One of the biggest questions this off-season will be how Notre Dame will get its roster down to 85 scholarship players by the start of the season – especially with the recent addition of 5th year transfer Avery Sebastian. Wednesday one piece of the puzzle came into place when Matt Hegarty announced that he would be transferring from Notre Dame for his 5th year.
Hegarty, a starter for the last 11 games of the 2014 season, had an up and down senior season following an admirable comeback from the mini stroke he suffered during the 2012 season. Inserted into the starting lineup in week three, Hegarty struggled at times along as the Irish offensive line took a while to gel last season.
Despite starting the last 11 games of the season, Hegarty was asked to switch positions by the Notre Dame staff this off-season according to a statement he released to ESPN.
“I am extremely grateful for the opportunity that the Notre Dame Football program has afforded me,” Hegarty said. “I want to thank Notre Dame, my coaches, my teammates and friends at school for the four great years I had at Notre Dame. I also want to thank the Notre Dame Nation for all of their support over the years. My focus has been to pour myself into everything that I have done at ND. I have worked hard and have always done everything that was asked of me. Recently my coaches informed me that they wanted me to change positions. They also explained that with many younger players in the wings, they wanted to develop them more heavily in the rotation — a need that I understand and appreciate.
The news of Hegarty transferring ends Hegarty’s Notre Dame career on a disappointing note after the one time 4-star recruit reported to South Bend with high expectations. After playing a reserve role in 2012, Hegarty played in 12 games in 2013 before appearing in every game this past season and starting 11 contests.
The position switch request from the staff is interesting. With Nick Martin expected to move back to center, Hegarty likely was headed back to guard where he would have had to compete with up and coming rising sophomore Quenton Nelson. Nelson, a five star recruit by some services, is expected to start next season which likely would have made playing time tough to come by for Hegarty.
Despite the transfer, Hegarty was very appreciative to the coaching staff at Notre Dame in his statement and will Notre Dame with his degree after graduating in May.
There is still going to be some difficult decisions for the coaching staff as they look to get down to 85 with an abundance of 5th year eligible players and what figures to be a real scholarship crunch for the first time under Brian Kelly and the first time at all at Notre Dame in a very long time.