TE Tyler Luatua nixes transfer, rejoins Notre Dame football

Eric Hansen and Mike Vorel
South Bend Tribune

Tyler Luatua returned before he ever actually left.

On Feb. 1, Notre Dame confirmed that Luatua — a 6-foot-3, 255-pound tight end — intended to transfer from the university, with BYU later confirmed as the eventual landing spot.

Per the statement, Luatua intended to finish the spring semester at ND before departing, which he did. But he did not participate in Irish spring practice.

On Friday, Notre Dame released another statement — this one confirming Luatua's change of heart. The junior-to-be will remain at Notre Dame and rejoin the football program this fall.

"Family is extremely important to me, and I had a strong desire to get closer to them, which led to my initial decision to seek a transfer," Luatua said in the statement. "However, once I was able to truly sit down with them and talk about everything, it became obvious that Notre Dame has become my home.

"I regretted my decision and realized that this place is where I should be, and need to be, moving forward. I'm thankful that it worked out."

ND can absorb Luatua from a logistical standpoint, as it stands a scholarship short of the NCAA limit of 85.

"Tyler came to me in the last couple of weeks and expressed his unquestioned desire to rejoin the program," Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly said in the statement. "Fortunately, we're in a position from a roster standpoint to bring him back. He's most certainly grateful for the opportunity and I'm convinced this is the right thing for him."

The Paramount Calif., native was a block-first tight end in his first two seasons at ND, with zero career catches in 20 games, including four career starts. Luatua's lone career stat was a six-yard return on a squib kickoff.

He missed time each of the past two seasons with concussion issues.

Senior Durham Smythe, junior Nic Weishar and sophomore Alizé Jones all have starting experience. The other tight end on the roster, converted nose guard Jacob Matuska, made a smooth transition in the spring to playing offense.

The Irish did not have a tight end in the most recent recruiting cycle but have two commitments in the 2017 recruiting class, including the player regarded as the top prospect at that position in that cycle, Brock Wright of Cypress, Texas. He's joined by Cole Kmet of Arlington Heights, Ill.

Luatua's reinstatement bolsters a position group already rich in depth and talent.

RE: the reports that Tyler Luatua is NOT transferring from Notre Dame, here is what Andrew Trumbetti posted on IG.

— Mike Vorel (@mikevorel) May 12, 2016

Tight end Tyler Luatua (13) Saturday, August 15, 2015, at the Notre Dame football practice at Labar Practice Complex. SBT Photo/GREG SWIERCZ