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Notre Dame

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Career of ex-Saint cut short by injury

Irish lineman battles lingering back issue

Springmann

Tony Springmann’s playing days at Notre Dame are over.

The former Bishop Dwenger star has been diagnosed with a serious back injury and will not be able to continue his football career, Irish coach Brian Kelly announced Friday during his pre-camp news conference.

Kelly said Springmann recovered from a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee that caused him to miss all of last season as well as an infection that kept him out of spring practice.

Then Springmann, a senior defensive lineman, experienced a setback in his attempt to manage what Kelly described as a lingering back issue.

The recommendation was that Springmann, who is 6-foot-6 and 296 pounds, quit playing.

“Tony has done a great job of mentoring a lot of our younger players in the program,” Kelly said. “He’s shown great leadership and great resolve in coming back from his knee injury.”

There is still a role for Springmann to play, Kelly said, and he is welcome at practices, games and film sessions.

“He’ll still stay involved and connected with our program and still be part of our season as we go down to the Culver Academies,” Kelly said.

Springmann was supposed to be a key piece of their puzzle this season. He figured to be a top backup with the versatility to play both nose tackle and end.

While Springmann was not used in 2011 as a freshman, he saw regular snaps in 2012. Appearing in all 13 games, he compiled 11 tackles, a sack and a forced fumble.

At Bishop Dwenger, Springmann was part of a record 36-game SAC winning streak. His senior team went 13-1 and gave the school its fifth straight league title.

Springmann was named a first-team All-Northeast Indiana offensive tackle.

Kelly said there is additional depth behind starting nose tackle Jarron Jones, particularly with freshmen Daniel Cage and Pete Mokwuah.

“Both of them physically are able to compete right away,” Kelly said. “We have got some size. We’ll have to see what their football ability brings.”

Kelly laid the groundwork for high expectations, fielding questions from the media three days before his team reports to Culver Academy to kick off training camp.

This is Notre Dame, after all, and Kelly, beginning his fifth camp as coach, doesn’t know any other way.

“The program has such a great history and tradition,” he said. “Expectations are high every year. We recognize that.”

As college football opens a new era with a four-team playoff, Kelly is aiming high.

“That’s how we’ll mark our program every year, to compete for a playoff position,” he said. “We have got to have a serious shot at getting one of those four.”

cgoff@jg.net

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