Tim Prister of Irish Illustrated is reporting today that sophomore wide receiver Kevin Austin will miss the 2019 season entirely. He is expected to remain enrolled at Notre Dame.
This renders an already depleted receiving corps further depleted as Austin was expected to be a major contributor this season after coming back from what was thought to be a four game suspension. The Irish lost receiver Michael Young for an extended period of time last week to a broken collarbone, a week after losing starting tight end Cole Kmet to the same injury.
The former top 100 receiver Austin had looked good in the summer, earning a “starving” designation for the work he put into the offseason program. He mainly worked with the backups in fall camp and was with the scout team when camp broke.
Brian Kelly ominously responded to a question about Austin’s status at the outset of fall camp when he said “as of right now, (Austin) was still on the team.” What was thought to be tough love may have been a bit of foreshadowing as to what might be coming down for Austin. What was once a promising career is now in jeopardy for the sophomore out of Florida.
What It Means For The Offense
Depth wise it’s a blow, given the injury to Young. The biggest blow is to the overall talent of the offense. They’re taking a top 100 player off the team. That’s not a good thing no matter the depth of the roster. You want all of your most talented players available to play. Chemistry wise is where it hurts the least.
When a player is known to be on the shelf for an extended period of time, as Austin was, the team naturally builds around that. They don’t count on you being around, the depth chart is formed without you as a consideration, your teammates earn their spot in your stead. Book and Jurkovec have been forming bonds with all of the other receivers. The team will take this news and move on, because they already basically have over the last few months.
What It Means For Austin
For one, no football for him this season. For two, it means his Notre Dame career is in peril. It should be noted there is a pretty good track record for players missing a season and still being a success story. Julius Jones, Brock Williams, Darrin Walls, Alize Mack, Everett Golson, and KeiVarae Russell all missed a full season at Notre Dame for various reasons, came back as starters and graduated from the University.
The key is getting back to the team, which is what should be the focus for Austin now. We don’t know the nature of his suspension, and there will be plenty of speculation which I won’t engage in here, but a good outcome can still be had here. But, it’s very much up to the player and student.