Evaluating the Fifth Year Candidates

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On Monday, Brian Kelly announced that Zack Martin would be returning for the 2013 season. Martin is the first fifth-year candidate to be announced by Brian Kelly. These candidates are not guaranteed. Some are more likely than others. Some are not likely at all. Many of these are probably based upon contingencies. If a recruit decides to sign with Notre Dame then one of the fifth-year candidates will lose their spot. Here is a list of the fifth-year candidates and their chances of returning to Notre Dame for the 2013 season:

Nick Tausch, Kicker

Apr. 21, 2012; South Bend, IN, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish kicker Nick Tausch (40) kicks a field goal in the first quarter of the Blue-Gold Game at Notre Dame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

The Senior from Plano, Texas suffered a groin injury in September of this season which forced Kyle Brindza into the starting lineup. Tausch made a 34-yard field goal against Navy and was 5 of 6 on extra points. Tausch has not seen significant playing time since 2009. In that season, Tausch was 14 of 17 on field goals and was 27 of 30 on extra points. He is unlikely to return because of the numbers crunch. However, Brian Kelly may want an extra kicker. This season illustrates exactly why he may want one. If Kyle Brindza is injured while kicking or punting, Notre Dame would be forced to go a walk-on. An argument can be made that scholarships should not be given to kickers in the first place. So, selecting Tausch over another player would be extremely unlikely.