Academic Investigation Could Lead to Major On-Field Impact for Notre Dame

Keivarae Russell - Academic Investigation

The Notre Dame community was rocked on Friday with the bombshell of an internal investigation into academic misconduct involving four members of the football team.  While not much is known at this time, we do know that the four players involved – Ishaq Williams, Keivarae Russell, Davaris Daniels, and Kendall Moore – are not practicing while the investigation is underway and their futures with the University are up in the air depending on the outcome of the investigation.

To be clear, none of the four players mentioned this point have been dismissed or had any disciplinary action levied against them other than being withheld from practice during the course of the investigation.  It’s possible that the investigation could lead to suspensions, dismissals, etc at some point but at this point we simply don’t know.

Since we also don’t know how long this investigation will drag out or when we may know the status of the four players involved, it’s probably safe to assume that Brian Kelly and his coaching staff have been spending a lot of time over the last 24-48 hours assessing their roster and what they will do should this investigation lead to disciplinary action.

(Photo: Robin Alam / IconSMI)

Here’s a run down of how the Irish roster would look like should they be without each of the four players involved in the investigation.

Ishaq Williams

The fallout from Notre Dame’s ongoing academic investigation looks like it could potentially have the biggest impact on the defensive end position.  Keivarae Russell is by far the best player to be associated with this scandal, but Notre Dame is better equipped to play without him better than they are Williams.   While the former 5-star DE hasn’t exactly lit the world on fire during his first three seasons, Notre Dame was already going to be forced to play a lot of freshmen up front following Tony Springmann’s injury.

True freshman Andrew Trumbetti was already listed as the starting weak-side defensive end and classmate Jonathan Bonner was in the two-deep as well at the three-technique.  If Notre Dame were to lose Williams, sophomore Isaac Rochell would probably be elevated into the starting lineup in Williams’s place.  Rochell has the size (listed at 287 lbs) to be able to hold up against the run on the strong-side.  It’s possible that Bonner could move over and provide some depth there as well.

While Trumbetti leap frogged Romeo Okwara at the weak-side, don’t look for Okwara to move over to the strong-side for Williams if necessary.  Okwara doesn’t have the size to hold up on the strong-side.  Notre Dame could be in worse position than having to start a sophomore who came in a year ago as a 4-star recruit but didn’t play as a true freshmen.  Given that the defensive and offensive lines are the two areas where you specifically don’t want to have to rely on freshmen, though, Notre Dame would have some serious challenges ahead of them if they lost Williams.

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Keivarae Russell

As mentioned earlier, Russell is the best player among the four linked to the investigation currently.  He had the potential to become an All-American this year and was considered a potential early NFL Draft candidate following his junior year.  All of that said, with the addition of 5th year transfer Cody Riggs on top of the talent Notre Dame already has at corner, the Irish can sustain a potential loss of Russell and still be OK at the position.

If Notre Dame were to be without Russell, Riggs and sophomore Cole Luke would be the starters with Matthias Farley and Devin Butler battling it out for the nickel position.  True freshman Nick Watkins has been impressive in camp already and was already slated to play.  His role would definitely expand should the Irish be without Russell for any extended period of time.

It actually speaks to the depth Notre Dame has built at the position that they could lose Russell, arguably the best corner they’ve had in years,  and still have a group as strong as Riggs, Luke, Butler, Farley, and Watkins ready to play.  Notre Dame also still has Josh Atkinson and Jalen Brown for depth at the position.

Also consider this.  In 2012 Notre Dame entered the season with a true freshman converted running back/wide receiver (Russell) and junior who had converted to corner from wide receiver just a year before (Bennett Jackson).  I don’t think anyone could argue that, at worst, Notre Dame would be in a similar, if not substantially better, position in 2014 if Riggs and Luke were the starters.

