Mike Ragone missed his entire senior season at Camden Catholic after tearing multiple ligaments in his knee during a high school wrestling match. Now the tight end will miss his entire sophomore season at Notre Dame with an injury to the same knee, which required surgery Friday morning to repair a partially torn ACL.
Notre Dame announced the injury Friday afternoon as the Irish finished training camp before tomorrow's scheduled off day. Ragone was not present at the practice.
"This summer while running routes, Mike tweaked his knee and partially tore his left ACL," said Charlie Weis in a statement Friday. "His two options were to have the knee fixed immediately or to brace it and try to play. He understood that eventually the knee would have to be fixed and he was hoping to do it at the conclusion of the 2008 season.
"Mike had continued to practice but felt his progress had deteriorated. Thursday afternoon, Mike came to me and decided that having the surgery done now prior to the start of school would be best. Together with Jim Russ and our team doctors, we quickly arranged surgery for late Friday morning. The surgery was successful and Mike will spend the 2008 season rehabbing to be ready for the 2009 season."
Losing Ragone robs Notre Dame of its starting tight end and leaves the Irish green at a position Weis regularly utilizes. Past tight ends John Carlson and Anthony Fasano developed into second round picks and Ragone has flashed much of the same potential, but with better straight-line speed.
After bulking up to 251 pounds this off-season, a nearly 30-pound bump from his high school weight, Ragone believed he was ready to make a major impact. He made just one catch for seven yards as a freshman to go with 113 special teams appearances, but Ragone moved into the starting lineup this spring during Will Yeatman's suspension.
But even after Yeatman's return, Ragone didn't concede the job.
"I feel good," Ragone said earlier in training camp. "The speed is still there. Everything is still good. I can always get bigger. I just want my speed to be there. You can be as big as a rock and if you can't move, what do you use it for?"
Ragone's absence opens the door for Yeatman and freshman Kyle Rudolph, with the latter one of Notre Dame's most impressive rookies during fall camp. The 6-foot-6, 252-pound athlete was ranked as the nation's No. 1 tight end by Rivals.com last year and will now challenge for the starting job.