Notre Dame suffered its first loss of the season on Friday.
The University announced that starting cornerback Darrin Walls will not be enrolled at Notre Dame during the fall semester, stripping the Irish of perhaps their most talented player. Walls will return home to Pittsburgh, Pa., at summer school's completion for "personal reasons" although Notre Dame did not elaborate.
Sources tell Irish Illustrated that the reason behind Walls' departure concerns academics.
"We won't have Darrin with us this season but I hope to have him return for the spring semester," Charlie Weis said in a statement. "Fortunately, cornerback is a position of strength on our team and this will provide opportunities for increased playing time for our corners."
Unfortunately, none of those cornerbacks have the abilities of Walls, who led the secondary in pass breakups last season with nine. To put that in perspective, Terrail Lambert, Tom Zbikowski, David Bruton, Raeshon McNeil, Kyle McCarthy and Ambrose Wooden combined to break up seven passes last season.
Walls also made 32 tackles and one interception, returning it 73 yards for a touchdown during Notre Dame's 31-10 loss at Penn State.
It is unclear whether Walls will return to Notre Dame for his senior season or transfer. Efforts to reach father Darrin Walls Sr., were unsuccessful.
The loss figures to open a starting job for McNeil or sophomore Gary Gray, who took a red shirt last season. Freshmen Robert Blanton and Jamoris Slaughter would also be options.
Notre Dame also announced that senior wide receiver D.J. Hord had left the program to transfer to a I-AA school. Hord, among the most touted prospects in Notre Dame's 2005 recruiting class, finished his career with two catches for seven yards. He appeared in 12 games in three seasons, missing his entire sophomore year with an Achilles injury.
"I'd like to thank D.J. for all he has given to this team in his three years and wish him well in his future endeavors," Weis said.