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Camp Kelly: What We Learned (From 2 Minutes of Footage)

Okay, so, maybe “learned” is too strong a term here.

Brian Kelly IS Camp Kelly. Okay, not really. It just sounds intense when you say it like that.
Brian Kelly IS Camp Kelly. Okay, not really. It just sounds intense when you say it like that.

Fighting Irish Media (bless them) provides us, day in and day out, rain, snow, or perma-cloud, with spectacular footage not only of the Notre Dame football team, but of all the university's athletic ventures.

One of our favorite yearly offerings from FIM is the glimpse they give us into the winter wonderland of Camp Kelly, an early-morning, snowy calisthenics-fest that is a feast for the Midwest-football-loving senses. There's pouring snow, icy breath, black, pre-dawn skies signaling the gritty isolation of the event from ordinary student life; tire-flipping, rope wagging, cone-dodging, whistle-blowing, and tug-of-warring; and a heaping helping of slow-motion, lens flares, racking focus, and dramatically-lit grid iron leaders.

This is genuine, make-you-want-to-run-through-a-wall stuff.

We really just wanted to share this with you to remind you that, despite the snowy South Bend-scape, spring football is happily upon us just a week from now. It's not real football (just yet), but it'll hold us over for the next (gulp) five months.

There are some take-aways from this year's Camp Kelly footage, though—glimpses into the inner workings of the Irish football program that must be parsed. Here are a few insights to be gleaned from those two cinematic minutes.


camp 1


Opening shot: Snow. It's SNOWING. It's winter in South Bend and it's snowing, which makes it both awesome (SUCH FIERCE AND GRITTY FOOTBALL) and horrible (GUHH RECRUITS DON'T WANT SNOW ARRRGH).

camp 2


The first of several artful lens flares. The message board rumors are confirmed: J.J Abrams has joined the FIM staff. HUGE recruiting coup.

camp 3


Our second shot (in the opening 11 seconds) of wide receiver and now student government president Corey Robinson. His gaze just screams "I HOLD EXECUTIVE OFFICE. DON'T STEP TO ME, FLUFFY SNOW AND TRACTOR TIRES—I'LL VETO YOUR A**."

camp 4


And our first shot of Coach Kelly, whistle in the corner of his mouth—absolutely the picture of the steely, taciturn, cinematic coach.

[cue Explosions in the Sky]

Is that another lens flare?

camp 6


Now we're getting into the heart of it. Looks like there have been some rule changes in the off-season: (1) The prolate spheroid will now be pretty much just sphere-y; and (2) there will be 6 balls on the field at once during every play. This means you need lots more QBs. LOTS.

camp 7


This shot gives us some insight into the new tackling method Brian VanGorder's defense is focusing on this off-season: tackling by the hair. Always by the hair. Ain't no rules against it, and it gives you something to get a handful of as the player runs by. As spring practice progresses, the hair-imitating ropes you see here will be replaced by thinner and shorter versions until the players are able to practice the hair tackle at full speed (wigs have been ordered for all offensive players not follicly-blessed).

camp 8


WARDROBE! WOULD SOMEBODY PLEASE GET MAX REDFIELD SOME SLEEVES?! He's making it look like this whole "cold and snowing" thing is being staged.

camp 10


Is "cold and snowing" being staged? Because that sure does look like liquid water, and water freezes at.... Wait a minute...

camp 11



camp 12


Okay. Maybe Max Redfield's actually just a little crazy.

camp 13


Behold! THIS is another new defensive technique VanGorder's adopted this off-season—this one specifically to combat Navy. Defenders rushing the QB on all fours cannot be cut blocked. We're coming for you, Niumatalolo. ON ALL FOURS.

camp 14


That cone is dirty. Why is that cone so dirty? Can we not afford some cone polish? Or a cone cleaning person? A new cone, maybe?

camp 15, 2


Ahh, tug-of-war. Everybody loves a good, all-in, high-stakes bout of tug-of-war. Everybody except, well, that guy. Maybe that guy knows something. What's your deal, guy?

camp 17


You know how when you see photos of presidents before and after their eight years in office, it looks like they actually aged 20 years? Camp Kelly will do the same to you BEFORE THE SUN RISES. Kizer's going gray, folks.

camp 18, 2


And this is what Camp Kelly is all about: the agony and the ecstasy misery of pre-dawn exertion in the raw, biting elements. Look at those faces, all telling the same story. All except that guy. Why's that guy smiling? There's no smiling at Camp Kelly, sir.

There IS smiling for us, though. Because football is coming.