Migraines forced Danny Spond into early retirement this August robbing him of one last season of college football. That hasn’t stopped the Colorado native from having an impact on the field for the 2013 Fighting Irish though and later today freshman Jaylon Smith will make sure everyone knows just how big a role #13 has played for this year’s squad.
When Danny Spond made the difficult decision to end his playing career early due to the chronic migraines that have plagued him throughout his career, he also made the selfless decision to remain a part of the Notre Dame football team as a mentor for the young linebackers. Every practice, every team meeting, Danny Spond was there as an extension of the coaching staff guiding the young Irish backers – specifically freshman phenom Jaylon Smith.
It would have been perfectly reasonable of Spond to distance himself from the program and not watch first hand day in day out others play the game he loved but was forced to walk away from despite having the talent to potentially play on Sundays. That’s not what Spond did though. He felt he owed it to the University and his teammates to do whatever it was he could do. Fighting Irish Digital Media had an amazing feature on Spond a few weeks ago that is must see TV for any Notre Dame fan where Spond talked about why he did what he did.
So instead of feeling sorry for himself, Spond mentored the young Notre Dame linebackers this year – specifically freshman phenom Jaylon Smith. Not many players could have or would have done what Danny Spond did, but that’s what makes Spond special and what makes him a true Notre Dame great.
Spond’s act of selflessness wasn’t lost on the young and superbly talented Mr. Smith. Later today when Danny Spond should be running out of the tunnel wearing his #13 jersey preparing for his final home game of his career, it will be Smith wearing his #13 as a tribute to a young man who exemplifies what means to be a member of the Notre Dame program as much as anyone I’ve ever seen since we started this website over 15 years ago.
Jaylon Smith has lived up to every bit of the hype of a 5-star recruit as a true freshman this year and Spond’s tutelage is a big reason for that. Smith has also shown that like Spond, he is exactly the kind of student athlete that makes Notre Dame special.
His tribute to his “big bro” is greatly appreciated by the young man whose number he will be donning out there today.
There are a lot of story lines this year on senior day from closure of Tommy Rees’s up and down career to the abrupt end of Lou Nix’s Notre Dame career after going through knee surgery this week, but the story of Spond and Smith is truly special and should serve as a reminder to all Notre Dame fans why it is we are fans of University of Notre Dame regardless of the outcome later this afternoon.
Here’s hoping Smith can really pay tribute to Spond today with a pick 6 or fumble return for a touchdown so we can all see Smith blaze into the endzone and run over to the sideline and deliver the ball to Spond.