Notre Dame WR Jay Brunelle could miss spring football after shoulder surgery

Carter Karels
South Bend Tribune

Notre Dame wide receiver Jay Brunelle underwent surgery on a separated AC joint in his right shoulder that leaves his status for spring football uncertain, a source with knowledge of the situation confirmed with the Tribune.

Irish Illustrated first reported the news.

The late-January surgery repaired a pre-existing injury Brunelle suffered in a game late into his senior season at Shrewsbury (Mass.) St. John’s High. He arrived at Notre Dame last month as one of eight freshmen who enrolled a semester early after signing to its 2020 class. He’s expected to be fully recovered well before the fall.

247Sports and Rivals did not project Brunelle as a plug-and-play option, tagging him as a three-star recruit. As an outside receiver, Brunelle figures to compete behind juniors Braden Lenzy and Kevin Austin Jr. and graduate transfer Ben Skowronek, among others.

The 6-foot-2, 200-pound Brunelle participated in some of Notre Dame’s winter workouts in his first days on campus. He had initially passed on surgery in November and hoped to return for full activity by spring football. But following Brunelle’s physical evaluation, the Irish medical staff determined an operation would ultimately be necessary.

The process of examining pre-existing injuries with incoming freshmen have not been uncommon since Notre Dame began accepting early enrollees under former head coach Charlie Weis in 2006. Linebacker Jack Kiser underwent surgery on a pre-existing partially torn labrum in his left shoulder last February just after arriving to South Bend.

Linebacker Drew White and former standout receiver Chase Claypool both underwent AC joint surgeries during their Irish careers. White suffered a skiing accident during spring break that resulted in a late-March surgery last year. He did not return for spring football but participated in all of August’s preseason practice. Claypool returned to full activity during spring football after his surgery in late December of 2017.

To become the first student to enroll at a university one semester early in the history of St. John’s High, a private all-boys school, Brunelle required a rigorous workload that involved adding more classes to his schedule.

“Their deal to me was if I really wanted to do this, I’m going to have to work for it,” Brunelle told the Tribune in November. “So that on their part, it doesn’t look like I’m cheating any system or letting it slide.

“I have to get up really early on Saturday and Sunday and almost work like it’s a normal school day until the mid-afternoon.”

Notre Dame extended Brunelle a scholarship offer after he competed at its Irish Invasion recruiting camp last June. He made his verbal commitment — which came later that month —official during the early signing period in December.

247Sports ranked Brunelle No. 103 at his position and No. 601 overall in the 2020 class. He caught 53 passes for 1,076 yards and 11 touchdowns in nine games last season.

Notre Dame wide receiver Jay Brunelle (1) could miss spring football after undergoing shoulder surgery last month.