The Notre Dame Fighting Irish’s defensive line will reportedly lose a veteran presence due to ongoing medical issues.
Irish Illustrated today reported that defensive tackle Daniel Cage plans to take a medical redshirt year in 2017, before contemplating either a return or retirement in 2018.
The 6-foot-1, 329 pound presence has suffered multiple injuries in his three seasons in South Bend, including three concussions. Cage’s mother, Bione, told Irish Illustrated that her son was still experiencing headaches related to his last concussion in November.
"We don't want to put him in an environment where it's risking a long term effect for a short term goal,” Bione Cage told the publication. “Right now his head aches, his knee is healing. The process has been overwhelming and he wants to make sure he's OK."
Cage, a Cincinnati native, logged 246 snaps in a relief role during eight games last year. He recorded 10 tackles, forced a fumble, hit the quarterback once and was responsible for 1⁄2 tackle for loss. In his career, he’s responsible for 32 tackles and five tackles for loss in 30 games.
Cage was seen as a reliable understudy for Jerry Tillery at the nose guard position. With his depature, the Irish are down to nine defensive tackles. Tillery is a workhorse, having logged 627 snaps last year. Jonathan Bonner is a capable replacement inside, appearing in all 12 games last year (255 snaps).
After that, the game experience falls off precipitously. Elijah Taylor appeared in three games last year (31 snaps), but is recovering from a mid-foot fracture. Pete Mokwuah played garbage-time minutes against Nevada Wolf Pack (13 snaps), accounting for most of his 18 snap career.
Juniors Brandon Tiassum and Micah Dew-Treadway have not yet seen the field, and freshmen Darnell Ewell, Kurt Hinish and Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa just joined the team last month.
Mokwuah, Tiassum and Ewell are the likely candidates to rotate with Tillery on the inside in Cage’s absence.