Any Notre Dame fan who watches a Miami of Ohio game next year is going to see some familiar faces, and they won’t be limited to the sidelines in former OC Chuck Martin. Martin, now the head coach at Miami, will oversee a roster in 2014 that features at least three former Golden Domers.
Quarterback Andrew Hendrix, tight end Alex Welch, and cornerback Lo Wood will all be spending their 5th year senior seasons with Martin in Oxford, Ohio at Miami as all three look to crack the lineup for the RedHawks in their final seasons of eligibility.
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen this happen. When Charlie Weis became the head coach at Kansas, a trio of Notre Dame players who weren’t destined for much playing time if they would even had had the option to come back for a 5th year at Notre Dame transferred to Kansas to be reunited with their former head coach. Dayne Crist, Mike Ragone, and Anthony McDonald were all recruited by Weis and tried to revive their careers with him in Kansas last year.
None ended up having much success in their one season in Lawrence.
This year’s trio of Notre Dame 5th year transfers will be looking to have more success than their counterparts in 2012. Andrew Hendrix will try throw his name into the hat for winning the starting quarterback position. He’ll have the advantage of knowing Martin’s offensive style after being a quarterback for him the past two seasons, but he also has barely played since the 2011 season and his second half performance against USC was not indicative of a starting Division 1 quarterback.
Hendrix was a model student athlete and representative of the University during his four years at Notre Dame and it was clear that leaving Notre Dame was tough on the one time 4-star quarterback recruit based on his Twitter reaction to leaving campus the last time.
Lo Wood had some success at Notre Dame and even spent some time as a starter. Unfortunately for Wood, he lost the entire 2012 season due to a training camp injury allowing for the emergence of Keivarae Russell. This past season Wood ended up getting passed up on the depth chart by freshmen Cole Luke and Devin Butler as he worked his way back onto the field following his 2012 injury. Wood played most extensively in 2011 though when Chuck Martin was still in charge of coaching the Notre Dame defensive backs before taking over as offensive coordinator in 2012 so Wood has a good idea of what Martin looks for in a defensive back.
Alex Welch decided on transferring for his 5th year back in December, but it that was when it looked like Troy Niklas was a lock to return for his senior season. As we all know, Niklas is now headed to the NFL and Welch could have been in line for the first consistent playing time of his career in 2014 had he been invited back for a 5th year at Notre Dame. As is, Welch will look to take the learnings he gained in an offensive system built to create opportunities for tight ends with him to Miami.
Even if Martin is not able to get much production from Wood, Hendrix, or Welch on the field, the contributions he will gain from having them on his 2014 roster off the field should pay dividends in his first year as a head coach on the FBS level. All three will have a good idea for the type of program Martin will want to run based on their interaction with him over the last four years and should provide great leadership for Miami next year.
Despite all having difficult circumstances to overcome at Notre Dame whether it have been injuries or getting passed up on the depth chart, none caused a problem or drew attention to themselves. Instead they were by all accounts model teammates and student athletes for Notre Dame. For that, all Irish fans should be pulling for the three of them to all have success in their last years of eligibility.