Aug 31, 2013; South Bend, IN, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish linebacker Dan Fox (48) and linebacker Jarrett Grace (59) tackle Temple Owls halfback Kenny Harper (20) in the first quarter at Notre Dame Stadium. Notre Dame won 28-6. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Notre Dame Football: Will Jarrett Grace Redshirt in 2014?

Notre Dame Football

Jarret Grace last played on October 5, 2013 against Arizona State. During that game, Grace broke his fibula in four places. Up until that moment, Grace tallied 41 tackles. If Grace did not break his leg, he might have ended the season as Notre Dame’s leading tackler.

Grace did not participate in spring football. In late March, doctors inserted a rod into Grace’s surgically repaired leg to help with the healing process. The doctors needed six weeks before they could determine whether or not Grace could play.

At a fundraiser in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Kelly pushed back the timetable for a decision. Fans, coaches and Grace must wait until late June to know if the Middle Linebacker will take the field in 2014.

The move of the decision really puts Grace’s 2014 season in doubt. If he gains approval from doctors, Grace gets only 2 months to prepare for the season. Not lifting in the lower body and practicing Brian VanGorder’s new defensive scheme during the off-season hurt Grace’s ability to prepare and be productive. If playing Grace means putting a weak and ineffective player on the field in 2014, the Irish should consider using a medical redshirt to preserve a year of eligibility.

However, without Grace, Notre Dame lacks quality depth at the Inside Linebacker position. Jaylon Smith, Joe Schmidt and Kendall Moore essentially make up Notre Dame’s corps at the moment. The Irish could receive contributions from Michael Deeb, Doug Randolph, Austin Larkin and Freshman-to-be Nyles Morgan.

Notre Dame needs a healthy Jarrett Grace for several reasons. Before suffering an injury against Arizona State, Grace bolstered Notre Dame’s front 7. Additionally, his leadership gives Notre Dame Football something that it lacked in 2013 and that it thrived on in 2012.

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