For the few people left on the internet who don’t know what The Onion is, this article must come as a shock as game day approaches:
During Wednesday’s afternoon practice, 17-year-old Brian Novak, a 145-pound walk-on for the struggling Notre Dame football team, injured nine starters, including third-year quarterback Jimmy Clausen, junior wide receiver Golden Tate, and 295-pound defensive lineman Ian Williams.
Novak, who had virtually no organized football experience prior to joining the Division I team, has injured a total of 24 players since his arrival in South Bend, prompting many to question whether or not the Fighting Irish have another disappointing season in store.
“I’m not really that fast or strong or anything,” said Novak, adding that of his friends back home he’s “not even close” to being the best football player. “But during my first practice with the team I was playing linebacker–or it might have been defensive end–and I got past the big blocker guys no problem, then somehow broke [starting halfback] Armando Allen’s leg with a tackle. That’s the first tackle I’ve ever attempted in my life.”
“I’m not trying to hurt them or anything, but in general I would say everyone here is a lot slower and weaker than I thought they’d be,” Novak added. “I can only bench-press about 90 pounds, but all the players gather around to watch me lift.”
According to members of the coaching staff, the former high school yearbook editor is by far the team’s most athletic player, despite Novak’s inability to do more than two pull-ups or jog a mile without walking. During an intrasquad scrimmage last Sunday, he recorded eight interceptions, rushed for 225 yards, and ruptured the Achilles tendon of safety Sergio Brown with what appeared to be a fairly slow-moving, awkward juke move.
Leave it to The Onion to ruin the Irish’s season before it even gets starter. My favorite quote of the column:
“Until Brian, I never thought about how establishing the run could create opportunities for us downfield,” said Weis, who has led the Irish to 15 losses in their last two seasons. “Novak was telling me about something called a ‘fake handoff,’ which is like this fake run thing, but then you pass it. I would assume that’s illegal, but he’s proven himself to be an amazing football player, so I trust him.”
(H/T: Her Loyal Sons)
Notre Dame had seven players selected in the 2016 NFL Draft, trailing only Ohio State, Clemson and UCLA on the weekend tally. But after the draft finished, the Irish had five more players get their shot at playing on Sundays.
Chris Brown signed with the Dallas Cowboys. Romeo Okwara will begin his career with the New York Giants. Matthias Farley and Amir Carlisle signed contracts with the Arizona Cardinal. Elijah Shumate agreed to a contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
After missing two seasons, Ishaq Williams will be at Giants rookie camp next weekend as well, working as a tryout player. Expect Jarrett Grace to receive similar opportunities.
Count me among those that thought both Brown and Okwara would hear their names called. Brown’s senior season, not to mention his intriguing measureables, had some projecting him as early as the fifth round.
Okwara, still 20 years old and fresh off leading Notre Dame in sacks in back-to-back seasons, intrigued a lot of teams with his ability to play both defensive end and outside linebacker. He’ll get a chance to make the Giants—the team didn’t draft a defensive end after selecting just one last year, and they’re in desperate need of pass rushers.
Both Shumate and Farley feel like contenders to earn a spot on rosters, both because of their versatility and special teams skills. Shumate played nickel back as a freshman and improved greatly at safety during 2015. Farley bounced around everywhere and was Notre Dame’s special teams captain.
Carlisle might fit a similar mold. He played running back, receiver and returned kicks and punts throughout his college career. With a 4.4 during Notre Dame’s Pro Day, he likely showed the Cardinals enough to take a shot, and now he’ll join an offense with Michael Floyd and Troy Niklas.
Demetris Robertson‘s decision wasn’t trending in Notre Dame’s direction. But those that expected the Savannah star athlete to pick the in-state Bulldogs were in for a surprise when Robertson chose Cal on Sunday afternoon.
Notre Dame’s pursuit of the five-star athlete, recruited to play outside receiver and hopefully replace Will Fuller, likely ended Sunday afternoon with Robertson making the surprise decision to take his substantial talents to Berkeley. And give credit to Robertson for doing what he said all along—picking a school that’ll give him the chance to earn an exceptional education and likely contribute from Day One.
“I am excited to take my talents to the University of California, Berkeley. The first reason is that the education was a big part of my decision. I wanted to keep that foundation,” Robertson said, per CFT. “When I went there, it felt like home. Me and the coaching staff have a great relationship. That’s where I felt were the best of all things for me.”
Adding one final twist in all of this is that Robertson has no letter-of-intent to sign. Because he’s blown three months through Signing Day, Robertson merely enrolls at a college when the time comes. That means until then, Kirby Smart and the Georgia staff will continue to sell Robertson on staying home and helping the Dawgs rebuild. Smart visited with Robertson Saturday night and had multiple assistant coaches at his track meet this weekend.
Summer school begins in June for Notre Dame. Their freshman receiving class looks complete with early enrollee Kevin Stepherson and soon-to-arrive pass-catchers Javon McKinley and Chase Claypool.
Former Notre Dame captain Sheldon Day didn’t have to wait long on Saturday to hear his name called. The Indianapolis native, All-American, and the Irish’s two-time defensive lineman of the year was pick number 103, the fourth pick of the fourth round on Saturday afternoon.
Day was the seventh Irish player drafted, following first rounders Ronnie Stanley and Will Fuller, second round selections Jaylon Smith and Nick Martin, and third rounders KeiVarae Russell and C.J. Prosise.
Day has a chance to contribute as he joins the 24th-ranked defense in the league. Joining a draft class heavy on defensive players—Jalen Ramsey, Myles Jack and Yannick Ngakoue already picked ahead of him—the front seven will also include last year’s No. 3 overall pick Dante Fowler, who missed the entire season with a knee injury.
Scouted by the Jaguars at the Senior Bowl, Day doesn’t necessarily have the size to be a traditional defensive tackle. But under Gus Bradley’s attacking system (Bradley coordinated the Seahawks defense for four seasons), Day will find a niche and a role in a young defense that’s seen a heavy investment the past two years.
Jaylon Smith, Nick Martin, KeiVarae Russell and C.J. Prosise were all selected on Friday, with four Irish teammates taken on the second night of the NFL Draft. As mentioned, Smith came off the board at pick 34, with the Cowboys gambling on the injured knee of the Butkus Award winner. Nick Martin was selected at pick 50, joining former teammate Will Fuller in Houston.
The third round saw Russell and Prosise come off the board, with Kansas City jumping on the confident cornerback and the Seahawks taking Notre Dame’s breakout running back. It capped off a huge night for the Irish with Sheldon Day, one of the more productive football players in college football, still on the board for teams to pick.
Here’s a smattering of instant reactions from the immediate aftermath.