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Matt Hegarty to not return for Notre Dame

| Thursday, March 5, 2015

Offensive lineman Matt Hegarty will not play for Notre Dame in 2015, he told ESPN on Wednesday.

“I am extremely grateful for the opportunity that the Notre Dame football program has afforded me,” Hegarty said in the statement. “I want to thank Notre Dame, my coaches, my teammates and friends at school for the four great years I had at Notre Dame. I also want to thank the Notre Dame Nation for all of their support over the years. My focus has been to pour myself into everything that I have done at ND.”

Hegarty, who was listed as a senior on the 2014 Irish roster, still has a year of eligibility left after redshirting his freshman year. The 6-foot-4, 295-pound lineman also missed the final four games of 2012 after suffering a stroke the week before a Nov. 10 game against Boston College. He had played in every game of the season up to that point.

“Unfortunately, I have already had to miss a precious amount of football battling back from my stroke, and I value every rep and opportunity going into my final year of college ball that much more,” Hegarty said.

He returned his junior season to play in 12 games, starting the final two matchups against Stanford and Rutgers in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl.

This year, Hegarty, who began the season as a reserve, took over as starting center between wins over Purdue on Sept. 13 and Syracuse on Sept. 27. He also started at guard against Purdue and saw action in the team’s first two games.

Irish head coach Brian Kelly said Feb. 4 fellow senior offensive lineman Conor Hanratty will not play for Notre Dame in 2015 as well because of multiple concussions sustained during his career.

The Irish return four of their five starters from the final game of last season — juniors Steve Elmer and Mike McGlinchey and seniors Nick Martin and Ronnie Stanley. They will bring in two more linemen from next year’s freshman class, including Army All-American Tristen Hoge, Rivals’ top-rated offensive lineman in the class of 2015.

“Recently my coaches informed me that they wanted me to change positions,” Hegarty said. “They also explained that with many younger players in the wings, they wanted to develop them more heavily in the rotation — a need that I understand and appreciate. …

“My goal is to contribute this season, continue to develop my skills and pursue my dream of playing in the NFL. Because of this goal, I have asked for a transfer to play at another school where I can contribute more on the field. Notre Dame has amassed formidable depth on the O-line and have many very talented players to fill all positions.”

The Irish return to the field to kick off spring practice March 18.

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