Rosters set for the Blue-Gold Game

1 Comment

Notre Dame released the rosters for tomorrow’s Blue-Gold Game, with both squads featuring a number of starters.

The Blue team features Michael Floyd, Armando Allen, Kyle Rudolph, Dayne Crist on offense and Gary Gray, Jamoris Slaughter, Anthony McDonald, Brian Smith, and Ethan Johnson on defense.

The Gold team will feature Nate Montana, Shaq Evans, Duval Kamara, and Robert Hughes on offense, while the defense will have Darren Walls, Manti Te’o, Robert Blanton, Darius Fleming, Kapron Lewis-Moore, and Ian Williams.

There are a number of players that’ll see time on both rosters.

For the complete rosters, see below:

BLUE TEAM
No. Name Pos. Ht. Wt. Class* Hometown/High
School
3 Floyd, Michael WR 6-3 220 Jr. St. Paul, MN/Cretin-Derham
Hall
4 Gray, Gary CB 5-11 190 Sr. Columbia, SC/Richland
Northeast
5 Allen, Armando TB 5-10 201 Sr. Opa Locka,
FL/Hialeah-Miami Lakes
7 Jones, TJ WR 5-11 185 Fr.
Gainesville, GA/Gainesville
9 Rudolph, Kyle TE 6-6 265 Jr.
Cincinnati, OH/Elder
10 Crist, Dayne QB 6-4 235 Jr. Canoga
Park, CA/Notre Dame
17 Motta, Zeke S 6-2 210 So. Vero Beach,
FL/Vero Beach
17 Mulvey, M. QB 6-2 191 Jr. Del Mar,
CA/LaJolla
19 Toma, Roby WR 5-9 175 So. Laie, HI/Punahou
20
Wood, Cierre TB 6-0 210 So. Oxnard, CA/Santa Clara
21 Gallup
Jr., Barry WR 5-11 185 Sr. Wellesley, MA/Belmont Hill
23 Wood, Lo
CB 5-10 175 Fr. Apopka, FL/Apopka
26 Slaughter, J. S
6-0 195 Jr. Stone Mountain, GA/Tucker
27 Banks, E.J. CB 5-11
180 So. Pittsburgh, PA/Montour
29 Coughlin, P. TB 6-0 195 Sr.
Oak Lawn, IL/Brother Rice
30 Paskorz, Steve ILB 6-1 245 Sr. Allison
Park, PA/Hampton
30 Redshaw, James CB 5-9 175 Sr. North Huntingdon,
PA/Norwin
33 Salvi, Chris+ S 5-10 180 Jr. Lake Forest,
IL/Carmel Catholic
35 Turk, Ben P 5-11 196 So. Davie, FL/St.
Thomas Aquinas
36 Posluszny, David ILB 6-0 225 Jr. Aliquippa,
PA/Hopewell
39 Sheehan, Ryan+ CB 5-10 177 Sr. Purcellville,
VA/Loudown Valley
40 Smith, Thomas+ S 6-1 215 Sr. Manchester, CT/East
Catholic
48 Fox, Dan OLB 6-3 230 So. Rocky River, OH/St.
Ignatius
48 Ruffer, David+ K 6-1 176 Sr. Oakton, VA/Gonzaga
51
Wenger, Dan C 6-4 297 Sr. Coral Springs, FL/Saint Thomas Aquinas
54
McDonald, A. ILB 6-2 230 Jr. Burbank, CA/Notre Dame
56 Neal, Kerry
OLB 6-2 244 Sr. Bunn, NC/Bunn
57 Golic Jr., Mike C 6-3 283 Jr.
West Hartford, CT/Northwest Catholic
58 Smith, Brian OLB 6-3
234 Sr. Overland Park, KS/Saint Thomas Aquinas
60 Cowart, Jordan LS
6-2 215 So. Plantation, FL/St. Thomas Aquinas
62 Flavin, Bill+
OC/LS 6-3 260 Sr. Darien, IL/Benet Academy
63 Botsford, Steve+ DE
6-2 220 Sr. Arlington Heights, IL/St. Viator
71 Mahoney, D.
OT 6-7 289 Jr. Baltimore, MD/Boys Latin High School
75 Dever, Taylor
OT 6-5 301 Sr. Nevada City, CA/Nevada Union
77 Romine, Matt
OT 6-5 298 Sr. Tulsa, OK/Union
78 Robinson, Trevor OG 6-5 300 Jr.
Elkhorn, NE/Elkhorn
80 Eifert, Tyler TE 6-6 240 So. Fort
Wayne, IN/Bishop Dwenger
81 Goodman, John WR 6-3 205 Jr. Fort Wayne,
IN/Bishop Dwenger
86 Burger, Bobby+ FB/TE 6-2 245 Sr. Cincinnati,
OH/LaSalle
90 Johnson, Ethan DE 6-4 280 Jr. Portland, OR/Lincoln
91
Nwankwo, Emeka DE 6-4 280 Sr. N. Miami Beach, FL/Chaminade-Madonna Prep
92
Stockton, Tyler NG 6-0 290 So. Linwood, NJ/Hun School
98 Cwynar,
Sean DE 6-4 281 Jr. McHenry, IL/Marian Central Catholic

