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Notre Dame Football Spring Practice Report: March 18th

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Irish football is back.

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

The first practice of spring is in the books for Notre Dame football. 14 more to go until we move into the cold, dark off-season between spring and fall camp.

Check out some of the practice reports from those who were present in the beginning this morning.

QUARTERBACK

No major shocker as Everett Golson opened up working with the first team. We'll see if this changes at all when the media next gets a look at the Irish offense.

If Golson continues to start practices as the first quarterback--even if he splits time with Zaire later in the workout--I think we'll be seeing a clear plan for Everett to completely win the starting job back. It was interesting that Kelly mentioned in his presser yesterday that he hasn't talked to Golson about splitting time and he wants #5 to take the job and win it outright.

Barring a really bad spring, I think Golson is still on schedule to start against Texas.

RUNNING BACK

Not much was going on at running back this morning. Folston remains the top dog with Bryant working in some reps and C.J. Prosise now added to the mix on occasion, I think this will be a very boring spring for this position despite the talent on hand.

It should be noted that Prosise worked with the running backs during positional drills.

WIDE RECEIVER

The big news at this position over the last 24 hours has been the effort to get Prosise more touches and moving him into the backfield for some snaps, as noted above. Interestingly, it was Amir Carlisle who worked with the first team in the slot during the media viewing period. Carlisle was joined by Chris Brown and Will Fuller on the outside.

Someone I'm keeping a eye on this spring will be Justin Brent. As an early enrollee last year he's now participating in his second spring and it seems clear that Brian Kelly is expecting more out of the in-state product. The coaching staff doesn't usually talk all that sternly in the spring but when the words 'passed up' are getting thrown around right now that's not a great sign for Brent. He'll need a big spring to fight for some playing time.

The staff looks to be pushing Corey Robinson this spring, and I bet this continues to be a theme during the off-season. The rising junior has shown a little bit of versatility in the short passing game but needs to develop into more than just a jump ball target.

TIGHT END

Durham Smythe opened up spring camp as the number one tight end, to the surprise of no one. During the media viewing period he was noticeably active in his flexibility and alignment.

Both Nic Weishar and Mike Heuerman need to come into focus this spring, particularly the latter athlete who still has not gained necessary tight end weight, is heading into his third year, and could see a true freshman pass him on the depth chart for the second straight season.

It was sophomore Tyler Luatua who worked with the second team on Wednesday morning.

OFFENSIVE LINE

The lineup on the first team offensive line was as predicted: Stanley (LT), Nelson (LG), Martin (C), Elmer (RG), and McGlinchey (RT). I think it's going to take something catastrophic, or injury, for this not to be the opening day starting lineup for the Irish.

The second team line consisted of Bivin (LT), Bars (LG), Mustipher (C), Montelus (RG), and Harrell (RT). For now this leaves Colin McGovern (rising redshirt sophomore) as the oldest member of the offensive line not on the two deep. I expect he'll eventually work his way up but it's something to watch this spring.

DEFENSIVE LINE

It's not out of the ordinary during this time of year to see a position group like defensive line being split up by age and that's exactly what happened on Wednesday morning. Okwara and Rochell ran with the first team at end, while Day and Matuska manned the insides at tackle.

The second unit featured Trumbetti and Blankenship at defensive end with Hayes and Cage at tackle.

The third unit consisted of Williams (DE), Dew-Treadway (DT), Tillery (DT), and Bonner (DE).

LINEBACKER

The big news at linebacker is the legit return of Jarrett Grace who finally is showing no ill effects from his leg/ankle injury suffered in October of 2013. For now Grace is running with the second team at Mike linebacker but it's wonderful news to see him healthy and with a legitimate shot to come back for a fifth year in 2015.

The starting linebackers on Wednesday were Onwualu at Sam, Morgan at Mike, and Smith at Will. Joining Grace on the second team were Martini at Sam and true freshman Te'von Coney at Will. The third team consisted of Hill at Sam, Deeb at Mike, and walk-on Austin Larkin at Will.

Hill playing at linebacker (and only weighing 230) is a curious sight.

SECONDARY

Nothing surprising at safety where Redfield and Shumate are the starters. Somewhat surprising though was to see Devin Butler running opposite Cole Luke with the first team right now.

There's an expectation that rising sophomore Nick Watkins is going to blossom into a star this year, and while we certainly don't want to read too much into one practice, it wouldn't be crazy if it took him a while to get going as he didn't play a ton last year.

Your second team in the secondary was Watkins with walk-on Connor Cavalaris at corner, plus Farley and Turner at safety. It sounds like the defense wasn't in any nickel formations during the viewing period if Farley stayed back at safety.

Nicky Baratti worked with the third team as he is being brought along slowly after his shoulder surgery.

NOTES

It looked like a matter of when not if as former Buffalo head coach and long-time Brian Kelly assistant Jeff Quinn has finally found a role in South Bend. Quinn was on the field at practice and Kelly told the media afterwards that he is the offensive analyst for the team this year.

One of the big off-season topics is definitely going to be how the VanGorder defense goes about handling the up-tempo offenses after North Carolina provided a template in 2014 that would be repeated until the end of the season.

I think it's kind of funny that Bob Elliott has kind of turned into the consigliere for the football program.

It took only a few minutes but multiple people misspelled Pryce Tracy's name after Brian Kelly brought him up during this morning's presser. I expect this to continue.

The fact that Kelly singled out the sophomore class seems really weird to me. I'm wondering if he meant the current sophomores but rising juniors?

We wait with bated breath, NBC.

VIDEOS, ETC.

Kelly with the Media