Davaris Daniels scores a 61 yard TD vs. BYU
Davaris Daniels scores a 61 yard TD vs. BYU in 2013 (Photo: Matt Cashore / USA Today Sports)

Davaris Daniels

This is another position were Notre Dame thankfully has enough depth, albeit inexperienced, built up to potentially sustain the loss of Daniels should they have to.  Notre Dame already went through the entire spring without Daniels while he was suspended due to his GPA dropping too low – something separate from this current situation.

Chris Brown and Will Fuller have been running with the first team at wide receiver so far in camp because Daniels was banged up and Kelly was making the senior earn his starting spot back.  Sophomore Corey Robinson’s role will greatly expand as well.  Early enrollee Justin Brent has looked strong in camp so far as well and is the most physically advanced receiver on the roster now.   Brent’s classmate Corey Holmes had a chance to see the field this fall even with Daniels available.  If Daniels ends up not being available, Holmes will almost certainly see the field.

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A starting duo of Fuller and Brown will be plenty fast for Notre Dame – potentially the fastest starting combo Notre Dame’s had in a long time.  The problem with these two as Notre Dame’s starters, aside from a lack of experience, is size.  Neither have great size or are known to be great blockers at this point in their careers.   For that reason, Robinson or even Brent could a chance to start given their size.

Notre Dame would be down to Fuller, Brown, Robinson, Brent, and Holmes as outside wide receivers and CJ Prosise, Amir Carlisle, and Torii Hunter at the slot this fall if they are without Daniels.  That is a group that still has a lot of potential but hasn’t had that much previous production.

Kendal Moore

The easiest player to potentially replace for Notre Dame is 5th year senior Kendall Moore.  I can’t remember Brian Kelly mentioning Moore once during any of his fall camp press conferences or post practice reports.  Even after a strong showing in the Pinstripe Bowl, Moore was expected to be more of a depth player and likely wasn’t going to be in the 2-deep to start the season anyway.  Joe Schmidt and Nyles Morgan figured to be one-two at the MIKE, Jaylon Smith and Greer Martini at the WILL, and James Onwualu and John Turner at the SAM position based on Kelly’s comments earlier this week.

The linebacker group is still a major concern for Notre Dame heading into the season, but a potential loss of Moore really doesn’t hurt that much given his position on the depth chart.  It would have been nice to have Moore for the special teams units, but even if Notre Dame loses Moore, they probably won’t feel the impact much on the field.

Losing all or any combination of these players for any period of time will make what was already a tough schedule even tougher for Notre Dame, but even if all four were lost for the entire season, there is enough talent on the current Notre Dame roster for the Irish to still have a meaningful and successful season.

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42 comments

  1. DA guy 5 years ago

    Hopefully, Burgundy can play qb.

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    1. Ron Burgundy 5 years ago

      I’ve got a wind sock for an arm these days.

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  2. SteelFanRob 5 years ago

    “Say no to hate”. Take your own advice, physician, and heal thyself. You have to be the most hate-filled person on this site. Do you even read your own posts, duranko? Would you like me to catalog some of the things you say about others on here? For instance, you just called me “Satanic”. How’s that not hateful?! You’re a hypocrite, duranko. And that’s not hateful, just truthful.

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  3. SteelFanRob 5 years ago

    Of course, like the delusional and self-appointed Pharisee you are, duranko, your over literal misinterpretation of my words are both lamentable and pathetic. Of course, I was using hyperbole when I referred to “our hated rivals”. Hyperbole is a figure of speech very familiar to both Jesus and the early Church fathers, who were also not above some more sobering words as well. Not that you’d know Jesus’ or a Church father’s words if they slapped you in the face (NOTE: I’m being sardonic, another figure of speech!).

    Moreover, I was speaking to JDH, not you, you self-righteous prig. That’s the “us” I was commenting on. Perhaps you should read more carefully before launching on one of your delusional and hate-filled tirades, duranko.

