Watt, Fox hope to return

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Chris Watt learned that he was coming to Notre Dame for a fifth year from reporters, who had learned that Watt was coming back from the man he plays beside.

At least that's how left tackle Zack Martin spun it two weeks ago, when he said that part of the reason for his coming back for a fifth year was to play alongside Watt, his left guard and good friend.

"I haven't been officially asked yet, but I think I heard that I think I'm coming back," Watt laughed Saturday.

Fifth-year invites were not announced publicly last year until the start of spring practice, though invites from the staff and the process of going before the Faculty Board of Athletics comes much earlier than that.

Still, Watt and linebacker Dan Fox are two players who would welcome the chance to play one more year in an Irish uniform.

"I would love to play here another year if they ask me, but of course they haven't said anything," Fox said.

Part-time starting linebacker Carlo Calabrese figures to be another player who would be invited to return next season. Tyler Eifert is expected to turn pro after this season, and Cierre Wood has yet to decide on his future.

Collinsworth update: Coach Brian Kelly revealed Saturday that Austin Collinsworth had back surgery this season but will be ready come spring. The junior safety has not played this season after undergoing shoulder surgery. "He had a discectomy, kind of like Eifert had. Very similar. I can’t give you the exact [diagnosis], whether it was right or left, but he needed that tended to. He got that taken care of. He feels great. So we think we’ve got him put back together. He’s chomping at the bit."

The other guys: Kelly said everyone on the roster had been incorporated into the first three weeks of bowl practice, and that this past weekend would account for the most physical sessions of the postseason. Jarrett Grace, Jarron Jones and Gunner Kiel are names the coach mentioned when asked who stood out. … Kelly said he had to be careful with the second-team offensive line, which is missing Ronnie Stanley, Tate Nichols and Matt Hegarty. Nick Martin has been used everywhere, Kelly said, with Mark Harrell taking a majority of reps at center and Conor Hanratty at guard.