Notre Dame Adds Legacy Graduate Transfer As Walk-On
It’s never too late to go back “home.”
Former Auburn walk-on fullback/H-back Keenan Sweeney, who was on scholarship his last two seasons with the Tigers while appearing in nine total games as a reserve, will be a graduate transfer at Notre Dame in 2018.
He will be a walk-on for the Fighting Irish, who currently have 87 players on scholarship and must get down to 85 by August, when practice begins.
Wrote Sweeney on his Instagram account: "Very excited to say I’ll be attending the University of Notre Dame to get my masters in Global Health. No better way to finish my football career at the university I grew up loving. Go Irish!"
The listed 6-0, 237-pound Sweeney — a four-time SEC academic honor roll member — is the son of 1979-82 Notre Dame fullback Dr. John Sweeney MD, Surgeon-in-Chief at Emory University School of Medicine in Georgia. His wife Patty also attended and graduated from Notre Dame in that same span. Keenan’s older brother Aidan was a graduate transfer at Notre Dame in swimming, another sport where the Sweeney family has excelled. His grandfather Jim, also attended Notre Dame during the 1940s. Dawgnation did an elaborate feature on the Sweeney family prior to Georgia's visit to Notre Dame last season.
Notre Dame’s offense does not list a “fullback” per se, but current sophomore tight end Brock Wright had that sort of role as a lead blocker in short-yardage/goal-line situations last season.
The elder Sweeney was a three-year starter for the Irish who had to immediately step into that role as a freshman in 1979 during the 12-10 win in the opener at Michigan when starting fullback Pete Buchanan suffered a season ending injury in a preseason practice.
Sweeney was the lead blocker for All-American and first-round pick Vagas Ferguson, whose 1,437 yards rushing during that 7-4 season remain the most in regular season history at the school (Josh Adams totaled 1,430 last year, including the bowl game). Sweeney carried nine times for 33 yards as a freshman.
As a sophomore in 1980, Sweeney carried 50 times for 202 yards for head coach Dan Devine’s final Notre Dame team that lost to No. 1 Georgia in the Sugar Bowl. He was a top blocker for the running back tandem of Phil Carter (931 yards when including the bowl) and Jim Stone (920 yards, including the bowl), who combined for 1,851 yards on the ground.
Under new coach Gerry Faust in 1981 Sweeney was a co-starter with Larry Moriarty, carrying 36 times for 168 yards and catching nine passes for 124 yards while scoring the lone touchdown of his career.
As a senior in 1982, Sweeney saw Moriarty, who would play six years in the NFL, take over as the top fullback.