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Football: Spring Fever

Andrew Owens | Thursday, March 31, 2011


With only three scholarship running backs on the team entering spring practice, the Irish knew they couldn’t afford any one of those players to go down with an injury. The team’s depth took a serious hit Wednesday when it was announced freshman running back Cameron Roberson would miss the remainder of spring practice.

Roberson, the No. 3 running back behind sophomore Cierre Wood and junior Jonas Gray, left practice Saturday and was unable to return. The team announced Wednesday he suffered a torn lateral collateral ligament and partially torn anterior cruciate ligament.

Roberson will undergo surgery, and his return date is currently unknown. The team has three walk-ons to take some of the load off Wood and Gray — senior Patrick Coughlin, Derry Herilhy and freshman Tyler Plantz.

“We’re at five with those bodies and it’s interesting,” running backs coach Tim Hinton said Wednesday. “It’s a lot of fun because three of the five really don’t know a lot, so we’re working the heck out of those guys.”

Plantz, whose father played for the Irish as an offensive guard from 1982-85, was added to the roster Monday after Notre Dame held open walk-on tryouts.

“[Plantz] is a good man and he’s going to go out there and help us in whatever we need to do,” Hinton said.

Despite the lack of depth, offensive line coach Ed Warriner has been encouraged with the development of the two healthy scholarship running backs.

“[Gray] is coming along really well,” he said. “We feel like if we just keep developing Jonas he can be a 230 lbs. power back and he’s got some speed with it too.”

Wood, who gained valuable experience after senior Armando Allen went down with an injury mid-season, will serve as the team’s primary back this fall.

“I think he understands what he needs to look at in there and what he needs to read,” Warriner said. The reads in the box are so much different than the reads out on the perimeter.”

Roberson was not the only casualty of spring practice. The team also announced that junior inside linebacker Anthony McDonald will miss the remainder of the spring session with a partially torn pectoral muscle. Although he will undergo surgery, he is expected to be ready at the start of training camp in August.