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Irish lose players

Notre Dame's spring football roster was shaken up by transfers and injuries.

Coach Brian Kelly confirmed to reporters Wednesday that sophomore receiver Davonte' Neal and Justin Ferguson will transfer and that running back Amir Carlisle and defensive end Chase Hounshell suffered injuries.

Neal and Ferguson are the third and fourth players from Notre Dame's 2012 signing class to leave the program. Quarterback Gunner Kiel decided to leave the Irish before spring practice began March 20, and cornerback Tee Shepard left the team two months after enrolling in January 2012.

"Davonte Neal and Justin Ferguson are no longer part of the football program, and they won't be in the future," Kelly said. "We wish them the very best in their future endeavors."

Neal, a 5-foot-9, 178-pounder, was primarily a punt returner last season, returning 21 punts for 46 yards. He also had one catch for a five-yard loss and one carry for seven yards.

Ferguson, a 6-foot, 192-pounder, also played primarily on special teams last season and had one reception for nine yards.

"This is a process every year we go through. You have some additions, you have some deletions, but we didn't miss a step," Kelly said.

Kelly said the Irish have plenty of options at slot receiver, which appeared to be a spot Neal would take over with the graduation of Robby Toma and Theo Riddick.

"Next guy steps up … we just fill it in," Kelly said. "When Amir comes back he will get a chance. C.J. Prosise (who is cross-training at safety and receiver) is doing a great job. Really excited about C.J."

Kelly also said early-enrollee James Onwualu could also step in at the slot position.

Kelly said Prosise will likely stay on offense now, and he will look at Prosise and T.J. Jones as punt returners.

Kelly told reporters that Carlisle suffered a broken collarbone and Hounshell re-injured the shoulder that kept him out last season. Hounshell will miss this season, Kelly said.

"He'll have to have surgery again," Kelly said. "Certainly feel terrible for Chase. After a second injury, you can imagine how disappointing it is for him and for us."

Carlisle is expected to by out for four weeks. It is the second injury for the USC transfer, who missed last season with a broken ankle after being granted a waiver by the NCAA to play without sitting out a season.

Kelly said Carlise had surgery Tuesday to repair the injury, which occurred during a contact drill.

"A minor setback," Kelly said. "Amir has had a great spring. We've seen what we need to see out of him."

Irish Illustrated reported that Notre Dame had a behind-the-scenes loss as director of football personnel Tim McDonnell left the program to join the New York Giants' pro personnel department. McDonnell is the grandson of former Giants co-owner Wellington Mara.

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