Notre Dame often talks about a four-year decision turning into a 40-year investment for those who attend the university. For Steve Elmer, that investment is starting a year early.
The starting right guard announced Tuesday in a post on Notre Dame's official website he will forgo his senior season of eligibility to pursue a professional opportunity in Washington, D.C. He made it clear in his self-written story that he's not going to attempt to play football again, and that he wasn't in trouble academically or with the university.
Elmer admitted his decision may sound "crazy" but the Midland, Mich. native will graduate in May (he enrolled early in 2013) and pursue this opportunity.
"While playing football for Notre Dame has been nothing short of an honor, I have been presented with an incredible opportunity to pursue a career doing something in which I have great interest, and at a great company to boot," Elmer wrote. "The experience of balancing Notre Dame's academic rigors with my football commitments has given me a great foundation for my next endeavor. I will graduate from Notre Dame this May and start my professional journey this summer in the Washington, D.C. area."
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Elmer spent last summer interning for Michigan Congressman John Moolenaar.
Elmer would've been Notre Dame's most experienced returning offensive lineman, having started 30 games from 2013-2015. Without him, Notre Dame will have to find a new starting right guard, and redshirt junior-to-be Mike McGlinchey (14 starts) and redshirt sophomore-to-be Quenton Nelson (11 starts) will be the team's top returning offensive linemen.
Notre Dame already had to replace offensive line stalwarts in left tackle Ronnie Stanley and center Nick Martin from a group that last year was collectively a finalist for the Joe Moore Award, given annually to the nation's top offensive line.
A large mix of players could compete to fill Elmer's vacated spot, including redshirt juniors-to-be John Montelus and Colin McGovern, redshirt sophomore-to-be Jimmy Byrne and redshirt freshman-to-be Trevor Ruhland. Redshirt sophomore-to-be Alex Bars, who was expected to compete to replace Stanley at left tackle, could slide over to right guard as well (he played left guard when Nelson was injured for a few games in 2015 before suffering a season-ending fractured ankle against USC).
Any of Notre Dame's three incoming freshmen offensive linemen (Parker Boudreaux, Tommy Kraemer and Liam Eichenberg, all of whom are rated by Rivals as four-star players) could push to replace Elmer, too. All are listed as tackles by Rivals, but so was Elmer when he enrolled early at Notre Dame in January of 2013.
Elmer received support on social media from his teammates, who last week celebrated wide receiver Corey Robinson being elected as the university's student body president.
love you steve https://t.co/vFcNiew6pz
— Isaac Rochell (@Isaacrochell90) February 16, 2016
Proud of my guy Elmer!! Best of luck!! @Steve_Elmer ! https://t.co/axUB87MolT
— Jarron Jones™ (@Who_GotJones94) February 16, 2016
Coach Brian Kelly also supported Elmer's decision in a statement released Tuesday.
"Notre Dame is a special place that develops unique and talented people. Steve Elmer is such a person," Kelly said. "He chose Notre Dame to earn a degree from the top university in the world and play football at the highest level. He's accomplished both and so much more.
"This is an incredible professional opportunity for Steve. We as a coaching staff talk about how attending Notre Dame isn't a four-year decision; rather it's a 40-year investment into your life. This university provides so many different avenues toward success, whether that's on the football field or in the boardroom, and Steve's another outstanding example."