The return of Notre Dame linebacker Danny Spond to the football field in 2012 was one of the true inspirational stories of last year's run to the national championship game. As a starter at outside linebacker, Spond played a significant role in helping the Irish finish the 2012 regular season undefeated.
Unfortunately, Spond's football career is now over. Irish coach Brian Kelly says Spond informed the team he would no longer be playing football due to medical issues. Kelly says he didn't want to get into specifics as to why and would allow Spond to do so sometime next week.
Spond missed a significant portion of last season's fall camp and the first two games of the regular season due to severe migraines that at times left his body numb. After seeing a specialist at the University of Michigan, Spond began taking a daily medicine that helped him overcome the migraines and resume playing football.
He did just that and made some huge plays, including the game clinching interception to seal the win over BYU in October.
"What was pretty apparent was that it was an emotional decision that didn't come without a lot of thought," Kelly says of Spond's decision to stop playing football.
Kelly says Spond spent the day speaking to a number of specialists and that Spond's family has been in town with Danny during this time. Spond did not practice and was not even on the field last Friday when the media first saw the Irish work out. On Saturday, Spond was walking around the practice fields with a cane.
On Friday, Spond tweeted: "It's funny how a greater plan is too hard to understand. Right now it doesn't make sense... No I can't make it make sense.”
Spond is known as a team leader and a true class act on the team. He's beloved by his teammates.
"Danny Spond is like a brother to me," fellow Irish linebacker Prince Shembo said after practice Saturday. "When he told us--for me emotionally---I felt it. I'm still going to be there for him. He's intelligent, smart and lives life the right way so I know God has a plan for him."
Shembo says the decision has affected Spond a lot.
"It's a tearjerker for sure because we know what kind of guy Danny is," Irish quarterback Andrew Hendrix explains. "He's unbelievable--a kid of faith--everything you would want in a football player. We wish him the best."
Spond and his family are expected to release a statement sometime next week.
-Irish defensive lineman Tony Springmann has a knee injury that will require an MRI. Brian Kelly did not want to speculate on how serious the injury is but did say because its the knee, they have great concern. Kelly says Springmann is at least out for the Temple game, but there is fear it will be a lot longer than that. Springmann was wearing a boot and had his knee was wrapped at practice on Saturday.
-Running back Will Mahone was also in a boot and a brace that ran all the way up his leg. Kelly says Mahone has a high ankle sprain and will be out a couple of weeks. His status for the Temple game is up in the air.
-Offensive lineman Chris Watt sat out practice Saturday but Kelly says he will be fine for the Temple Game.
-Wide Receiver Daniel Smith practiced in a limited role on Saturday but Kelly says they believe the South Bend Clay product will be full go by next week.