GOLD TEAM
No. Name Pos. Ht. Wt. Class* Hometown/High
School
1 Walker, Deion WR 6-3 195 Jr. Christchurch, VA/Christchurch
2
Walls, Darrin CB 6-0 185 Sr. Pittsburgh, PA/Woodland Hills
5
Te’o, Manti ILB 6-2 250 So. Laie, HI/Punahou
6 Boyd, Spencer
CB 5-10 175 Fr. Cape Coral, FL/Cape Coral
11 Evans, Shaquelle WR 6-1
205 So. Inglewood, CA/Inglewood
12 Blanton, Robert CB 6-1 190 Jr.
Matthews, NC/Butler
13 Rees, Tommy QB 6-2 200 Fr. Lake Forest,
IL/Lake Forest
14 Walker, Brandon K 6-3 210 Sr. Findlay, OH/Findlay
15
Castello, Brian+ QB 6-2 210 Sr. Pittsburgh, PA/Chartiers Valley
15
McCarthy, Dan S 6-2 205 Jr. Youngstown, OH/Cardinal Mooney
16
Montana, Nate+ QB 6-4 215 Jr. Concord, CA/De La Salle
18 Kamara,
Duval WR 6-4 220 Sr. Jersey City, NJ/Hoboken
22 Smith, Harrison S 6-2
212 Sr. Knoxville, TN/Knoxville Catholic
24 Badger, Chris S 6-0 195
Fr. Provo, UT/Timpview
25 Gray, Jonas TB 5-10 225 Jr.
Pontiac, MI/Detroit Country Day
27 Herlihy, Derry+ TB 6-0 198 Sr.
Houston, TX/St. John’s
29 Garcia, Michael+ S 6-2 195 Sr. Colorado
Springs, CO/St. Mary’s
32 Riddick, Theo WR 5-11 190 So. Manville,
NJ/Immaculata
33 Hughes, Robert TB/FB 5-11 245 Sr. Chicago,
IL/Hubbard
35 Plaska, Andrew+ CB 5-11 185 Jr. Zeeland, MI/Zeeland
West
36 Kramer, Pat+ P 5-11 160 Jr. Akron, OH/Archbishop Hoban
38
Gurries, C.+ WR 5-10 186 Sr. Reno, NV/Bishop Manoque
40
Tausch, Nick K 6-0 190 So. Plano, TX/Jesuit
42 Franco, Dan+
WR 5-10 188 Sr. Granger, IN/Clay
42 Lezynski, Nick+ CB 5-9 180 Sr.
Newton, PA/Notre Dame High School
44 Calabrese, Carlo ILB 6-1 245 So.
Verona, NJ/Verona
45 Fleming, Darius OLB 6-2 245 Jr. Chicago, IL/St.
Rita
46 Filer, Steve OLB 6-3 235 Jr. Chicago, IL/Mount
Carmel
50 Kavanagh, Ryan+ LS 6-3 200 Jr. West Chester, PA/Salesianum
(Del.)
50 Oxley, Sean ILB 6-2 227 Jr. Avon Lake, OH/Avon
Lake
52 Cave, Braxston C 6-3 309 Jr. Mishawaka, IN/Penn
59
Stewart, Chris OG 6-5 344 Sr. Spring, TX/Klein
61 Quintana, M
DE 6-0 232 Sr. Berwyn, IL/St. Joseph
62 Skubis, C. DE 6-2
232 Sr. Clarence, NY/Clarence
65 Wray, Evan+ ILB 6-0 215 Sr.
Kettering, OH/Kettering Fairmont
66 Watt, Chris OG 6-3 313
So. Glen Ellyn, IL/Glenbard West
70 Martin, Zack OT 6-4 280
So. Indianapolis, IN/Bishop Chatard
73 Clelland, Lane OT 6-5 290 Jr.
Owings Mills, MD/McDonogh School
76 Nuss, Andrew OG 6-5 303 Sr.
Ashburn, VA/Stone Bridge
79 Williams, Hafis NG 6-1 290 Jr. Elizabeth,
NJ/Elizabeth
83 Ragone, Mike TE 6-4 250 Sr. Cherry Hill, NJ/Camden
Catholic
88 Golic, Jake TE 6-4 230 So. West Hartford,
CT/Northwest Catholic
89 Lewis-Moore, K DE 6-4 275 Jr. Weatherford,
TX/Weatherford
95 Williams, Ian NG 6-2 301 Sr. Altamonte
Springs, FL/Lyman
99 Newman, B NG 6-0 297 Jr. Louisville,
KY/Pleasure Ridge Park
 

