SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Notre Dame's seven graduate student candidates have submitted their applications to be granted fifth-year status, and coach Brian Kelly said decisions on them should come shortly.
Quarterback Everett Golson, wide receiver Amir Carlisle, tight end Chase Hounshell, offensive lineman Nick Martin, linebackers Jarrett Grace and Joe Schmidt and defensive back Matthias Farley are those prospective fifth-year players. But with a freshman class of 24 arriving in whole to campus this summer, plus Cal transfer Avery Sebastian, Notre Dame is staring down 89 scholarship players for 2015 (per Scout.com) -- four over the maximum scholarship players allowed by the NCAA.
There will have to be a paring down of the roster, but Notre Dame has until Sept. 5 to figure out the situation.
"We’ve got until we kick off against Texas to get to 85," coach Brain kelly said. "It’s a salary cap. You gotta get to your salary cap, we’ll get to our 85."
Kelly hasn't sounded confident in the return of Ishaq Williams, who was among five players suspended for academic fraud last year. If Williams indeed doesn't return, it'd put Notre Dame at 88 scholarships. The Everett Golson transfer rumors won't go away any time soon, either, especially with the quarterback declining to speak to the media during spring practice.
Those seven fifth-year candidates would have the option to transfer into a one-year graduate program elsewhere, though Carlisle, Martin, Grace, Schmidt and Farley all appear to be locks to return and play significant roles in 2015. Center Matt Hegarty, who had one year of eligibility remaining, already opted to transfer for his final year of college ball.
Tales from the sick bay
Schmidt (ankle) participated in some skeleton and seven-on-seven drills during practice this week, though defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder quipped "he didn't last long" on Monday. Nose guard Jarron Jones (foot) has been able to do some drills during spring practice, too, though like Schmidt he hasn't been cleared for contact.
Kelly said he expects both Schmidt and Jones to be healthy enough to participate in summer conditioning and the team's nine OTAs in June.
Safety Drue Tranquill, who tore his ACL Nov. 22 against Louisville, has continued to accelerate his recovery as well.
"He’s moving extremely well," Kelly said. "We’re just holding him out — if we had to play, if we were playing a game on Saturday, he could play. Yep. He could play. We just don’t need to play him. It would be crazy to put him out there."
Notre Dame's Blue-Gold game Saturday (12:30 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network) will feature two 12-minute quarters in the first half in which quarterbacks will be live and Kelly hopes to get about 60 plays in. The second half will have a running clock, with Kelly estimating the offense will be able to run about 19 plays in each of the final two periods.
Attendance for the spring game is on an invite-only basis, though Notre Dame will show the game on campus on the video boards at Purcell Pavillion.
The format for the 86th edition of the Blue-Gold game:
The first half will have two 12-minute quarters with normal clock stoppages.
The second half will feature two 15-minute quarters with a running clock.
Clock stoppages will occur only due to injuries or timeouts.
No play clock
Offense will wear blue, while defense will wear white
Each team will be allowed three timeouts per half.
Halftime will last 15 minutes.
Quarterbacks will be live in the first half.
Each possession will begin on the 35-yard line.
There will not be any kickoffs.
All punts will be fair caught.
A scoring point system will determine the winner of the game.
There will not be an overtime period should the score be tied at the end of regulation.
Touchdown 6 points
Extra Point 1 point
2-point Conversion 2 points
Field Goal 3 points
Big Chunk Pass (25+ yards) 2 points
Big Chunk Run (20+ yards) 2 points
Touchdown 6 points
Turnover Forced Before 50-yard line 4 points
Turnover Forced After 50-yard line 2 points
Defensive Stop Before 50-yard line 2 points
Defensive Stop After 50-yard line 1 points
Safety 2 points
Sack 1 point