SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) - Notre Dame won't have veteran safety Jamoris Slaughter back as the Fighting Irish try to build on their best season in 19 years.
The university said Thursday it had received word from the NCAA that Slaughter's appeal for a sixth year of eligibility had been denied after he tore his left Achilles tendon in the third game of the season. The Irish had hoped Slaughter would provide a veteran presence in the secondary. Coach Brian Kelly issued a statement on Thursday wishing Slaughter well.
``Jamoris is a first-class young man and most importantly leaves Notre Dame with his degree. We wish him all the best as he now pursues his dream of playing in the NFL,'' he said.
Slaughter sent a tweet out Wednesday indicating he had received the news: ``It's been great ND! Hey you know what they say when one door closes another one opens! (hash)NFLDREAMING''
Slaughter, who did not play as a freshman, was injured in a 20-3 victory over Michigan State. With the loss of Slaughter and starting cornerback Lo Wood in the preseason with his own Achilles tendon injury, the Irish were thought to be vulnerable in the secondary, starting three players who were recruited to play on offense. Slaughter's injury forced the Irish to use sophomore Matthias Farley, a converted wide receiver, at safety.
Farley finished eighth on the team with 49 tackles and an interception and the secondary played well enough to help the Irish to a 12-0 finish in the regular season and a spot in the BCS title game, which Alabama won 42-14.
The Irish should be deeper in the secondary next season, even though they lose senior safety Zeke Motta. Wood is expected back at corner and the Irish return safety Nicky Baratti, who had eight tackles as a freshman. They also signed four defensive backs in the incoming freshman class, including five-star safety Max Redfield of Mission Viejo, Calif.
Slaughter, who is from Stone Mountain, Ga., started 19 games in four seasons and played in 39, finished his career with 98 tackles, two interceptions and two sacks. Slaughter issued a statement saying he knew a sixth year ``was far from a guarantee.''
``It is sad to know that my time at Notre Dame as a football player is complete, but it doesn't lessen my love for this university and its football program,'' he said. ``This decision simply begins the next chapter of my life and I'll be forever grateful for my coaches, teammates and all the Irish fans that supported me throughout my career.''
Slaughter has been invited to the NFL Combine later this month in Indianapolis.