Notre Dame loses six players from spring football roster
Notre Dame football’s scholarship situation already feels more manageable on the first day of spring practice.
Head coach Marcus Freeman shared following Wednesday morning’s practice that six players are no longer on the Notre Dame roster: linebacker Will Schweitzer, safety Justin Walters, quarterback Ron Powlus III, cornerback Philip Riley, offensive tackle Caleb Johnson and kicker Josh Bryan.
Walters, Schweitzer and Powlus have all medically retired from the program, which means they remain students on scholarship at Notre Dame, but they do not count against the football program’s scholarship limit. Riley, Johnson and Bryan are no longer with the program, Freeman said, which likely indicates that they will enter the transfer portal when it opens back up May 1.
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All six players are academic sophomores who would have entered next season with sophomore eligibility after redshirting to start their careers. None of them made significant impacts during their two seasons with the Irish.
The Irish are now projected to have 87 scholarship players when the remaining incoming freshmen and transfers join the team in June. Check out Inside ND Sports' Scholarship Chart to keep track of who remains on scholarship as an active member of the team.
LB Will Schweitzer
Schweitzer shared Wednesday on social media that he has a congenital heart condition, patent foramen ovale (PFO), that was discovered following a non-football medical event in in September.
That explained why Schweitzer didn’t play in a game last season. The 6-foot-4, 225-pound Schweitzer’s last game appearance at Notre Dame came in the 2021 regular season finale at Stanford.
Schweitzer played in three games as a freshman with action on the defensive line in blowout wins over Navy and Georgia Tech and special teams action against Stanford. Schweitzer’s fit in Notre Dame’s defensive scheme never became clear with him shifting from vyper defensive end to linebacker.
Schweitzer came to Notre Dame as a three-star recruit out of Los Gatos (Calif.) High. Rivals ranked him as the No. 30 weakside defensive end.
S Justin Walters
Walters’ Notre Dame career came to an end with seven games on his résumé.
The 6-1, 190-pound Walters tallied four tackles in his seven appearances. As a freshman in 2021, Walters played in four consecutive games on special teams starting with the Toledo game in the second week of the season.
Walters didn’t see the field again in 2022 after playing in three straight games on special teams against Cal, North Carolina and BYU.
Walters, a product of Bolingbrook (Ill.) High, came to Notre Dame as a three-star recruit ranked by Rivals as the No. 38 safety in the 2021 class.
QB Ron Powlus III
The late addition of Powlus to Notre Dame’s 2021 recruiting class never translated into an on-field impact. The 6-3, 227-pound Powlus didn’t play a snap in either of his two seasons with the Irish.
The son of former Notre Dame quarterback and current senior associate athletic director for Notre Dame football Ron Powlus joined the Irish following a high school career at nearby Mishawaka (Ind.) Penn. Rivals rated him as a three-star recruit but didn’t include him among the top 30 pro-style quarterbacks in his class.
CB Philip Riley
The 6-foot, 195-pound Riley played six late snaps on defense in Notre Dame’s 44-0 victory over Boston College last season in the lone appearance of his Irish career. As a freshman, Riley preserved a year of eligibility by playing in only four games. Riley did not record a stat in any game at Notre Dame.
Riley came to Notre Dame rated by Rivals as a four-star recruit out of Valrico (Fla.) Bloomingdale. The former USC commit was ranked as the No. 24 cornerback in the 2021 class.
OT Caleb Johnson
Sharing the same recruiting class with offensive tackles Joe Alt and Blake Fisher made it hard for Johnson to see the field at Notre Dame. In his two seasons with the Irish, he played once, according to Notre Dame’s official stats: the 2022 regular season finale at USC. And that may have been a participation list error.
Alt and Fisher have the starting left tackle and right tackle spots, respectively, locked up for the immediate future. The 6-6, 295-pound Johnson may seek playing time elsewhere.
Johnson flipped his commitment from Auburn to Notre Dame as a four-star recruit out of Ocala (Fla.) Trinity Catholic. Rivals ranked him as the No. 31 offensive tackle in the 2021 class.
K Josh Bryan
Notre Dame’s decision to turn to the transfer portal for kicking help the last two offseasons put Bryan’s future on the roster in question. The 6-0, 191-pound specialist did not play in 2022 and played in one game in 2021 in which he made his only extra point attempt against Georgia Tech.
Bryan came to Notre Dame rated by Rivals as a two-star recruit out of Chatsworth (Calif.) Sierra Canyon. Chris Sailer Kicking ranked him as the No. 1 kicker in the 2021 class.
South Florida graduate transfer Spencer Shrader, who will join the team in June, is expected to be Notre Dame’s starting place-kicker. Shrader attended Wednesday’s practice and was hanging out with former Irish kicker Blake Grupe, who played last season at Notre Dame following a graduate transfer from Arkansas State.
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