Injury, suspensions, arrests, transfers...South Bend has become the Bermuda Triangle for backup tight ends over the last few seasons.
The troubling trend won't end in 2009 as Notre Dame announced today that sophomore tight end Joseph Fauria will not play for the Irish this fall.
Fauria is not enrolled in summer school. According to a statement from head coach Charlie Weis: "Joseph won't be with us this fall but I hope to have him return for the spring semester."
Fauria was slated for a key role as the team's second tight end this season behind classmate Kyle Rudolph. Fauria's improvement in the Spring and emergence as a physical "swing" tight end option ranked as one of the top offensive surprises last April.
The backup role will now fall to junior tight end Mike Ragone, who missed the entire 2008 season due to a knee injury suffered last summer. Ragone's strength as a downfield receiver could augment the team's two-tight end attack but Ragone did not yet appear to regain his exceptional speed (in admittedly limited viewing) this Spring.
Three months of additional strength and rehab could, of course, do wonders for Ragone who will be just under 12 months removed from injury when fall camp begins.
The team's three remaining tight ends include two freshmen: Tyler Eifert and Jake Golic and one walk-on, Bobby Burger.
Though depth is key at the position, Irish fans can look forward to a breakout year from starter Kyle Rudolph, who remains one of the nation's best tight end prospects entering his sophomore season.