Notre Dame's Slaughter applies for return in 2013
At least now there's a plan.
Notre Dame is in the process of filing a request with the NCAA for the fifth-year senior free safety to gain a sixth year of eligibility, Irish coach Brian Kelly said Thursday after practice.
Initially, after Slaughter suffered the injury, Kelly wasn't sure if the multi-year starter and ND's most versatile defender would have a strong enough case.
That stance has changed.
"Jen Vining-Smith from compliance is leading that," Kelly said. "She has been really good at filing those waivers and appeals, and she's in the process of that.
"Nothing will happen with that until after the season, because the NCAA is going to deal with immediate eligibility stuff, but we've got all of the paperwork, all the ducks in a row, if you will, to move that forward."
Slaughter collected 45 tackles, including four for losses, as well as a forced fumble and an interception in a full season of action for the Irish in 2011. He had eight tackles in roughly four halves of football this season before coming out of the MSU game on the first play of the second half in the eventual 20-3 Irish victory.
The 6-foot, 200-pound Stone Mountain, Ga., product can play safety, cornerback and outside linebacker, and his loss three games into the season figured to weaken an already suspect secondary.
But sophomore Matthias Farley jumped into the lineup and has been a revelation. And the rise of the secondary as a whole is one of the surprise stories in college football.
The Irish lose only senior starting strong safety Zeke Motta from their current starting secondary for 2013.
-- Another safety out for the year, junior Austin Collinsworth, has finally been cleared to lift weights following June shoulder surgery and is roughly a month away from returning to practice.
But Kelly was emphatic that there is no scenario that would prompt him to play Collinsworth in a game this season.
"We want to preserve that additional year of eligibility," Kelly said."
Collinsworth is eligible for a medical redshirt year, leaving him with two more years of eligibility, in 2013 and 2014.
-- Sophomore running back/return specialist George Atkinson III is back at 100 percent this week after a bout with the flu kept him from making the trip for last Saturday's 30-13 conquest of Oklahoma in Norman, Okla.
But the flu bug is still hanging around the Irish team.
"We had a couple of kids who are fighting through it," Kelly said Thursday night. "I don't think we'll have anyone miss the game, but we did battle through a couple of days of practice with some guys with the flu. We think we have it under control and it should not affect anybody.