Notre Dame quarterback Dayne Crist hasn't had much luck on the injury front in his relatively brief Irish career.
Crist tore his ACL during the 2009 season and was limited in his first spring practice under Brian Kelly, then won the Irish's 2010 starting job anyway. But then Crist's season was ended by a torn patellar tendon against Tulsa Oct. 30. With Tommy Rees leading the Irish to a surprising four-game winning streak to end the season and Crist presumably limited again this spring, Rees was a narrow favorite to maintain his lead for the starting nod when the Irish began spring camp this week .
But that might not be the most accurate portrayal of the situation, not if Crist is being honest about how well that injured knee is responding:
"I'm cleared for everything right now," Crist said Friday, following a morning practice. "I'm 100 percent cleared for everything I'm doing" ...If there's truly "zero issues" with Crist's knee, that's terrific news for Crist and less-than-stellar news for Rees; despite Rees's heroics last fall, a healthy Crist -- having already won the job once and still boasting the raw talent and size that made him a five-star recruit out of high school -- would likely be tipped by many to reclaim the starter's position.
[N]ot only is Crist back, he also is hardly limited at all. Offensive coordinator Charley Molnar suggested to reporters earlier this week that Crist actually looks healthier this year than he did a year ago, when he was returning from a torn right ACL.
"From a physical standpoint, absolutely," Crist said, when asked to assess Molnar's assessment. "I feel I'm moving very well, I'm real happy with the knee, I have zero issues. Right now it's about getting the rest of the leg strong again and that just comes with the weight room. That just comes in time."
But the bottom line is that it's unambiguously good news for the Irish as a whole, who now have a legitimate quarterback competition in place to help both players get better throughout the spring, two quarterbacking options who have been able to fully participate in spring camp, and (of course) the likely higher-ceilinged of the two back on the field.
Now, though, comes the next question: can the brittle Crist stay healthy?