Notre Dame football resumes practice day after probe announcement

Bob Wieneke
South Bend Tribune

SOUTH BEND – Business as usual.

That seemed to be the focus of Notre Dame’s Saturday morning practice, the team’s first since the school announced Friday that it has launched an internal investigation into academic fraud allegations that involves four football players.

The four – starting cornerback KeiVarae Russell, starting defensive end Ishaq Williams, starting wide receiver DaVaris Daniels and reserve linebacker Kendall Moore – were not spotted at practice, which was held inside Notre Dame Stadium. Saturday’s practice was also Faculty Appreciation Day, with members of the faculty allowed to watch practice with family members from the west side of the stands.

Irish coach Brian Kelly, who was scheduled to meet with the media after the practice, was not as vocal as he has been during previous practices open to the media. The media contingent numbered about the same as it has throughout the early stages of preseason camp.

Sophomore Cole Luke jumped into Russell’s spot with the first team defense while classmate Isaac Rochell worked with the first unit in Williams’ absence. Sophomore Will Fuller worked with the first unit with Daniels gone. Sophomore Devin Butler worked as the third cornerback Saturday.

The four players at the center of the investigation remain enrolled in school and on scholarship.

Sitting out practice Saturday were tight ends Durham Smythe and Tyler Luatua, linebacker Doug Randolph, nose guard Jacob Matuska, wide receiver Justin Brent, as well as previously injured players Torii Hunter Jr. and walk-on cornerback Jesse Bongiovi. Tight end Mike Heuerman, who missed the start of camp recovering from a hernia surgery, returned to practice. Offensive coordinator Mike Denbrock, recovering from a recent surgical procedure, also attended practice.

Fuller appeared to come up lame on a route early in the workout and medical personnel were looking at his lower left leg. He continued to practice but did not appear to be running full speed.

Notre Dame will hold its annual Media Day on Tuesday.

Notre Dame running backs coach Tony Alford addresses his position group at practice inside Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday, a day after the university announced an academic dishonesty investigation which includes four football players. (SBT Photo/GREG SWIERCZ)