Earlier this week Notre Dame said that they would not be releasing the results of the two month academic investigation that has kept five players out of action all season but would let the players announce the results as they received them. On Friday, the first of the five, Keivarae Russell, made the news of his punishment public and the junior cornerback will not be suiting up for the Irish this season.
In an Instagram post, Russell posted the following message on Friday:
Though disappointed in the decision the school has just recently made after 2 long months of waiting for a decision to come, I accept it and will make sure I spend my time away efficiently. I will not be playing this season and will most likely miss the spring semester as well, but regardless, I will be back at this University in June 2015 ready to go in the summer, and ready to make history during the 2015 season! I want to ball with my brothers again and receive a college degree. I love everybody who has supported me during this prolonged process, and still continue to do so. Let me assure everyone that I will use this time to come back stronger mentally and physically. This hurdle won’t stop me from fulfilling my dreams. I am going to come back better than ever!! 7 months of constant training & work on my craft at Cornerback. I love my family, friends, fans, and my team! I am going to come back as the best corner in college football. TRUST ME. Stay tuned with me on this journey! #RoadToSuccess #GoodluckToMyTeamThisSeason! #VideoFromFreshmanYear
And with that, the first of the five is done for the season but will apparently be working on coming back in 2015 for Notre Dame. In Russell’s absence, Notre Dame has found a playmaker in the form of sophomore Cole Luke and used the skills of the 5th year senior transfer Cody Riggs to form a formidable cornerback duo despite losing the talents of a potential All-American like Russell. Had the Irish potentially gotten Russell back for the stretch run, however, their playoff chances would have been greatly enhanced.
News of the other four players have not been made public yet, but if Russell’s punishment is any indication the Irish are likely to be without their services as well.
Getting Russell back for 2015, however, is at least somewhat positive as it would give Notre Dame an elite cornerback to replace Riggs next season to pair with Luke. The only starter that will definitely be gone following the season on the defensive side of the ball is Riggs. All other current starters are juniors or have eligibility remaining.
While the entire situation is very disappointing, it’s great to see Russell accept the decision of the University without lashing out or bashing Notre Dame while staying positive. Russell could have explored potential transfer options or even the NFL, but instead he will be working hard to get back to Notre Dame and finish what he started.