The Irish took to the LaBar practice field for the first time this season as the team returned from Shilo Park on Thursday night. Friday's practice was the fifth of fall camp for Notre Dame and the first in full pads. The media were on hand to watch the team do their thing. Here's a recap of what they saw.
#NotreDame HC Brian Kelly says "nothing significant" on Spond, Hanratty or Bennett Jackson missing or being limited at practice today.— Irish Illustrated (@NDatRivals) August 9, 2013
Hanratty has a neck sprain and should be back shortly. No word yet on what is ailing Spond or Jackson. Also, senior wide receiver Daniel Smith spent most of practice on the stationary bike while incoming freshman John Montelus did not dress and appears to be heading towards a redshirt.
There isn't a whole lot going on with the quarterbacks. Where's the usual controversy!?!?
Malik Zaire not getting a whole lot of meaningful reps in practice today during live scenarios. A lot of observing and learning.— Irish Sports Daily (@ISDUpdate) August 9, 2013
Not a real surprise for the true freshman. Like I said in a podcast from the summer...if after two weeks of fall camp Zaire isn't making a move up the depth chart it will be Operation Redshirt barring an injury to Tommy Rees. I really don't think Zaire steps on the field this season if the coaches can help it.
If it's possible for a quarterback to add arm strength and athleticism in the off-season, Tommy Rees added both.— Irish Illustrated (@NDatRivals) August 9, 2013
Okay, this has been universal praise from just about everybody that was at practice. I'm starting to worry. I nearly wet myself when Rees scrambled out of pressure in a recent practice video. Kelly mentioned after practice that Rees has improved at getting out of pressure.
George Atkinson started with the first team offense but McDaniel and true freshman Greg Bryant also saw plenty of action.
Running back Greg Bryant showed today that he's not just a great runner - the true freshman has a great set of hand too.— Irish Sports Daily (@ISDUpdate) August 9, 2013
According to some on the scene Greg Bryant saw a lot of reps with the first team and is looking real good. Fellow freshman Tarean Folston did not see much action although there were reports that he wasn't quite 100 percent.
Curiously, Will Mahone is seeing some action in the slot. That's quite weird but he's proven to have great hands and there is probably some depth needs there more so than at running back---even if he isn't a physical fit for the position.
Chris Brown wasn't quite 100 percent so the 2nd team receiving unit was all freshmen in Corey Robinson and James Onwualu with Will Fuller in the slot. This trio is really impressing especially Fuller who may be the biggest surprise of fall camp so far. Kelly reiterated again that Robinson will play this year.
C.J. Prosise was starting in the slot with T.J. Jones and DaVaris Daniels. Kelly called Daniels a top-notch receiver and also said that with DD and Jones they have the best balance at receiver since he's been at Notre Dame.
Amir Carlisle working with the running backs, but taking all of his reps at slot receiver.— Irish Sports Daily (@ISDUpdate) August 9, 2013
Not really sure what that means as I believe there's video of practice of Carlisle at running back during 11 on 11 scrimmaging but obviously Amir is that real hybrid player. Watch Kelly's comments down below it's obvious the staff loves Carlisle.
It's a good sign that Torii Hunter was out there doing some running as he recovers from his broken femur.
Not much to say about the tight ends beside Hercules being Hercules.
Troy Niklas - some of the softest hands you'll ever see in a 6-foot-7, 270-pound tight end. Makes it look easy.— Irish Sports Daily (@ISDUpdate) August 9, 2013
With Hanratty sitting out we finally saw Christian Lombard move inside giving the first unit the following lineup:
LT Z. Martin, LG Watt, C N. Martin, RG Lombard, RT Stanley
It wouldn't be shocking if the lineup stays this way even when Hanratty comes back but we'll see. With Montelus not dressed the second unit was as follows:
LT Elmer, LG Bivin, C Hegarty, RG Harrell, RT McGlinchey
I like the way things are shaping up with Bivin (for now) moving to guard. Kelly praised Martin and Watt calling the former the best tackle in the country.
We know who the starters will be here. Tuitt has looked kind of fat in the beginning of camp but looked pretty good in some of the linked videos down below. You'll see Nix manhandle a couple people, including tossing Hegarty to the ground like a ragdoll.
Kelly mentioned there will be a battle for the 4th defensive end position (behind Tuitt, Day, and Springmann) with players like Jarron Jones and freshman Isaac Rochell right in the mix. It sounds like Jones is slowly making the jump the coaches had hoped for and Rochell is getting rave reviews for his size and physical maturity for a first year player while getting some reps with the 2nd team on Friday.
There hasn't been much coverage of the Cat linebacker position where the depth continues to be Shembo, Ishaq, and Okwara.
With Spond missing practice that meant Ben Councell moved up to the first team at Dog linebacker and freshman Jaylon Smith was running with the backups. Smith, along with Bryant, Folston, Rochell, and Onwualu, is a freshman that physically looks ready to go 3 weeks before their first career game.
In the middle Dan Fox moved over to Mike linebacker replacing Manti Te'o and Carlo Calabrese started at Will linebacker. Kelly reiterated after practice that there will be a 3-man rotation in the middle calling it a "fluid situation." However, Grace worked with the backups alongside Kendall Moore.
Bennett Jackson didn't participate in contact drills so Lo Wood stepped in and ran with the first team opposite KeiVarae Russell. It definitely looks like there will be a solid 3-man rotation at corner because Wood got high marks today from a lot of people.
Other interesting news from Friday's practice was that freshman Max Redfield worked some with the corners. Is that the staff getting the 5-star safety recruit comfortable with playing near the line as the nickel corner? Also, freshman Cole Luke has really impressed and was seeing reps with the second team. There are a lot of bodies at corner so if Luke is bypassing several players already that is a testament to his skills.
The first team safeties were the same as during the spring with Farley at free safety and Shumate at strong safety. Shumate had the biggest hit of the day putting a huge lick on Daniels. The second team was made up of Collinsworth at free safety and Baratti at strong safety.
Brindza is still holding down the 1st team placekicking and punting duties. Here are your early punt return nominees:
Amir Carlisle, TJ Jones, Greg Bryant and Tarean Folston worked as possible #NotreDame punt return options.— Irish Illustrated (@NDatRivals) August 9, 2013
Players working at kick return were George Atkinson, Carlisle, Folston, Bryant, McDaniel, and Russell.
I love the playmakers getting work as the returners!
Irish are back at it for practice on Saturday.