The 2014 Notre Dame roster is starting to take shape already and the calendar only reads December 2. On Monday, Irish Illustrated reported that both Lo Wood and Alex Welch will transfer for their 5th years in an attempt to gain more playing time with their final years of eligibility.
For both players the decision makes a lot of sense as both did not figure to be factors for Notre Dame heading into next season and both will be leaving to pursue their football careers with degrees from the University of Notre Dame in their hands. Unfortunately for both players, both also had their carers derailed by injuries at Notre Dame.
With the fairly recent transfer rules for 5th year seniors, both will be eligible to play in 2014 without having to sit out a year since both have been at Notre Dame for four years and have graduated. Both will, however, need to enroll in a graduate program at their next school in a program that is not offered at Notre Dame as per NCAA rules.
Heading into the 2012 season, Lo Wood was set to be the elder member of the Irish cornerback corps with Bennett Jackson stepping into a starting role for the first time in his career last year and no other experienced corners on the roster. A ruptured Achilles in fall camp, however, cost Wood his 2012 season and allowed for the emergence of Kei’Varae Russell at corner. As he recovered from a tough injury to bounce back from in the first year following the injury, Wood also saw freshmen Devin Butler and Cole Luke ascend up the depth chart ahead of him.
Prior to missing the 2012 season, Wood saw some significant time at corner in 2011 including a highlight reel 58 yard interception return for a touchdown in the Shamrock Series victory over Maryland at Fedex Field in Landover, Maryland.
Welch also suffered an injury in fall camp last year which allowed for the emergence of Troy Niklas as the #2 tight end for 2012 and ultimately the replacement for Tyler Eifert and next tight end in line for Tight End U this year. As Welch recovered, Ben Koyack stepped up his game and emerged as a viable receiving weapon for the Irish with three touchdowns this year. With Niklas and Koyack both back in entrenched as the top two tight ends for 2014, there weren’t going to be too many opportunities for Welch next year.
Blue & Gold Illustrating is reporting that Wood is looking at schools close to his home state of Florida including Georgia Tech, UCF, and Florida. Who would have ever thought that a cornerback would transfer from Notre Dame for his 5th year for more playing time at Florida just a few years ago?
As for Welch, there is some speculation that he will be looking at a school closer to his home of Cincinnati to continue his career.
Both players have been model citizens on and off the field during their time at Notre Dame and have persevered through some adversity during that time. Hopefully both are able to find homes for the 2014 season where they will be able to make an impact on the field and continue their careers.
Last year Jake Golic transferred for his 5th year as well but the injuries that plagued him at Notre Dame followed him to Cincinnati and prevented him from pursuing his athletic career further. Some other notable players to transfer for their 5th season include Dayne Crist, Deion Walker, Anthony McDonald, Hafis Williams, Brandon Newman, and Mike Ragone.
The player who has seen the most success following a 5th year transfer, however, is Ronald Talley. Talley played his 5th year at the University of Delaware and has parlayed his transfer into a career in the NFL where he has been a member of the Arizona Cardinals for the last three seasons. Here’s hoping both Wood and Welch are able to have similar success with their endeavors as well.