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Notre Dame Football

Davis injury means greater roles for Styles, Mayer; Hamilton status unclear

November 8, 2021

It's another player lost for the season for Notre Dame, and now Avery Davis eventually will have to decide if he wants to return for a sixth season with the Fighting Irish.

The team captain and widely held example of one of Notre Dame's most selfless players, Davis was injured last Saturday in the 34-6 win against Navy, a game in which Davis tore his anterior cruciate ligament.

“The MRI came back with a torn ACL, so unfortunately we've lost Avery (Davis) for the season,” Brian Kelly said Monday during his weekly press conference. “Very disappointed for him. He's having a great season. He'll have to make a decision for what he wants next. The COVID year (allows Davis an opportunity to utilize a sixth collegiate year). I think he was planning on going to the NFL. He'll have to make a decision. He'll be invited back if he chooses to do that.”

A Cedar Hill, Texas, native originally signed by Notre Dame as a quarterback who's also played running back and defensive back, Davis is second on the Irish with four touchdown receptions this season and fourth with 27 receptions.

The move means an even greater role for surging true freshman Lorenzo Styles Jr., and also affords some opportunities to further expand the role of sensational tight end Michael Mayer.

“Lorenzo (Styles) will move into the slot,” Kelly said. “For example, he got 16 snaps. Avery got 44. You'll see a flip there. You'll see Kevin Austin play some X, when he plays X, Deion (Colzie) will play some W.

“We'll just move the parts around a little bit. Kyren (Williams) as you saw on two-point conversion can line up in the slot.

“And we'll move Michael Mayer around a little bit. Remember what we did with Tyler Eifert back lined up to the boundary, which allows us to kick some of those receivers to the field. Jayden Thomas is up from the scout team to take some reps for us and take the load off some of the guys. Don't expect to get a big bounce out of him in the game situation but we're going to need him for the week in terms of getting up to snuff and if we have another injury, he's a guy that has to start playing.”

In a season that seems uncannily filled with injuries for the Irish, Davis joins the likes of linebackers Shayne Simon, Paul Moala, Marist Liufau and wideout Joe Wilkins lost for the season, as well as left tackle Blake Fisher and tight end Kevin Bauman, both of whom were injured in the Notre Dame opener.

Additionally Kurt Hinish and Braden Lenzy, veteran starters on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball, have been limited at times with injuries. Cane Berrong, the freshman tight end, also has been lost to injury, as has JoJo Johnson and Osita Ekwonu.

Bauman has only now returned in a very limited capacity while Kelly has indicated Fisher is ahead of schedule in his rehab but likely could only be back for the postseason.

Additionally, the status of Kyle Hamilton after the star safety injured his knee against Southern Cal last month has remained murky.

“Hamilton, we do not have all the information on Hamilton yet,” said Kelly, who initially believed Hamilton might not miss any time but has instead seen the junior from Atlanta need to receive multiple platelet-replacement-therapy procedures. “That's going to take most of the day. The MRI is complete.

“We have other doctors that will take a look at it. The family wants to get obviously completed information as does Kyle before any decisions are made.”

Kelly is pleased with Bauman's return and anticipates continuing to integrate him more into the Irish offense for the season's closing stretch of games at Virginia, the home finale Nov. 20 against Georgia Tech and at Stanford Nov. 27 to close the regular-season slate.

After further bringing back sophomore tailback Chris Tyree into the mix against Navy, Kelly also believes Tyree is full-go this week at Virginia.

“It's been management so far,” Kelly said, noting Tyree's foot/toe injury dated to Tyree's prep days. “We've gotten to the point now where we think it's been enough time. There was a moment in the game where they blitzed 15 off the edge and (Tyree) laid him on his back. That was probably the single moment where we said, 'OK, we're past this' and he probably said we're past this. And he started feeling really good about doing everything.”

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