eric Olsen. Without any offensive linemen with much playing experience at center though, Wenger will start the spring as the projected starter.
With Stewart and Wenger back in 2010, Notre Dame will have three offensive linemen with extensive starting experience – including rising junior Trevor Robinson.
Darrin Walls could also start the spring as a starter at his cornerback position. Walls had a very up and down season in 2010 after showing a lot of potential as a sophomore in 2007 before sitting out all of the 2008 season while he wasn’t enrolled at Notre Dame. His time away from Notre Dame was evident at times in 2009, but if he can tap into his vast potential he could rebound with a strong senior season.
Heading into the 2008 season, Walls looked primed to become the first lock down corner for the Irish since Shane Walton, but he was not enrolled at Notre Dame in 2008 due to personal reasons. He came back in 2009 and secured a starting spot in the spring. Unfortunately his ’09 season didn’t match his ’07 campaign resulting in Walls being in and out of the starting lineup throughout the season.
Gallup made his biggest mark through his first four years as a kick returner alongside freshman Theo Riddick and will likely be a factor in that role again in 2010. It’s unclear where he projects in the new Brian Kelly offense whether it be at running back or wide receiver.
Several seniors with fifth years available to them reportedly will not be back – Kallen Wade, Leonard Gordon, and Paddy Mullen.
Bobby Burger, a transfer with eligibility remaining, could potentially be back as a fifth year based on the report, but no official word on Burger’s status is available right now.