Following his hiring in December, Irish head coach Brian Kelly noted player development as the cornerstone of his program. Nine months later, Kelly will put that skillset to the test as cornerback E.J. Banks has reportedly left the team.
Banks entered camp as one of just five scholarship cornerbacks on the Irish roster (Darrin Walls, Gary Gray, Robert Blanton, Lo Wood). Wood's fellow January 2010 freshman Spencer Boyd transferred to South Florida over the summer.
Though unlikely to challenge for one of the top three cornerback spots, Banks lent depth to a secondary already depleted by the loss of another January enrollee, Chris Badger, who will return to the school and football program following a two-year religious mission in Ecuador. Badger's departure left defensive backs coach Chuck Martin with four scholarship safeties entering camp.
BlueandGold.com's Todd Burlage first broke the story of Banks' departure, later confirmed by Notre Dame's director of media relations, Brian Hardin.
In related news, 5th-year senior Barry Gallup will reportedly move from wide receiver to cornerback to lend depth to the position. Gallup has contributed as a running back, wide receiver, kick returner and member of the kick coverage squads over the last three seasons.
Gallup's expected transition gives the Irish nine scholarship athletes in the secondary. Just two (Walls and Gallup) will exhaust their eligibility at season's end.
Banks, an early enrollee in January 2009, struggled through injury in his first spring, later admitting to IrishEyes last August that the transition from option quarterback in high school to collegiate cornerback involved a difficult learning curve. DB coach Chuck Martin lauded Banks in the spring for his progress as a player with little defensive experience.
IrishEyes will attempt to confirm Gallup's position switch following today's morning practice.