The biggest and worst news of the week for Notre Dame came when head coach Brian Kelly announced that Danny Spond would no longer be playing football. For the second consecutive year Spond had suffered from debilitating migraine headaches. Spond was able to bounce back from the migraines, officially diagnosed as "hemiplegic migraines", last year, but this year he was not so lucky.
"My football playing career is over after suffering another paralyzing migraine early in fall camp," Spond said Tuesday in a statement released by Notre Dame media relations.
"The exact cause of these migraines remains undetermined," he continued. "And in order to assure my overall well-being, I'm forced to walk away from the game with an extremely heavy heart."
Before he issued the release, Spond told his teammates the news of his untimely retirement after Saturday's practice. Senior classmate Austin Collinsworth was among them.
"Danny Spond is a really good friend of mine," Collinsworth said. "That's obviously a really sad thing for all of us to have to hear that he's not going to be playing football anymore. I'm glad that he decided that he's going to be around. Really, I feel bad for him and I love him. I just hope to see more of him."
Collinsworth was far from the only Fighting Irish player to have Spond in his heart this week.
"Danny Spond is like a brother to me," Shembo said. "When he pretty much told us, me emotionally - I felt it. It was tough. I'm still going to be here for him. He's very intelligent, very smart (and) he lives his life in the right way, so I know God has a plan for him."
"I know it's a very tough decision," Shembo continued. "Just for your career to end early, but at the same time it made a bid difference on us too - just to see him (go through it). It felt like I felt what he felt even though it didn't happen to me. It hurt me just as much as it hurt him."
Spond battled the migraines during training camp last fall, but it took several weeks to find out exactly what was ailing him. He missed Notre Dame's first two games of the 2012 season, but came back to play in his team's final 11 games and totaled 38 tackles. Ben Councell was Spond's backup last year.
"Having what happened to Danny was a very serious matter," Councell said this week. "I'm not even sharing all the specifics, but we back his decision one hundred percent. That's what's right for Danny and (is) going to help him in the long run."
"We all love Danny and feel very bad for what happened to him," said sophomore Romeo Okwara. "He made the best decision for himself."
"Danny's a great leader," Okwara continued. "He's a great guy. I think he's going to be a great asset to our defense this year."
Spond was seen walking with a cane in his left hand for support at last Saturday's open practice. Despite his condition, he plans to stay at Notre Dame to finish his degree in political science. He will also stay with the team throughout what would have been his senior season to help mentor players like Councell and freshman Jaylon Smith, who will now both see more playing time at Spond's old position.
The mentoring role is fitting for a player so many of his Irish teammates look up to.
"He's pretty much to us like the 'pops'," Shembo said of his teammate. "If you ever need a good answer (or) if someone needs to end an argument - go ahead and ask Spond. He's that guy. He's like a big brother to us."
Spond is a native of Littleton, CO and a graduate of Columbine High School. He wore No. 4 in high school, but took the No. 13 upon arriving at Notre Dame to honor the 13 people (12 students and one teacher) who died in the 1999 shooting at the high school.
"You may no longer hear my name on the field," Spond continued in his Tuesday statement. "But I promise you, this is not the last you will hear of Danny Spond. With God, my family, and Notre Dame, I will persevere to do great things."
He already has.