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Notre Dame Football Spring Practice Report: April 8th

Easter is over and it's time to start smacking the pads again.

Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

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The Fighting Irish football team returned to spring practice on Wednesday morning following the relaxations and pastel whims of Easter break. The media will not view this Friday's practice but there will be player interviews following the workout and a full media viewing of the entirety of Saturday's practice.

Now for today's news & notes...


For today's 30-minute media viewing it was Malik Zaire who started with the 1st-team offense as the spring-long quarterback competition continues.

This weekend's full media viewing practice--the second and final such session--will be the last good look at the quarterbacks before the Blue Gold Game wraps up spring ball. We'll see just how 'live' the quarterbacks will be this weekend (and during the spring game too) but it should give us a better feel for the position soon.

We may not be able to say with complete certainty, however, it sure seems like the dial on whether Golson will remain at Notre Dame for his graduate season is pushing closer to 'yes'. As many have expected, the quarterback competition is likely to extend to at least the first couple weeks of fall practice in August and with Golson remaining the 1A option at worst according to most accounts there's little reason for him to leave.


Tarean Folston worked with the starters to open practice but after the workout Kelly continued to praise C.J. Prosise who is accepting his evolving hybrid role and excelling at running back.

As I've stated before I'm very curious to see just how much running back Prosise plays during the fall, specifically lining up as a traditional tailback. It's still expected that he'll remain primarily in the slot and motion into the backfield early and often. You wouldn't think the third running back under Brian Kelly would get much work but surprisingly the third runner has averaged 72 carries over the past 3 seasons.


Corey Robinson made his way back to practice after a near two-week absence (including Easter break) due to a concussion. The starting unit this morning remained the same with Chris Brown and Will Fuller working the outside positions and Amir Carlisle placed in the slot. Robinson re-joined the second unit on the outside with Corey Holmes and Torii Hunter in the slot.

Those are some encouraging words by Kelly on Carlisle who may have moved himself from the 5th-year bubble to much more likely to return in 2015. Certainly if Carlisle has been running with the first team all spring--even if Prosise may eventually return as the real starter--he'd be someone the staff really wants to come back if the numbers allow such a move.

The lack of consistency from Brent has been apparent for quite some time. So much so that I tend to forget how much of a bigger role I'd thought he'd have at this point in his career. He's still young but let's hope the light goes on soon because there's a plethora of receiving options coming in this fall.


I guess you could say there was a spring positional battle at tight end and usually these things tend to carry over into the summer and fall practice. However, it appears Durham Smythe has got this position on lock down.

I'm still wondering how much playing time Luatua will get in 2015. A consistent H-back being deployed over the course of an entire season hasn't been something the Irish offense has worked with in the past. Most would like to see it used more often but then you're taking another playmaker off the field. Such a game of trade-offs!

The media made a point again to notice that Mike Heuerman was not mentioned by Brian Kelly when talking about the tight ends. Right now it would be kind of surprising--especially with the tight scholarship numbers--if Heuerman remains at Notre Dame past this semester. He's from Naples so a transfer to FIU, FAU, USF, or even UCF would make sense if he's seeking a chance to start over and earn some playing time closer to home.


The even day/odd day rotation at left guard allowed the media to view redshirt freshman Alex Bars starting at the position for the first time this spring. Nothing else up front changed as Stanley remains at left tackle, Nick Martin at center, Steve Elmer at right guard, and Mike McGlinchey at right tackle.

Bivin (LT), Nelson (LG), Mustipher (C), Montelus (RG), and Harrell (RT) rounded out the second team O-line.

The versatility of Colin McGovern is a welcome sight although he remains working with the third team at right guard while rotating occasionally on the second team. The third team is practicing without a right tackle for the spring as Sam Bush (LT, preferred walk-on), Jimmy Byrne (LG), and Tristen Hoge (C) are working alongside McGovern.


Sheldon Day being well rested this spring was one of the more curious moves this spring but today we discovered exactly why the rising senior has been taking things so slow.

The IT band is the Iliotibial band which runs from the lateral part of the knee up to the pelvis. Let's hope Day can get healthy and finish off strong for the spring and into the summer. He's so talented but hasn't been able to stay healthy for long stretches of time throughout his career.

You can cross one player off the pass rushing list for the rest of spring as redshirt freshman Jonathan Bonner will be out until the summer with a turf toe injury.

As Bonner exited the Irish welcomed back Andrew Trumbetti to practice following his concussion. Trumbetti took the strong-side spot on the edge with the second team with Blankenship (DE), Dew-Treadway (DT), and Cage (NT).

The starting defensive line unit was the same as the last media viewing: Okwara (WDE), Hayes (DT), Tillery (NT), and Rochell (SDE).

The issue with Ishaq seems pretty confusing. If the issue is Williams' 'intentions' then if it's a matter of effort in the classroom there has to be some hope that he'll return. Yet, if it's a question of NCAA eligibility that could be a whole other matter that wouldn't seem to be so easily rectified by a sit down with Kelly. In the past, Kelly has remarked he wasn't sure what Ishaq was up to (which isn't a good sign) but I guess it's possible he could be taking classes somewhere that might allow him to come back to South Bend this fall.

I kind of get the feeling that the whole graduate year requirements from Notre Dame are playing a part in this ordeal. If it is determined that Ishaq is intent on making it work, perhaps Kelly can go to work trying to get him through the application process.


During this morning's press conference Kelly said the staff was expecting a drop-off with Jarrett Grace but he's been playing consistently well and dealing with his recovery from injury.

The linebackers began practice in the same alignment as we've seen for most of spring. The first team consisted of Onwualu (Sam), Morgan (Mike), and Jaylon (Will). The second team featured Martini (Sam), Grace (Mike), and Coney (Will).

Once the media left it was noted by Kelly in his talk with the press that Jaylon Smith spend the practice over at the strong-side spot.

As I've mentioned in a past OFD Films post I hope Jaylon stays at Will for the majority of his snaps (continuity, BVG's liberal use of nickel/dime packages, utilizing his sideline-to-sideline speed, and crossing my fingers he grows into the next C.J. Mosley being among the chief reasons) but the growth of Nyles Morgan and VanGorder's attempts to slow down up-tempo offenses might make it tough for Jaylon to stay at Will linebacker.

To be sure. Jaylon is still likely to play both positions as he did last year. Now, it's just a matter of what the percentages will look like and how good Joe Schmidt (the likely Will replacement when Jaylon slides over) is going to look coming back from his injury.


We hadn't heard much out of Matthias Farley this spring but it's heartening to see him getting after it again from the nickel position. In conjunction with the linebacker talk above I'm fascinated to see how VanGorder makes adjustments this season and how that will affect the use of Farley at the nickel position.

All he needed was more time and practice and it looks like the highly touted Nick Watkins is starting to make his move up the depth chart. Most expect he'll move into the third corner position come the start of the season.

That would give the Irish a trio of Luke-Russell-Watkins with Butler providing some support, as well. In some ways that looks like a great top end of the depth chart but I do think we'll need to see some big steps taken from Watkins this fall, and quality playing time, to really feel great about the future at corner.


Like the rest of spring so far, there really hasn't been anything to talk about at safety. Sorry!