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Ragone latest Notre Dame TE to disappoint

A knee injury in 2008 sidelined heralded Notre Dame tight end Mike Ragone for his sophomore season. The senior's arrest on a marijuana possession charge on May 8 is presumably the final scorch mark on a once-promising career.

"It was horrible, just because I was getting ready to play, you know?" Ragone said of the 2008 injury in a Chicago Tribune story last August. "Looking forward to the season, coming off a good spring my freshman year. Then coming in and hurting my knee, it felt like my whole body was drained. I had nothing in me anymore, when it happened. I felt like I was dead. Literally. I felt like I lost my life, basically."

Ragone, who was pulled over by state police for speeding on the Indiana Toll Road, now faces a reality where, though unlikely, he could lose his freedom. At the very least, he's expected to lose his spot behind junior star Kyle Rudolph on first-year coach Brian Kelly's roster.

And it's not up to Kelly to decide.

Despite admitting at the scene that two bags of marijuana found in a female passenger's purse belonged to him, Ragone's attorney Jeffrey Stesiak entered a not guilty plea on his behalf Monday in LaGrange (Ind.) County court.

No matter the legal ramification, Ragone's confession will almost surely draw a suspension by Notre Dame's Office of Residence Life -- the university's own justice system that's dropped its sledgehammer gavel on many student-athletes in recent years.

In January 2007, Residence Life suspended Notre Dame basketball guard Kyle McAlarney from school for the entire spring semester after he was pulled over by police and marijuana was found in his vehicle.

Ragone is the latest in a string of tight ends to find himself in thigh-pad-high trouble -- continuing attrition at a position that has its own storied history in the hallowed halls of Notre Dame history.

Other than John Carlson (2004-07) and Rudolph, the position has been a bust.

Then a sophomore on the rise, 6-7, 250-pound Joseph Fauria was suspended by Residence Life for the fall semester in 2009 for "undisclosed disciplinary reasons." He played in only three games as a freshman but was expected to contribute behind Rudolph. Instead of sitting out, he left for UCLA, where he'll be eligible to play this year.

Will Yeatman compounded Ragone's physical status in 2008 when he was arrested for underage consumption at a campus party early in the season. Yeatman was already on probation after being cited for driving under the influence of alcohol in January, when he was issued a spring semester suspension and could not participate in football or lacrosse.

Following his second arrest, Yeatman sat out the remainder of the 2008 football season, leaving Rudolph to bear the entire load as a freshman. Yeatman transferred to Maryland in December.

Others include Konrad Reuland, who transferred to Stanford in 2007, and Luke Schmidt, lost to a career-ending injury the following year.

Rudolph is on track for legendary status with two seasons of eligibility remaining, but the Cincinnati product wasn't available for the remaining three games last season after injuring his shoulder against Navy.

Playing behind Rudolph last season, Ragone caught six passes for 60 yards. His performance last month at the Blue-Gold spring game (six catches for 75 yards and a touchdown) was a promising indication that the Irish could rest easy with it's depth at tight end.

Now Kelly holds his breath as Ragone's fate rests at the feet of Residence Life, an astringent judiciary body at which former coach Charlie Weis hurled heavy criticism after his ouster.