Notre Dame center Matt Hegarty is taking advantage of the graduate transfer exemption and looking to play his final year of college football elsewhere. He played 11 games for the Irish last season, including the loss to Florida State in Tallahassee. This was the statement he released to ESPN earlier in the year:
"I am extremely grateful for the opportunity that the Notre Dame Football program has afforded me," Hegarty told ESPN. "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. I have worked hard and have always done everything that was asked of me. Recently my coaches informed me that they wanted me to change positions. 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.
"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. 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."
Hegarty has had an interesting career, having to battle back from a stroke, as CBS profiled.
Hegarty, a native of New Mexico, had a "mini-stroke" in November 2012, and needed heart surgery. He would return to the Irish in 2013 for spring practice, and played in 12 games that season.
While losing a starter on your offensive line is seldom a good thing, as Hegarty himself made clear, Notre Dame coaches wanted him to change positions and odds are he wasn't going to be starting in 2015 if he returned. And even without Hegarty the Irish will still return four of their five starting offensive linemen from last season, and there's a good chance that Nick Martin will slide back over to center after moving to left guard last season.
With Florida State sitting at only 80 scholarships, and taking on Hegarty not impacting any recruiting numbers due to his being available for only one season, there seems like little downside to pursuing him. And indeed Tom Loy of Irish 247 is reporting that Hegarty will visit the Seminoles this weekend.
Not only is there little downside, but there is potential upside as well if he chooses Florida State. Hegarty is not a star player or a likely NFL-bound prospect, but FSU's center competition between RSo. Ryan Hoefeld, RFr. Alec Eberle and RFr. Corey Martinez is wide open, and none of those players project to be great in what is looking like a rebuilding year for an FSU program that has seen 30 or so players leave over the last three seasons to the draft. There's a reasonable chance Hegarty could start for Florida State, and at the very worst, he'd make the competition that much more fierce.