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Injuries piling up for Irish defense

Springmann out; Spond’s decision opens door for Smith

Smith
Spond
Springmann

– One former Fort Wayne football standout will not play in Notre Dame’s season opener, while another will likely play more this year because of injuries.

Bishop Dwenger graduate Tony Springmann, a junior defensive lineman, will not play against Temple on Aug. 31 because of a knee injury, coach Brian Kelly said Saturday.

Springmann wore a brace on his left knee at practice Saturday. Kelly said the 6-foot-5, 296-pound Springmann, who had 11 tackles with two tackles for loss in 13 games last season, will undergo an MRI soon to find out the extent of the damage.

“Any time there’s a knee involved, you are always concerned. I can’t give you any definitive information,” Kelly said. “That’s probably one we’re a little bit more concerned with.”

While Springmann will miss the opener, Bishop Luers graduate Jaylon Smith, a 6-2, 230-pound freshman linebacker, could play more this season after senior outside linebacker Danny Spond informed the team he will no longer play football.

Kelly said Spond decided not to continue to play because of medical reasons, but the coach declined to go into details. Kelly said the Spond family plans to release a statement this week to explain the decision.

Spond missed most of last season’s fall camp and the first two games of 2012 after a severe migraine left the left side of his body numb. The 6-1, 248-pound senior started the final 11 games last season, amassing 39 tackles with 3 1/2 tackles for loss.

“It was an emotional decision, and it didn’t come without a lot of thought,” Kelly said. “He spent the day speaking to a lot of specialists and his family was here. This was not a decision that came easy. He loves his teammates. But what’s most important is he did what’s in his best interest for the future. He’s got a bright future.”

Spond was at practice Saturday and walked with a cane. Ben Councell, a 6-4, 254-pound junior linebacker, and Smith worked with the first-team defense Saturday.

“He’s going to stay with us. He’s going to help us coach the drops (outside linebackers),” Kelly said of Spond. “Who’s better qualified to give his experience to help us with Jaylon and Ben? … He has a special place on our football team.”

Smith was named the 2012 Indiana Mr. Football after leading the Knights to a fourth straight 2A state title last season.

“When it comes to coaching, if we make it that complicated that I can’t get Jaylon Smith on the field then we are not really good coaches,” Kelly said. “There’s some complexities to it, but I think we can make it so we get players like Jaylon Smith on the field.”

Notre Dame was also missing running back Will Mahone on Saturday. Kelly said Mahone has a high ankle sprain and could be in jeopardy of missing the opener.

Starting left guard Chris Watt, offensive lineman Conor Hanratty and running back Cam McDaniel also didn’t practice. Kelly said those three will be ready for the opener.

Freshman running back Tarean Folston missed practice because of a death in his family, and freshman linebacker Doug Randolph will have season-ending shoulder surgery, Kelly said.

tkrausz@jg.net

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