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Notre Dame Football Spring Practice Report: March 25th

Week two begins of the always promising spring football practice.

Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

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Notre Dame was back on the practice field Wednesday morning and the media had a chance to view the beginning of the workout and talk with head coach Brian Kelly. Here's our recap of what's happening in South Bend...


Not a whole lot of juicy details are emerging on the quarterbacks this spring. Once again in the media viewing portion to begin practice it was Everett Golson who trotted out with the first team offense.

Granted this is mostly just inane coachspeak but the fact that fundamentals came third in that pecking order is worthy of a chuckle. This looks like it could bring us a few days of internet bickering about Kelly's philosophies on offense.


The big news at tailback was Tarean Folston NOT working with the first team in favor of Greg  Bryant and C.J. Prosise getting reps but that screams rest day for Notre Dame's returning leading rusher.

I really like feeding Prosise more reps at running back for a few reasons. One, he just flat out needs to touch the ball more from that position whether through motioning or shifting. He had 10 carries last year and should triple that amount in 2014. Two, this provides more depth in the spring where, let's face it, with only Bryant and Folston it was needed badly. Three, with Prosise spending more time with the running backs it's allowing the competition at slot (specifically in regards to Amir Carlisle) to breath a little bit more.


The starting unit at wideout remained the same as last week as Will Fuller and Chris Brown are working the outsides and Amir Carlisle in the slot. Rising junior Corey Robinson sat out practice with a non-serious injury.

The second unit consisted of Justin Brent and Corey Holmes on the outside with Torii Hunter in the slot. Speaking of Hunter, it was mentioned by Kelly that their doing a good job working with his baseball schedule, plus they're moving Hunter around a little bit.

That's a good sign for a receiver in Kelly's offense. If they are moving you around they want you on the field no matter what so Hunter should be feeling real good this spring.


Unlike last week it was Tyler Luatua working with the first team during the media viewing, however, Kelly mentioned after practice that Smythe was atop the group right now.

As mentioned in our last practice update things are not looking up for rising redshirt sophomore Mike Heuerman who appears stuck at the bottom of the tight end depth chart. With 5-star freshman Alize Jones coming this summer it's not going to be any easier for Heuerman. Unfortunately, if Heuerman wants to play football he's probably going to have to look elsewhere. He's about as likely of a post-spring transfer as anyone on the roster.


Nothing has changed with the lineups at offensive line. Your starters continue to be Ronnie Stanley (LT), Quenton Nelson (LG), Nick Martin (C), Steve Elmer (RG), and Mike McGlinchey (RT). The second unit is Hunter Bivin (LT), Alex Bars (LG), Sam Mustipher (C), John Montelus (RG), and Mark Harrell (RT).

The talk after practice mostly revolved around the battle of titans for the starting left guard spot between Nelson and Bars. This is fun stuff.

Although they are both young it's very clear that Nelson and Bars are The Future of the program up front and that future is going to be here very quickly. Even if Nelson ultimately wins the starting left guard spot--as it has been trending--it looks as though Bars might hold down that versatile and highly coveted 6th lineman spot and be the first player off the bench.


Earlier this week new defensive line coach Keith Gilmore was interviewed and talked a lot about the players he's working with now at Notre Dame. You can read a good recap of his thoughts HERE from Irish Illustrated and I'll mention some of them below.


Today's practice was a giant Jerry Tillery love fest. For all of those who believed that moving the freshman to defensive line (me included) was the wrong decision it's looking like we were way, way off.

First team reps during the spring isn't a huge deal but it is for an early enrollee at this point. Granted, the starter at his position isn't practicing and the other players are having some consistency issues (see below) but things are shaping up for Tillery to definitely get into the rotation in 2015.

Your starters for Wednesday's practice: Romeo Okwara (DE), Sheldon Day (DT), Jacob Matuska (DT), and Isaac Rochell (DE). The backups were: Jhonny Williams (DE), Jay Hayes (DT), Jerry Tillery (DT), and Grant Blankenship (DE).

Andrew Trumbetti missed practice with an injury. Gilmore said he's been playing like an upperclassman and praised his strength.

Gilmore mentioned that Okwara has been very consistent, while Day is the motivator and leader of the group. Isaac Rochell has been singled out as someone who has stepped up and so has Jay Hayes. Gilmore has also been impressed with Johnathan Bonner who is getting some work at strong-side defensive end. He's been surprised with Bonner's strength there.

Gilmore did use some caution when talking about Jhonny Williams, Pete Mokwuah, and Daniel Cage. The latter two tackles appear to still have some conditioning issues, while Williams is still figuring out how to be an all-around edge player and not just someone with a great first step and athleticism.


The heartening story of Jarrett Grace's return from injury hit a little snag as the rising 5th-year senior sat out practice with a concussion. However, for about the 15th time this spring Brian Kelly heaped praise upon the middle linebacker.

Nothing changed with the starters at linebacker. James Onwualu was working at SAM, Nyles Morgan at MIKE, and Jaylon Smith at WILL.


No position has been quieter than corner where Devin Butler continues to work with the first-team offense along side Cole Luke. Not surprisingly, earlier this week new DB coach Todd Lyght called Luke the team's best corner.

The development of Nick Watkins continues to be one of my personal focuses this spring. We haven't heard much from him thus far.


Warning: positive updates at safety! Could it be? Is it possible? Are Notre Dame's safeties actually starting to develop and reach their potential? It's spring so let's revel in the updates...

It was noted during the viewing period that Matthias Farley was one of the wounded on the stationary bike but like all the injuries it isn't believed to be serious.

Both Nicky Baratti and Drue Tranquill were seen running around looking healthy, or at least, not suffering any ill effects from their past injuries.


Rising senior walk-on Hunter Smith is listed as a long-snapper but after losing his job as the holder last year it looks like the team is moving in another direction and he won't win his job back.

The Irish haven't had the opportunity to practice outside yet which typically neuters the special teams' units. For now, it looks like Kelly is calling it an open competition for the returners. I'll take C.J. Prosise at kick returner and Will Fuller at punt returner.