Oh, Danny boy. The pipes, the pipes are calling on your playing days.
A rough day just got a bit rougher for Notre Dame. Hours after learning that they had lost out on former RB recruit Elijah Hood, the news broke that senior linebacker Danny Spond had to retire from football due to migraines. More specifically, hemiplegic migraines. This type of migraine can be associated with weakness on one side of the body, siezures, and ataxia (lack of voluntary coordination of muscle movements). It should be obvious how this type of migraine could seriously impede one’s abilities to play football (or any sport), and could in fact be extremely dangerous should an episode occur on the field.
It’s sad for Spond, who last year with the Irish helped the defense to a #7 overall ranking and a berth in the BCS National Championship against eventual victor Alabama. Spond was a key contributor to that defense, but fortunately not an elite or irreplaceable presence. His spot on the Irish depth chart has already been filled by freshman linebacker Jaylon Smith, the #1 overall LB prospect from the 2013 recruiting class.
It’s going to accelerate the adjustment period for Smith, who likely would’ve come off the bench or even redshirted this first year. But circumstances dictate necessities, and it is not unlike the challenges Jr. cornerback KeiVarae Russell faced after the injuries to Lo Wood forced him into the lineup. Smith will have advantages to his favor, though. He’ll playing in quite possibly the most formidable defensive front in all of college football (top-three, at least), with Louis Nix, Sheldon Day, Stephon Tuitt, and Prince Shembo. As long as Smith doesn’t make too many mistakes, he should be just fine as a freshman starter – assuming he’s still listed there on the depth chart when the first game of the season rolls around.
All that aside though, its refreshing in its own way to see a young man like Spond realize his health is paramount and not worth the risks continuing to play football would entail. But I’m also sure that it took a fair amount of prodding and a mountain of medical evidence from his doctors before making that decision. Here’s to your health, Danny boy, and success in whatever endeavors your life takes you to.
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