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Why Are So Many Players Leaving The Notre Dame Football Program?

So people think players are running for the hills- like that’s a new thing?

NCAA Football: Notre Dame at Southern California Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Before someone tries to scold me for the title of this story, it’s a legitimate question. Legit... ish (as I look into the longing eyes of Wes Sweigert) and I have a legitimate answer for why players are leaving the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

It’s the offseason, and with the offseason comes the season of attrition. PLayers are leaving for all sorts of different locations, and there is a sentiment growing in the fanbase that suggests that the attrition this year is because of Brian Kelly. The different phrasings of “they are running as fast as they can away from Brian Kelly,” are pretty much everywhere right now.

And while I can understand why so many fans think and feel that way, I just don’t see that reasoning as anything close to viable. With the most recent announcement of Devin Butler transferring for his final year, people are getting the wrong impression about what is going on.

Why do players transfer? Players transfer for a wide number of reasons, some of which include:

  • Playing time
  • Closer to home
  • Legal issues
  • Academic issues
  • Coaching changes
  • Personal issues with a coach or another player

Basically, a kid wants to transfer to try and better the situation in his life.

Let’s look at Notre Dame’s transfers so far:

NCAA Football: Notre Dame at Virginia Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

John Montelus. Montelus is heading to Virginia as a graduate transfer. Montelus has had issues with injuries throughout his career as an offensive lineman. He is buried on the depth chart, and last spring the staff moved him to the defensive line (and right back to the offense after spring). He really has a slim chance at seeing the field for Notre Dame this year, and is going to a school that offers him a better chance at playing and another educational opportunity. Playing Time.

Devin Butler. Butler, as was mentioned, is heading to Syracuse as a graduate transfer. Butler was suspended all last season for an altercation he was in outside a bar with a female and a cop. In his place, some really talented freshmen stepped up and progressed pretty well. Butler was never a true “starter” anyways. Playing Time & Legal Issues.

DeShone Kizer. Kizer is headed to the NFL and anyone with a pulse that was close to the program would have told you before the season even started that he was going to enter the draft after this year. Regardless of scouting reports, Kizer is all but a lock to be one of the first quarterbacks picked- if not the first. Round 1 money is hard to pass up. NFL.

Corey Holmes. Holmes is transferring and it actually slipped my mind (this is an edit). Holmes was praised as a speed burner in the spring, but issues with actually catching the ball haunted him all season. It was a bit strange that he was targeted so many time in the USC game, and you start thinking about next year- and then GONE. Holmes thinks he’s a number one WR, and wants a school that has a roster depleted enough to allow him the chance to be one. With the youth and talent Notre Dame has right now, it’s probably best for what he wants. Playing Time & Competition.

Malik Zaire. Zaire is headed to Wisconsin a school to be named next week. After becoming the starter in 2015, Zaire went down for the season in the second game and was replaced by DeShone Kizer. You know the story. This year, he was in a QB competition that lasted all the way to the first quarter of the first game of the season. Clearly Kizer was better, and Zaire was effectively benched for most of the year. One could speculate that he felt short-changed by Kelly, and would have rather transferred before this year started so he could get a full two years worth of playing time. Even with Kizer leaving, Zaire wanted out. Playing Time & Issues With Coach.

Army v Notre Dame Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images

Torii Hunter Jr. Torii is pursuing his dream to play professional baseball. Hunter has had a long list of injuries dating back to the end of his senior year in high school. He comes from a family of means, and with everything going on with his body (especially the concussions) football isn’t much of an option anymore. Life Changes.

What’s the deal?

First, and foremost, every player other than DeShone Kizer (NFL) listed here will be leaving Notre Dame with their degree. Give a round of applause for that nugget. As for why they are leaving...

  • A career backup looking to maybe finally play.
  • Health reasons.
  • NFL money.
  • Too much competition.
  • Playing time.
  • Coaching.

So, as far as the RUN FROM BRIAN KELLY AS FAST AS YOU CAN Y’ALL... I just don’t see it here. Zaire has a legitimate beef with Kelly, but who’s to say that he would even be able to beat Brandon Wimbush out next year (or Ian Book for that matter)?

I understand people are pissed. I’m pissed too, but blaming this type of roster attrition on Kelly is a little silly. I think Kelly has mishandled the roster as a whole, but that’s a recruiting problem.

Would Notre Dame be a better program in 2017 with these guys? Yeah, probably, but if they all stayed, maybe the Irish are hurting more in 2018? This is fairly normal, and I still expect 2-3 more transfers between now and the end of spring football.

Brian Kelly has his faults, but we can’t place this type of stuff at his feet and scream out TRAITOR, it’s just the way college football works these days.