Max Redfield dismissed, Devin Butler suspended from Notre Dame football team

Eric Hansen
South Bend Tribune

The turbulent career of Notre Dame safety Max Redfield is over, two weeks before his senior season was set to kick off.

A day after ND’s projected starter at free safety was arrested in Northern Indiana, Irish head coach Brian Kelly on Sunday dismissed the former five-star prospect from Mission Viejo, Calif., from the team.

Five other ND players were arrested in two separate incidents Friday night/early Saturday morning, and all five also face various levels of discipline, with injured senior cornerback Devin Butler receiving an indefinite suspension from Kelly.

The university’s disciplinary arm could eventually add penalties on top of those imposed by Kelly, which could affect their standing with the team and/or the university. Prior infractions, some of which have not been made public, are factors when exacting consequences.

As it stands now, ND's already inexperienced defense will start a true freshman. Devin Studstill, in the Sept. 4 opener at Texas, backed up by another true freshman, Jalen Elliott. 

“During the past 24 hours, I have met with each of the members of our team involved in the two incidents that occurred over the weekend,’ Kelly said in a statement on Sunday, “reviewed the evidence available to me, and consulted with others involved in the leadership of our team and the university.

“That process has only served to deepen my disappointment in the poor decisions made by these young men. Their conduct fell far short of what we expect from those who represent our football team and this great university.

“On the basis of my review, I have decided to dismiss Max Redfield from our football team and place Devin Butler on indefinite suspension. The other individuals, while not being separated from the team, will be subject to disciplinary measures internal to the football program.”

“In making this announcement it is important to stress that all of the players involved in these two incidents remain subject to justice system and university discipline, and those processes could yet impact their standing with the University and the team.”

Six Notre Dame football players were arrested between Friday night and Saturday morning — five after a traffic stop in Fulton County in Northern Indiana and another after an altercation at a South Bend bar near campus.

Five of the players — linebacker Te'Von Coney, Redfield, wide receiver Kevin Stepherson Jr., cornerback Ashton White and running back Dexter Williams — were arrested on suspicion of possession of marijuana after an Indiana State Police trooper made a traffic stop in Fulton County in Northern Indiana just after 10 p.m. Friday.

Redfield, Stepherson and Williams also each face a charge of possession of a handgun without a license, according to a news release. All five players in Fulton County posted bond and were released on Saturday afternoon.

The sixth player, Butler, was arrested outside the Linebacker bar in South Bend and booked into the St. Joseph County Jail on preliminary charges of resisting law enforcement and battery on a police officer, according to police.

According to court documents., formal charges have not been filed. Instead, the state advised the court that it needs more time to gather additional information and evaluate the case in order to determine whether formal charges are appropriate, which was granted. That deadline is now Wednesday.

Probable cause was found. Butler was released on $1,000 cash bond Saturday afternoon.

"At Notre Dame, where we place so much importance on the integration of students who are athletes into the broader university, the primary responsibility for discipline lies, as it should, with the University's Office of Community Standards,” Kelly said.

“But even within that system, there are times when a player's conduct so clearly fails to meet the standards I have set for our football team that it is appropriate to take action independent of any decision that might be made by the Office of Community Standards.

“This is such an instance. The expectations we set for the members of our team are high, but they are especially so for the upperclassmen who are expected to provide leadership and a positive example to the other members of the team.

“Max and, at least at this stage in the review of his case, Devin, have failed in that regard and so have lost the privilege of continuing to be part of our team.”

Redfield was the only one of the six projected as a starter for 10th-ranked Notre Dame's opener 4 at Texas. Studstill and Elliott, have both been impressive in training camp, and Studstill — an early enrollee — actually surged ahead of Redfield on the depth chart in the spring.

Redfield was ND's fourth-leading tackler in 2015 with 64. His lone interception came against USC, the school he originally verbally committed to.

Redfield had finally appeared to turn the corner on a positive note on the field following a roller-coaster career that included being suspended from the Fiesta Bowl Jan. 1 for being late to meetings.

Sophomore Williams is a part of ND’s projected three-man running back rotation. Freshman Stepherson, an early enrollee, was a spring sensation. And while he is not a projected starter, Stepherson is an important cog in ND’s young wide receiver corps.

Coney, a sophomore, had been competing for a starting berth at weakside linebacker, though junior Greer Martini had recently surged ahead in that race. White, a sophomore, is not in the Irish two-deeps at cornerback.

Butler was not expected to play until at least October after suffering the recurrence of a broken foot in June. The senior does have starting experience but was expected to compete for a backup position when he returned.

Brian Kelly addresses the media after the Notre Dame football practice. (Tribune File Photo/MICHAEL CATERINA)