Jarrett Grace signs FA contract with Chicago Bears

SOUTH BEND, IN - SEPTEMBER 5: Jarrett Grace #59 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in action during a game against the Texas Longhorns at Notre Dame Stadium on September 5, 2015 in South Bend, Indiana. Notre Dame defeated Texas 38-3. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Getty
12 Comments

Former Notre Dame linebacker Jarrett Grace has signed with the Chicago Bears. The former Rockne Award winner will continue his improbable return from a devastating leg injury during OTAs and training camp, fighting for a roster spot on the NFC North squad.

Grace worked out for the Bears at a tryout camp and Chicago made the roster move official Wednesday, signing Grace and releasing linebacker Danny Mason.

After redshirting as a freshman and sitting behind Manti Te’o, Grace moved into the starting lineup as a junior and led the Irish in tackles before suffering a severe leg injury against Arizona State. It took nearly two years for Grace to return to duty, needing to re-learn how to run as he underwent multiple procedures to repair the rod that held Grace’s bone in place.

He played in 32 games for the Irish, finishing with 78 total tackles.

Irish A-to-Z: Grant Blankenship

Notre Dame v Syracuse
Getty
6 Comments

Notre Dame’s junior defensive end has an unclear status entering his third season in the program. Suspended by Brian Kelly this spring after playing minimal snaps as a sophomore, the Texas native already had an unclear path to the field even before you consider his status as a member of the team and student at the university.

After playing in 11 games as a true freshman, Blankenship struggled to make progress after adding the mass needed to play on the strong side. With the depth chart at defensive end already in question, Blankenship is a true unknown entering 2016.

 

GRANT BLANKENSHIP
6’5″, 278
Junior, No. 92, DE

 

RECRUITING PROFILE

A late-riser on the recruiting scene, Blankenship turned down an offer from Charlie Strong to stick with his commitment to Notre Dame, his favorite program as a child. An early target by former defensive coordinator Bob Diaco, and he stuck with Notre Dame even after Diaco departed for UConn.

Not highly rated, Blankenship fell outside the 250 recruits on 247’s composite.

 

 

PLAYING CAREER

Freshman Season (2014): Played in 11 games, making 12 tackles including one TFL. Didn’t play against Navy or LSU. Made three tackles against Syracuse.

Sophomore Season (2015): Appeared in three games, making one assisted tackle. Played a season-high 10 snaps against UMass.

 

WHAT WE PROJECTED LAST YEAR

Blankenship’s participation took a step backwards. He looked like a potential redshirt until he played in garbage time. Partial credit, at best. Nobody gave Rochell and Day a break.

It’s too hard to project Blankenship as a 30-snap-a-game contributor. But if he’s forced into action, the experience he got last season will come in handy. More likely, Blankenship will be part of an expanded front seven depth chart, and will make it easier to keep guys like Isaac Rochell and Sheldon Day fresh.

As a second-year player, he and Andrew Trumbetti have a chance to both make big steps forward this season. If either can help a pass rush that needs to win more from base packages, it’ll be huge for the defense. Expect new defensive line coach Keith Gilmore to get this through to Blankenship, who likely derives fuel from being overlooked, something he certainly was last season.

