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Marcus Freeman gives injury updates on key Notre Dame football players

IMG_7504by:Jack Soble05/31/24

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Entering summer workouts, several Notre Dame football players are recovering from long-term injuries. The latest is junior running back Gi’Bran Payne, who underwent ACL reconstruction surgery shortly after the Blue-Gold Game on April 20.

In a sit-down with local reporters on Friday, Irish head coach Marcus Freeman updated the statuses of those players, including junior cornerback Benjamin Morrison and senior tight end Mitchell Evans.

Gi’Bran Payne undergoes successful ACL surgery, not necessarily out for the season

Significantly, Freeman did not rule Payne out for the entire 2024 season. He does not know when the rotational running back could return to play, but coming back for the end of his junior season is still on the table.

“[Head football athletic trainer Rob Hunt] was very pleased with the surgery,” Freeman said. “It was just a clean ACL tear. No other structural damage. It’s an at least six-month recovery plus, but I’m not ready to say he’s out for the season.”

In Payne’s absence, graduate student Devyn Ford will move back to running back. He practiced with the safeties in spring practice and is listed on the official roster as a safety, but he’ll return to his natural position to give Notre Dame five scholarship running backs this season.

Freshman Irish running backs Kedren Young and Aneyas Williams will also have opportunities to play right away after Payne’s injury. A hamstring injury hampered Young throughout spring ball, but he should be good to go in fall camp.

“I’m confident in the freshmen,” Freeman said. “Aneyas had a really good spring spring, and you wish you got to see more of Kedren, but I just believe Kedren brings a skill set that some other guys in that room probably don’t have.

“He’s a big, powerful runner. We haven’t seen it in person. I’ve seen it in high school. You can see him physically, he looks like that, but I think he’ll bring that powerful element to that running back room.”

Benjamin Morrison to be ‘partial participant’ for summer workouts, start of fall camp

When Notre Dame announced Morrison underwent shoulder surgery this spring, the team also said it expected him to return for the 2024 season. Freeman said Friday that Morrison will be a ‘partial participant’ in summer workouts and at least part of fall camp in early August.

Freeman expects Morrison to be fully cleared at some point close to Notre Dame’s season opener at Texas A&M on Aug. 31.

“I don’t know when that date is, but it won’t be for the start of fall camp,” Freeman said.

Three injured Notre Dame players — including star tight end Mitchell Evans — will be ready for fall camp

Freeman expects Evans, graduate student tight end Kevin Bauman and sophomore defensive tackle Armel Mukam to return for fall camp (which begins July 31). Evans and Bauman are recovering from torn ACLs, while Mukam is recovering from a torn labrum.

None of the three will be 100 percent cleared for summer workouts, Freeman explained, but they’re expected back by the time Notre Dame begins ramping up for the season.

“Kevin is a little bit ahead of Mitch, just because the surgery was before his, but they should all be ready for fall camp,” Freeman said.

Gabriel Rubio will return to Notre Dame this summer

Rubio was expected to return for summer workouts after missing spring practice to attend to a personal matter. Freeman confirmed that Friday afternoon.

“Gabe Rubio will be back this summer, part of the team,” Freeman said. “Ready to roll.”

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