By ERIC HANSEN
6:59 am, March 15, 2012
Irish Sports Report
SOUTH BEND — The Notre Dame running game picked up some extra octane
Thursday, when the NCAA waived USC transfer Amir Carlisle’s one-year
That not only means the 5-foot-10, 180-pound sophomore can be a part
of a deep running back stable — headed by 1,000-yard rusher Cierre
Wood — this fall, but the glut of talent at the position may allow
Irish head coach Brian Kelly to strengthen a couple of other areas.
Most notably cornerback and wide receiver.
“I want to thank Notre Dame and its compliance office for helping me
with this request,” Carlisle said in a statement. “I also want to
thank my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, for giving me the blessing to
play this year. I love being here at Notre Dame, and can’t wait to run
out of the tunnel this September wearing my gold helmet.”
First up, though, is spring practice, which kicks off Wednesday and
concludes April 21, with the annual Blue-Gold Game at Notre Dame
It’s rare for the NCAA to waive the mandatory one-year of fermenting,
but when it does, it’s usually done for family reasons. And right from
the start, Carlisle’s father, Duane, framed the transfer as a family
Duane was the strength and conditioning coach for the NFL’s San
Francisco 49ers from 2005-2010, but last March he took a job as the
director of sports performance at Purdue University — roughly a month
after Amir signed with USC.
“I want to publicly commend the exemplary work done by our compliance
office, specifically, Jen Vining-Smith,” said head coach Brian Kelly.
“Amir was going to be a great addition to our team regardless of
whether he was going to be able to compete for us this fall. Now we
know we’ll be able to use his talents on the field, and I’m very happy
Amir had strongly considered ND out of high school. The consensus prep
All-American at Kings Academy played in eight games for the Trojans
last season as a reserve. He rushed for 118 yards on 19 carries (6.2
avg.) and caught seven passes for 41 yards with one touchdown.
He missed the first three games of USC’s season with a high ankle
sprain, suffered during the final week of training camp. In his first
game, against Arizona State on Sept. 24, Carlisle reinjured the ankle
and suffered a sprained medial collateral ligament in his knee.
Carlisle played with a knee brace the balance of the season. He lined
up as a kickoff returner in the Trojans’ Oct. 22 trip to South Bend,
but he did not touch the ball in USC’s 31-17 victory.
He figures to touch it in a variety of ways for the Irish in the fall,
tag-teaming with Wood as part of a running tandem, but Carlisle also
has the ability to split wide as a receiver.
Carlisle, who achieved a 3.6 GPA in the classroom in his only semester
at USC, will have three years of eligibility at ND.
Wood, ND’s incumbent starter, technically has two years if he pursues
a fifth-year option in 2013. Senior-to-be Theo Riddick filled in at
running back late last season after Jonas Gray suffered a
season-ending knee injury, but was expected to be a hybrid wide
receiver/running back this season.
Carlisle’s availability may slant it even more so toward receiver.
George Atkinson III, originally recruited as a receiver, is an option
to move back to that position.
Then there’s cornerback, a position which lost freshman prodigy Tee
Shepard on Thursday, when the Fresno, Calif., product left ND.
Freshman KeiVarae Russell, a 6-0, 177-pounder, might be an option to
audition in the defensive backfield.
Russell played defensive back early in his career at Mariner High
School in Everett, Wash.
Incoming freshman William Mahone, sophomore-to-be Cam McDaniel and
junior-to-be Cam Roberson are also on the running back depth chart at
the moment, though Roberson suffered a serious knee injury last spring
and his return date is still unknown.
Michigan in prime time
Notre Dame football fans won’t have much of a wait this time for the
next night game at ND Stadium.
The university announced Thursday that the Sept. 22 home game against
Michigan will be a prime-time affair, with a 7:30 p.m. kickoff. ND’s
home matchup last season with USC was its first night game in South
Bend in 21 years.
Notre Dame’s off-site home game against Miami (Fla.), Oct. 6 at
Soldier Field in Chicago, will also be a 7:30 p.m. kickoff time. All
other ND home games will start at 3:30 Eastern time. All Irish home
games will be televised by NBC.
The April 21 Blue-Gold Game at Notre Dame Stadium, the annual wrap-up
to spring practice, will be televised by NBC Sports Network (formerly
2012 ND Football Schedule
(All times Eastern)
Sept. 1 Navy (Dublin), TBD, CBS
Sept. 8 PURDUE, 3:30, NBC
Sept. 15 at Michigan State, TBD, TBD
Sept. 22 MICHIGAN, 7:30, NBC
Oct. 6 MIAMI (Soldier Field), 7:30, NBC
Oct. 13 STANFORD, 3:30, NBC
Oct. 20 BYU, 3:30, NBC
Oct. 27 at Oklahoma, TBD, TBD
Nov. 3 PITTSBURGH, 3:30, NBC
Nov. 10 at Boston College, TBD, TBD
Nov. 17 WAKE FOREST, 3:30, NBC
Nov. 24 at USC, TBD, TBD
Ragone headed to Kansas
Tight end Mike Ragone has one more shot at a happy ending. It just
won’t happen in a blue-and-gold uniform.
The NCAA on Thursday granted the Cherry Hill, N.J., product a rare
sixth year of eligibility, but Ragone was not invited back to ND after
the 2011 season.
So he will take advantage of an NCAA rule that allows grad students to
transfer without sitting out, based on certain conditions. The
6-foot-4, 250-pounder, considered the nation’s top tight end prospect
in the recruiting class of 2007, will be reunited with former ND head
coach Charlie Weis at the University of Kansas.
“I’m pretty excited right now,” Ragone said via cell phone. “I want to
do big things, now that I have this chance.”
KU’s No. 1 quarterback is ND transfer Dayne Crist, who parted ways
with the Irish in December and is participating in spring drills.
Linebacker Anthony McDonald could make it a trio, but his transfer is
not yet official.
McDonald was a high school teammate of Crist’s at Notre Dame High in
Sherman Oaks, Calif. He was not invited back for a fifth year to ND.
Ragone underwent three reconstructive knee surgeries in 6½ years, the
first of which wiped out his senior season at Camden Catholic High
School. He missed the 2008 season at ND with another knee injury and
all but the first game and a half of the 2011 campaign with the third.
The first two surgeries were on the left knee, the third on the right.
“The (right) knee feels great now,” Ragone said. “I’ve been working
out at home since after the bowl game (Dec. 29). I plan to go to
Kansas this summer.
“It’s going to be great playing with Dayne again. He’s a great guy and
a great quarterback. I asked for one more chance, and I got it.”