 

FUTURE POTENTIAL

We’ll know a lot more about Blankenship’s future when the Irish enroll in summer school. If he’s there, it’ll signal that there’s a road back onto the team. If not, it’ll be another washout at defensive end, a position that’s been very difficult to keep together.

At this point, barring some remarkable change to his production or the depth chart, there doesn’t look like much of a road to playing time for Blankenship, at least not with Isaac Rochell on the roster in front of him.

 

CRYSTAL BALL

Very unclear.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Blankenship was a part of a different program come next fall or buried on the depth chart at Notre Dame. The one reason for optimism is the position he plays. There’s opportunity at defensive end, especially if you can rush the passer.

Blankenship hasn’t show that ability yet. Part of that came from gaining a ton of weight between his freshman and sophomore seasons. The other part of it was scheme—he was recruited by Bob Diaco to play a different type of end.

Let’s get Blankenship out of the doghouse and back onto the field before we look for optimism.

 

2016’s Irish A-to-Z
Josh Adams
Josh Barajas
Alex Bars
Asmar Bilal
Hunter Bivin

 

This week’s episode of Blown Coverage features me pitching John Walters on the perfect three-year solution for Notre Dame’s QB conundrum. And a bunch of other stuff. Enjoy. 

Even with talent drain, Irish can be CFB Playoff contender

LANDOVER, MD - NOVEMBER 01: Head coach Brian Kelly of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish looks on from the sidelines during the first half against the Navy Midshipmen at FedExField on November 1, 2014 in Landover, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
28 Comments

Brian Kelly’s next football team might have less talent than the group that produced seven of the first 103 picks in the NFL Draft. But it might have a better chance to make it to the College Football Playoff.

It’s a trendy thought lately. The kind of thing you do when it’s May and we’re still a long way away from any football this fall.

But there’s good reason to be bullish on the Irish. And SBNation’s Bill Connelly providing the thinking man’s rationale for the optimism last week when he unveiled his preview of the 2016 Fighting Irish.

The entire preview is very much worth your time, but here’s the synopsis:

  • Brian Kelly is an excellent coach. (Sorry complainers.)
  • Whoever wins the quarterback job is going to be really good.
  • An offensive line that’ll reload.
  • Tons of skill talent.
  • A defense trending in the right direction.
  • A good close game team.
  • A schedule that’s more conducive to winning.

Again, go read the article. (You’ll be smarter for it.) But after crunching many of the variables, here’s Connelly’s mighty optimistic conclusion:

There isn’t a sure loss on the schedule. In fact, there’s only one game in which Notre Dame has a worse than 59 percent chance of winning. But operating in close games will be critical. That means finding go-to receivers for the quarterback in times of need, continued quality from Yoon, and a defense that improves up front despite turnover and holds steady in the back despite freshmen on the two-deep.

All of the “ifs” are realistic, and while the defense still has plenty to prove, I’m not going to doubt Kelly after last year. If I had a poll vote — and thank goodness I don’t — I would seriously consider Notre Dame in the preseason top five.

With Notre Dame’s two regular-season losses coming in the final moments of road games to top-five teams, this isn’t the type of “Here Come the Irish” headline that invaded our psyche and ruined the enjoyment of seasons under Bob Davie, Ty Willingham or Charlie Weis, the later still finding his way into the schlock headlines thanks to Notre Dame’s latest tax return release.

But Brian Kelly’s consistency has turned proclamations like Connelly’s into a decidedly uninteresting one. And at the same time that we go inch-by-inch through the roster, it’s helpful to see what the Irish look like from a 30,000-foot view—a better vantage point to evaluate progress than the perch most of us inhabit.

So while all previews in May expire by the time the calendar hits August, let’s go through the bullet points (as appropriated by me, not Connelly) just to add to the discussion.

 

Brian Kelly: elite coach. (No question mark) 

Right now, that’s a fairly undeniable assertion. And for those of you who’ll haggle about the definition of elite or harken back to a two-point conversion chart or the selection of the team’s defensive coordinator, this might be the best question to ask yourself: “After Nick Saban and Urban Meyer, who else do you want running your program?”

 

The quarterback battle.

If there’s something that I find reassuring, it’s the fact that Connelly hasn’t lost the plot on this. Whoever wins the quarterback battle will play at a very high level. Or they won’t play at all.

As Kelly, Mike Denbrock and Mike Sanford showed last season, the Irish will coach up a quarterback and get very productive play out of them. (Unlike what happened at Ohio State last year.) And with Brandon Wimbush putting the redshirt on, Notre Dame has one of the country’s most dangerous weapons waiting in the wings.

