Notre Dame quarterback Riley Leonard will miss the majority of the team’s winter conditioning program following tight rope surgery on his ankle, according to multiple program sources. Leonard is expected to need six to eight weeks of recovery time following the procedure, which should push up against the start of spring practice. On3 first reported that Leonard had undergone the procedure.
If Leonard were to miss any of spring practice under new Irish offensive coordinator Mike Denbrock, it would give opportunities to sophomore quarterback Steve Angeli, who started the Irish’s 40-8 win in the Sun Bowl, as well as freshman Kenny Minchey and early enrollee CJ Carr.
Leonard transferred to Notre Dame after three years at Duke, two of which spent as the starting quarterback under former head coach Mike Elko. In Durham, Leonard established himself as one of the better running quarterbacks in the country, rushing for 13 touchdowns as a sophomore. He had 18 carries for 88 yards against the Irish last season but missed six games down the stretch following a severe ankle sprain suffered at the end of Notre Dame’s comeback win.
However, Leonard remains a developmental quarterback as a passer. He finished his junior season 95 of 165 for 1,102 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions, including one by Irish All-American safety Xavier Watts. In four starts against teams that finished the season in the Top 25, Leonard completed less than 50 percent of his passes and threw just one touchdown pass.
In theory, missing winter conditioning should not impact Leonard’s ability to pick up Notre Dame’s offense, which will be new for the other quarterbacks on the roster, too, following the departure of Gerad Parker to Troy. And whichever offense Denbrock does settle on installing, the coordinator arrives with a track record of leaning into dual-threat talents like Leonard after helping LSU’s Jayden Daniels win the Heisman Trophy.
Eventually, Leonard will get his shot to show he was worth Notre Dame’s investment in a second consecutive transfer quarterback. The on-field part of that assessment will have to wait until spring practice. Notre Dame’s spring game is scheduled for April 20.
(Photo: Jim Dedmon / USA Today)