    Question whatever you want. I laugh at your delusional self-importance. Do you think I really care about what you think?! I couldn’t care less. The only reason I’m responding is to not give you the sick satisfaction of thinking you got one over on me.

    You are merely a darkest-souled, self-aggrandizing, pseudo-Christian, duranko.

    Has anyone else noticed that I never, ever address duranko, except to respond to one of his delusional attacks against me?

    Get over it, duranko, and get a life. BTW: thanks for proving the point JDH and I were making!

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  4. duranko 5 years ago

    Hey Rob, to paraphrase Samuel Goldwyn “include me out” when you talk
    about
    “our hated rivals.” Quit making sounds like a Pharisee and just say no to hate.

    I disavow you and your ilk of hate.

    As a Christian, I know that hate is a mark of the Satanic.

    And I question your Notre Dame bona fides. Notre Dame men, the real ones, have a lot of respect for our football rivals. Oft punctuated by
    hobnobs at tailgates of the other team’s fans. But civil, not filled with infantile profanity.

    And rob, just to have a non-Scriptural penumbra on this, did you ever hear the one about “when you point the finger at someone you have three fingers pointing back at you.” T or F?

    read my lips, Bubba whoever is in your “Us” and “Our” I am not.

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    1. K.C. 5 years ago

      Sometimes practicing Christians have moments of weakness. And in these non-Christian moments, if your mind wanders to thoughts about how much you hate Michigan and Michigan State, I think you’d be forgiven.

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  5. Mike 5 years ago

    I’ll tell you my agenda. I live in PA and the whole Sandusky thing made me sick. When I think that my tax dollars go to Ped State, it makes me livid. I’m a registered Republican who won’t be voting for Gov. Corbett because how they tried to minimize what happened. They actually had the audacity to fight with all their might to avoid the Death Penalty for the football program. ND has done everything it could with this. If you say that ND deserves no credit for simply doing what they should, I’m okay with that. Someone needs to tell Ped State that.

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    1. K.C. 5 years ago

      “If you say that ND deserves no credit for simply doing what they should, I’m okay with that.”

      Wow, a much needed simplification of the present reality without all the noise. Fantastic line. That one sentence is it’s own therapy session. Thank You!

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    2. K.C. 5 years ago

      “If you say that ND deserves no credit for simply doing what they should, I’m okay with that.”

      Wow, a much needed simplification of the present reality without all the noise. Fantastic line. That one sentence is it’s own therapy session. Thank You!

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  6. Damian 5 years ago

    I agree with other posters here that ND is handling this the “right” way. Academics comes first. I mean, how many schools would have dismissed their starting QB for cheating. Time and again, ND has proven that they are first an acedemic institution. Football is important and a big deal, but only to a point.

    I won’t name any specific schools, but we all know there are schools out there who would protect the football program first.

    One of the reasons I’m a ND fan is that they have proven you can win doing things the right way. Not to say they are perfect, like anything, they make mistakes, but you can clearly see their priorities are straight.

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  7. SteelFanRob 5 years ago

    JDH,

    I had finished a long-winded response when the computer crashed. Typical of another problem endemic on this site lately. I’ll take it as a sign.

    Thus, I won’t rehash what I tried to say other than to agree with you.

    I miss our old comrades and hope they are well, wherever they are.

    God’s speed and Go Irish!

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    1. DocBinge79 5 years ago

      Some of us are still here, but chose to sit back and just watch the peeing contests rather than take an active role.

      Keep fighting the good fight. I enjoy your posts and dedication to the cause.

      Go Irish!

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      1. SteelFanRob 5 years ago

        Thanks, Doc, but why so silent of late? You’re one of the sane voices on here, calming some of us more tempestuous types. Plus your ND football acumen is above average. Don’t be a stranger. The old guard needs to make a stand.

        GO IRISH!

