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Report: Utupo awaiting clearance from NCAA

Brian Hamilton of the Chicago Tribune reports that Notre Dame freshman linebacker Justin Utupo is temporarily in eligibility limbo while the NCAA clearinghouse reviews his high school transcript:

Justin Utupo might not contribute more than scout-team performances to Notre Dame in 2010, but the school is working to ensure he can do even just that.

The freshman linebacker from Lakewood, Calif., did not practice Monday or Tuesday as he and Notre Dame worked through “administrative matters” that the school was hopeful to resolve in the next 48 hours, according to a football team spokesman.

It appears to be an issue with the NCAA’s initial eligibility clearinghouse, with Utupo’s records from Lakewood High School being reviewed, though the school would not confirm that.

A former Lakewood teammate of Utupo’s, USC freshman quarterback Jesse Scroggins, was recently sent home after coach Lane Kiffin said the NCAA Eligibility Center would not certify Scroggins to play. The optimism that Utupo could return to practice this week suggests Utupo’s case may not be as dire.

Utupo has earned kudos from the coaching staff, pushing his way into the linebacker conversation and being singled out for good effort by Bob Diaco and Kerry Cooks.

The NCAA clearinghouse is a tricky beast, many times targeting certain classes that are used as safe havens for students trying to get eligible. Utupo’s profile as a student-athlete doesn’t match-up with Scroggins, so as Hamilton points out, hopefully this means a quick resolution for Utupo.