 

The offensive line should be good again.

Remember all those data-driven pieces about minutes-played correlating to excellent offensive line play? I still believe them. But I also think the Irish will produce a very, very productive offensive line even with three new starters, thanks to two starting NFL linemen on the left side of their center and Alex Bars likely on his way, too.

 

Those skill players? They’ll be good.  

I’m bullish on the ground game. I’m high on the young talent in the secondary. And I’ll give the benefit of the doubt to a receiving corps that I think is still a little more unsorted than I’d guess this staff wants.

Torii Hunter should lead the unit. After that, I’m not sure what to expect.

The move of Alizé Jones to the “W” (boundary side) receiver gives you an idea that this staff is preparing to go forward if Corey Robinson steps away from the game because of concussions. It also might point to an offensive direction that’s more similar to 2012, a physical approach that could put more tight ends on the field and would allow the Irish to lean on a very strong running game and a quarterback who’ll be able to take deep shots down the field.

 

The Defense?

How you improve after losing headliners like Sheldon Day, Jaylon Smith, Joe Schmidt, Elijah Shumate and KeiVarae Russell is hard to comprehend. But I think this unit will have more versatility, as injuries and certain personnel limitations really hamstrung a unit that was maddeningly inconsistent at times.

Can they improve against the run? I think the answer starts with Jarron Jones and Jerry Tillery, two stout guys who’ll hold up in the trenches in front of Nyles Morgan. That’ll serve as the critical building block to the scheme, with pieces added and subtracted to make sure the Irish can be multiple and match-up with opponents on a weekly basis.

I’m punting on this topic (for now), while acknowledging that improvement on this side of the football is critical to success and the biggest unknown heading into the season.

 

Good play in tight games

Remember those heart-stopping finishes in the Weis era? Or that dreadful feeling you got every time a game got close and an opponent mounted a comeback?

For some, it’ll never go away. But under Brian Kelly, the Irish have been a very good close game team—even considering the two tight losses last year.

I appreciate the comparison Connelly made in his piece to a baseball team with a good bullpen. When the Irish have been at their best, they’ve been able to control the game late with solid quarterback play, a dependable running game and a defense that held up.

Justin Yoon and Tyler Newsome play an important part in this process, too. The specialist duo will help control field position and make critical kicks, with Yoon putting together a really respectable freshman season and Newsome showcasing a booming leg.

 

The Schedule

I haven’t fully dug into the intricacies of the schedule, but just at face value it’s a much less daunting climb that years past. The Irish get Michigan State and Stanford at home (and under the lights) and replace Clemson with North Carolina State. Army comes back onto the schedule and Navy loses the majority of its team, including star Keenan Reynolds.

There is no shortage of coaching pedigree that Brian Kelly will face. Mark Richt, David Cutcliffe, and some young rising talent like Justin Fuente and Clay Helton in a regular season finale in Los Angeles.

But you can only win the games you play, and you can only play the teams on your schedule. (Thanks, Yogi.) As Connelly mentioned, there’s no “sure loss” on this slate, and I think Notre Dame will be favored every time they take the field next year.

 

Jurkovec’s commitment as solid as it can get

Phil Jurkovec 247
247 Sports
13 Comments

In a sport like college football, not much is certain. Coaching changes, recruiting battles, it is a week to week sport in nearly every sense of the word.

So when coveted 2018 quarterback Phil Jurkovec chose Notre Dame last week, many kept their enthusiasm tempered. Especially with memories of prospects like Blake Barnett fresh in their minds.

But Jurkovec seems to have his priorities aligned. And a recent comment to Matt Freeman of IrishSportsDaily.com should have Irish fans feeling very good about their young QB-in-waiting.

For as long as Notre Dame has recruited, teams have recruited against Notre Dame. And in recent years, the sales pitch has changed—not from worries of a head coach or assistants being fired, but rather the chance that they may leave for greener pastures.

In this case, you have to feel good that Jurkovec seems to understand the realities of the situation. Because even if Brian Kelly is in the NFL or Mike Sanford is running his own program, the Golden Dome will still be standing.

Of course, it doesn’t do anything to guarantee Jurkovec will be in South Bend come 2018, but it certainly points to a kid and family having done their due diligence before making such an important decision.