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July 24, 2009

Montana's son leaves Notre Dame ... for now

Nate Montana didn't arrive at his decision to transfer from Notre Dame lightly.

But heading out to Pasadena (Calif.) City College for the fall semester is something the sophomore quarterback feels like he needs to do if he wants to eventually compete for the starting quarterback job at Notre Dame.

Montana, son of former Irish great Joe Montana, intends to re-enroll at Notre Dame for the spring semester following his season at Pasadena.

"It's just to get some experience under center," Montana said. "I feel like that's one of the biggest gaps between and the other quarterbacks there. It's the level of experience that they have. So I was looking to close that gap by making this decision then hopefully come back a better player and compete and hopefully win a spot then. I should be able to compete for the job on a different level."

Montana termed his decision to leave Notre Dame as "purely athletic" and reiterated that it doesn't reflect any personal problems, academic issues or rifts with the football program or University.

The idea of leaving the program, however, came up pretty quickly and was made easier by knowing the depth chart behind starting quarterback Jimmy Clausen is solidifying.

Clausen's backup will be former five-star prospect sophomore Dayne Crist and Montana indicated fifth-year senior Evan Sharpley will slide into a third-string role.

"It just kind of came up to me in a last-minute thing that it would be a good opportunity with Evan coming back that there would be support there in case they needed it," Montana said. "And that it would benefit me as well as the team later on if I could do that at this time. It just seemed like a good opportunity to better myself then the team later on down the road as well."

Montana said Irish head coach Charlie Weis preferred to have the 6-foot-4, 200-pound quarterback stay in South Bend and continue to learn the system. But Montana explained to his coach that there's nothing like game experience and this was his best option to gain some.

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