When Ronnie Stanley announced in mid-January that he would be eschewing early entry into the NFL draft to return to Notre Dame, it looked as if the Irish would return all five starting offensive linemen for the 2015 season. That, though, won’t be the case.
In a surprising turn of events, Matt Hegarty confirmed to ESPN.com in a statement that he has decided to transfer from the Irish and play his final season of college football elsewhere. Hegarty attributed his decision to transfer to the coaching staff recently informing him that they wanted him 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,” Hegarty wrote in a portion of his statement.
“Unfortunately, I have already had to miss a precious amount of football battling back from my stroke [in 2012], 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. Notre Dame has amassed formidable depth on the O-line and have many very talented players to fill all positions.”
Last season, Hegarty started 11 games at both center and guard. The year before, and because of an injury to Nick Martin, he made his first career start in the regular-season finale against Stanford, then followed that up with another start in the Pinstripe Bowl.
A four-star member of the Irish’s 2011 recruiting class, Hegarty was rated as the No. 6 offensive tackle in the country and the No. 1 player at any position in the state of New Mexico. Hegarty signed with ND over offers from, among others, Arizona, Arizona State, Auburn, Florida State, LSU, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oregon, Stanford, Texas, UCLA and USC.
As he will graduate from Notre Dame in May, Hegarty would be eligible to play immediately in 2015 at another FBS school if he enters into a grad program not offered at his previous school.