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      2. DocBinge79 5 years ago

        Thank you, Rob. I made the mistake of almost stating this had been one of the more quiet off seasons (except for Malone). Then this thing popped up. My first test at ND was in Anthropology, and I got a 16%. I scrambled real hard and got a C. As a junior, I had three freshmen players in my section, and used to help type their English papers. I helped correct errors and hopefully made them better writers. I hope that wasn’t a violation of NCAA protocol. It has always been and always will be a tough school. (Ask Tee Shepard.)

        Kelly has a very talented staff that work well together. They recruit for needs in the roster, not all multiple star folks all the time. We are going to get burned deep a few times on defense but I am glad to be away from the “keep everything in front of you” mentality. If you’ve watched any of the practice footage, we have defensive backs in receivers’ faces at the line now, and the receivers are running routes well and Golson is putting the ball where it needs to go and most of the receivers catch the ball (or make it “uncatchable” for the defense). Good coaching. We have three very talented running backs and will have an offensive line like the good old days as long as Harry stays on and stays healthy.

        Killer schedule this year. If we lose these four guys, it will hurt. At best, they are only gone the first three games. Nobody knows what happened yet. I am hoping it is smaller than it is being made to be.

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  8. SteelFanRob 5 years ago

    JDH,

    Frankly, I don’t give a shit about Burgundy, his lies, half truths, or statistics. For some time now, if I address him at all, it’s about standing up for ND. My advice to you is to treat Burgundy like the pariah he is.

    This isn’t about “schadenfreud,” JDH. I for one take no pleasure in the scandals at other schools, even those of our hated rivals. However, we shouldn’t confuse what happens at ND with what happens in the SEC, USC, or Ohio St. I can assure you that whatever ND players have done would earn them Dean’s List at these other places. The real scandal here is that what ND is doing in investigating itself doesn’t happen on a regular basis throughout the NCAA.

    Burgundy: I’d rather root for Harvard or Yale than Bama or Ohio St.

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    1. JDH 5 years ago

      I agree that ND deserves proper credit for doing this on their own and that many institutions would simply cover it up. History shows us that to be true anyway. It’s interesting to me that Daniels (and apparently his father) are strongly denying the charges. I personally hope that points to his innocence! To me, the biggest blow would be the loss of Russell though. He is / will be an elite player this year and we need him desperately given the schedule.

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      1. SteelFanRob 5 years ago

        Agreed, JDH.

        BTW: Good to hear from you. It seems that we’ve lost some of the old-school posters. Where are JC, C-Dog, irisheye, fxm, and so many other friends (and sometimes foes) from the past?

        GO IRISH!

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      2. JDH 5 years ago

        I can’t speak for them SFR, but I can speak for myself and it has to do with the current “culture” of the site. Some of my lamentations you’ve already seen. Need I say more? 🙁

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      3. jeff 5 years ago

        Im here. I thought we were friends.

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  9. JDH 5 years ago

    SFR,
    My advice would be to not ever directly address Burgundy. He has appointed himself the conscience and head statistician of this site. Since he himself has written of other people’s citation of statistics: “There are lies, damned lies, and statistics”, I’m always wondering into which category his fall. Transparent in the extreme, he needs to constantly “correct” others to appear intellectually superior. Furthermore, he seems to relish the fact that no one really wants him on this site, as far as I can tell. (Awaiting an uber-witty quote from the movie. Again.)

    With that out of the way, I do agree that there is so much inherent hypocrisy in fans. If this was another school we didn’t like, many would be engaging in “schadenfreud”, which is somewhat understandable. I do give ND credit for being transparent and policing their own. Indeed, many places would cover it up. I’m waiting for all the facts to come out, but if it is as they are saying, Davaris Daniels should be given no quarter. He’s had his chance to make things right.

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    1. Ron Burgundy 5 years ago

      Shockingly I agree with everything you say.

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  10. DA Guy 5 years ago

    Clarett and Meyer would’ve been a great duo.

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    1. Ron Burgundy 5 years ago

      At what?

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