It’s that time of year again, ladies and gentleman. Notre Dame Fighting Irish football fans are going through an annual routine of being uncontrollably ecstatic but also incessantly anxiety-ridden about the approaching season. This causes us to nitpick every little detail practice reports and brief Brian Kelly post-practice pressers. The byproduct of such a habit, though, can lead to a better interpretation of the stock of the team as a whole, from position groups to players. What to do with this newfound understanding? Why, we make a Stock Report of course! Without further delay, let’s jump into it.
DE Andrew Trumbetti
I will be the first to admit that I haven’t been Trumbetti’s biggest supporter over the past couple years. I always felt he had the potential to be a good player, but he was far too much of a liability in the run game for me to be comfortable with. This fall, though, there’s been a significant amount of praise given to Trumbetti. It’s very possible that Kelly and Co. are simply trying to boost his confidence, but there seems to be a sense of cautious excitement around the senior defensive end from those who have seen him in practice.
Kelly said that they had Trumbetti at a place “like he was in high school,” and talked about how he was an exceptional player in high school. With that kind of praise, and a universally acclaimed defensive coordinator in Mike Elko, hopes are high for the defensive lineman. This could be the year he puts it all together.
DB Shaun Crawford
Flipping the script from the previously mentioned player, I have always championed the playmaking ability that Shaun Crawford brings to a secondary that has often lacked it under Kelly. For a kid that has suffered consecutive season-ending injuries, Crawford never seems to let it affect him. For the third year in a row the Ohio native is making waves in practice as a standout player in coverage; he is usually tabbed as the Irish’s best cover man.
Crawford has surged back from yet another potentially career-damaging and assuredly demoralizing injury. He has yet again shown the resolve to come back from the injury and perform as one of the best defensive players that this Notre Dame football team. Of course, his impact hinges on his ability to stay on the field. However when healthy, Crawford has given no reason for doubt.
WR Kevin Stepherson
Kevin Stepherson is without question one of the Irish’s more talented wideouts. He showed that last year with a superb freshman season, logging the following receiving totals of 25 receptions for 462 yards to go along with 5 touchdowns. His ability has not been in doubt, nor should it be. What should be in doubt for the sophomore receiver is his head. He was one of the five players arrested prior to last season, and it seems that for whatever reason he has not been able to find his way out of Brian Kelly’s doghouse ever since.
During his post practice presser on August 5th, Kelly made a comment about ceasing the rewarding of talent. He instead wants to reward those kids who excel in showing his “traits of excellence.” Although when he was asked specifically about Stepherson he evaded, it’s safe to assume that Kevin Stepherson has not shown Kelly enough of those traits. Until his reps begin to match his ability, it’s reasonable to think the sophomore is not in Brian Kelly’s favor. And until that changes, his stock will remain this way.
DB Donte Vaughn
Donte Vaughn is - physically speaking - the Irish’s most imposing corner. He’s listed at 6’3 206 lbs. That type of size and length, when used properly, can make an immense difference in the secondary. With the size of many receivers today, having a defensive back that size can help neutralize a significant size difference and provide a massive amount of relief to the rest of the secondary. According to Brian Kelly and Fighting Irish pundits, he is Vaughn is beginning to learn how to use his size to his advantage.
The sophomore corner is by no means blowing it out of the water. The mistakes are there still, but that is to be expected at this stage. The exciting part is the potential for growth, which may be greater with Vaughn than any other defensive back. Where Vaughn is now is a step in the right direction as compared to last year, and that’s all we can truly hope for.
TE Alizé Mack
Before you all get out your pitchforks and your torches, let me explain myself here. Alizé Mack is a supremely gifted athlete, that much is irrefutable. With Chip Long on board, I think it’s safe to say that all Irish fans expect a huge season from the junior tight end. Following the first week of practice, it seems that we might need to temper our expectations.
Reports out of camp are that no tight end has been truly outstanding. Many have anticipated Mack to show out this season, but so far he hasn’t quite reached some admittedly very high expectations. With that said, his stock falling occurs more as a result of astronomical hopes prior to fall camp as opposed to poor play on his end.
QB Brandon Wimbush
Wimbush is absurd. Let’s get that out of the way. The arm talent in combination with the ability as a runner is ridiculously impressive. Now that the idolization of Notre Dame’s incumbent quarterback is over, let’s get into this. Wimbush did struggle early on during the most recent open practice. That is true. It was an installation phase, with a plethora of new plays and reads being thrown at Wimbush at once, so the early struggles are to be expected.
This is his first year as a starter at the most cerebral position on the football field. He has had his ups and downs during fall camp. This is what we should all have expected and continue to expect as he develops and learns. His potential is there. The talent and natural ability is something the Irish haven’t had at quarterback in quite some time. But this is his first year. So for now, expectations remain the same.