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You Can Go Home Again

Transfers are an inevitable part of college football. In the last 30 years, we have no recollection of a class recruited at Notre Dame that didn’t see at least one of its players transfer to another school.

Head coach Brian Kelly released Aaron Lynch from his Notre Dame grant--in-aid this week.

The two main reasons for transfers usually are 1) homesickness and 2) a better opportunity for playing time, and sometimes disciplinary or academic issues are also involved.

In the case of freshman defensive end Aaron Lynch, who will depart Notre Dame at the end of the spring semester, it was definitely the former. He is yearning to get back to his home state of Florida, and it appears that the University of South Florida in Tampa is the top candidate to land him.

“This was one of the toughest decisions I have had to make, but I want to go back home to Florida,” said Lynch in a statement released by Notre Dame on Friday. “I'm grateful to Coach [Brian] Kelly for understanding and allowing me to return home.”

What has taken many by surprise is that Lynch starred for the Irish in 2011, earning Freshman All-America honors while pacing the team in quarterback hurries (14) and sacks (5.5). When was the last time a player who had such a positive impact, especially in his first year, leave Notre Dame?

The main such comparison we can make is outside linebacker Arnold Ale in 1989. As a freshman for the 1988 national champs, Ale started four games at drop linebacker, including the victory over No. 1 Miami (31-30) and No. 2 USC (27-10), and he was credited with a key sack (along with Frank Stams) in the national title win over West Virginia in the Fiesta Bowl.

Yet that following spring, despite all the team and individual success, he transferred back to his home area of Los Angeles (UCLA) because he said he felt “alienated” at Notre Dame as a Samoan. He ended up playing two seasons in the NFL (1994 and 1996).

The 28-man Notre Dame recruiting class from 2006 had an inordinate amount of transfer for myriad reasons, including both quarterbacks, Demetrius Jones and Zach Frazer, who would be the starter for UConn when it upset the Irish in 2009. Others included running back Munir Prince (Missouri), tight ends Konrad Reuland (Stanford) and Will Yeatman (Maryland), offensive lineman Matt Carufel (Minnesota), wide receiver Richard Jackson (Central Florida) and safety Jashaad Gaines (Texas Southern).

In most of those cases, they all went back to their respective home states.

After losing eight alone from that 2006 haul to transfers, the Irish have lost only eight total from the last five recruiting classes (2007-11). In each case, they all went back to a hometown or home state school.

2007: Linebacker Aaron Nagel (Northwestern) moved to a blocking fullback position for the Wildcats.

2008: Tight end Joseph Fauria (UCLA) went back to California after disagreeing with an Office of Residence Life decision to suspend him. He was the Bruins’ second-leading receiver last year with 39 catches (12.3 yards per catch) and six touchdowns.

2009: Wide receiver Shaquelle Evans (UCLA), defensive back E.J. Banks (Pitt) and offensive lineman Alex Bullard (Tennessee) all returned home. In Bullard’s case, his father passed away and he wanted to be nearer to his family. Evans nabbed 19 passes last year at UCLA (two for scores) that averaged 16.3 yards.

2010: Cornerback Spencer Boyd (South Florida) and safety Derek Roback (Ohio U.).

2011: Aaron Lynch.

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