SOUTH BEND — Taking the fifth is never as easy as it sounds at Notre Dame.
The school announced Thursday afternoon that six senior football players have applied to become fifth-year seniors for the 2011 season, a process that won’t have a complete resolution until sometime in March or April.
The six who can — and likely will — come back to suit up for the Irish for another season are kicker David Ruffer, cornerback Gary Gray, safety Harrison Smith and offensive tackle Taylor Dever — all starters — along with backup tight end Mike Ragone and utility offensive lineman Andrew Nuss.
Smith, in fact, has already been named a captain for the 2011 season along with senior-to-be receiver Michael Floyd.
Beyond that, it’s all about semantics and math.
ND second-year coach Brian Kelly said last week that all 10 seniors with a fifth-year option applied to come back. Thus, not making the cut were kicker Brandon Walker, defensive end Emeka Nwankwo, linebacker Steve Paskorz and offensive tackle Matt Romine. Only Romine, of those four, saw significant playing time in 2010.