SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Chris Watt, Dan Fox, Tommy Rees and Zack Martin have all lived and played together for the last three years. The Pinstripe Bowl will be the group's final go-around, and may be the last time they're all together at the same time for a while.
It's a typical bittersweet college sendoff story, with four longtime friends going their separate ways after graduation. But Watt won't be able to play in the group's final game, as he'll be held out with a PCL injury that's nagged him for a month and a half.
"It was weird even today (Sunday), walking up to the offensive line I usually say something to Zack and Watt on the left side, crack a joke or something," Rees said. "It's just weird not having Watt out there. It's probably even weirder for Zack, they've been playing next to each other for forever. But he'll be alright."
Watt and Martin have started at left guard and left tackle, respectively, in all but one of Notre Dame's games since the beginning of the 2011 season. But the pain and discomfort from the PCL tear Watt suffered in late October at Air Force -- the same one that kept him out on Nov. 2 against Navy -- became worse after he re-aggravated the injury against Stanford.
Watt won't require surgery, though coach Brian Kelly said Sunday he was immobilized. The hope is to get Watt, who Mel Kiper pegged as a mid-round pick, healthy for next year's NFL Draft preparations.
"Yeah, that was some bad news, obviously," Martin said. "It stinks I won't get to go out in the game with him, but gotta get him healthy. He's got a huge future ahead of him, (have to) get him healthy as soon as possible."
Even with the severity of Watt's injury and the disappointment of missing him for the Pinstripe Bowl, Rees seized the opportunity to throw a playful jab Watt's way.
"I still think he's kinda faking it," Rees laughed. "He's a warrior, man. He's a tough kid.
"We'll see if he puts the brace on the wrong leg or something."