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Notre Dame Football News: Fall camp might look a lot different this year

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And probably feel different too

josh lugg and Andrew Kristofic Notre Dame Football
Josh Lugg and Andrew Kristofic
Notre Dame Football

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish are almost done with the spring football practice season, but we are already looking towards fall camp to help provide the answers to the many questions we have about the 2021 version of this program. On Wednesday, Sports Illustrated’s Ross Dellenger reported that fall camp — for everyone — is going to look and feel a lot different.

After a joint study by the NCAA and the Department of Defense, the NCAA Oversight Committee is ready to present several changes to the NCAA to vote on in regards to the way fall camp is structured and administered.

Examples:

  • 9 padless practices during a 25 practice camp. That’s up from 2 padless practices.
  • 2 scrimmages allowed rather than 3 12 under the current model.
  • Complete abolishment of collision drills such as the Oklahoma drill.

Those aren’t subtle suggestions — those are MASSIVE changes to the way a football camp works. Of course, massive changes have already happened over the last 5 years when it comes to fall camp like doing away with 2 a day practices — which was always a staple of the sport.

All of this is to help reduce the risk of injury to student athletes — particularly when it comes to head injuries and concussions. It all makes perfect sense in the camp setting, but there are concerns about players being sent out to play in games without what has historically been considered all of the “tools” from camp like; how to take a hit, how to properly tackle without hurting yourself, and how to truly be physical in a physical sport.

The NCAA will vote on these measures in May, so there is still a chance that the suggestions are voted down, but given the current climate of player safety — I pretty much expect these things to pass.

The changes stem from a study published in February that was funded by the NCAA and Department of Defense. The study tracked head exposures in six Division I college football teams from 2015 to ‘19, finding that 72% of concussions occurred during practice and nearly 50% happened in preseason practice, despite it representing just one-fifth of the football season. Total head impacts in the preseason occurred at twice the rate of the regular season. More than 650 players from Virginia Tech, North Carolina, Wisconsin, UCLA, Air Force and Army were involved in the study.