While head coach Brian Kelly made a point of not looking too closely at the initial depth chart, here’s where the two-deep starts as camp begins.
QB: Dayne Crist, Nate Montana
RB: Armando Allen, Robert Hughes
LT: Zack Martin, Matt Romine
LG: Chris Stewart, Mike Golic
C: Dan Wenger, Braxston Cave
RG: Trevor Robinson, Chris Watt
RT: Taylor Dever, Andrew Nuss
WR: Duval Kamara, John Goodman
WR: Michael Floyd, Shaq Evans
WR: Theo Riddick, TJ Jones
TE: Kyle Rudolph, Bobby Burger
Obviously the battle at center will be one to follow throughout camp, as many had guessed that Braxston Cave had wrestled the starting job away from Dan Wenger during spring practice. Listening to offensive coordinator Charley Molnar today, he said that exiting camp, Wenger was ahead by a bit, but that’s obviously up for grabs starting tomorrow.
Also interesting is the tight end depth chart. Conspicuously absent is Mike Ragone, who was cleared to play after his run-in at the beginning of summer, but might have to work from the back of the line to get some playing time.
I’m not surprised that the top two running backs are Allen and Hughes. If Cierre Wood or Jonas Gray are going to get playing time, they’re going to have to earn it over two seniors that have played a lot of football. What is a bit surprising is that Theo Riddick has leap-frogged TJ Jones, who was one of spring’s big surprises after a breakout first semester at Notre Dame. I expect both of them to see the field a lot, but you’ve got to think that Riddick’s shoulder injury limited his ability to thrive this spring.
DE: Ethan Johnson, Hafis Williams
NT: Ian Williams, Sean Cwynar
DE: Kapron Lewis-Moore, Emeka Nwankwo
OLB: Darius Fleming, Kerry Neal
ILB: Manti Te’o, Steve Paskorz
ILB: Anthony McDonald, Carlo Calabrese
OLB: Brian Smith, Steve Filer
CB: Gary Gray, E.J. Banks
CB: Darrin Walls, Robert Blanton
S: Harrison Smith, Zeke Motta
S: Jamoris Slaughter, Dan McCarthy
No real surprises on here, though it’s interesting than Cwynar will be the second defensive tackle into the mix. I’m guessing that he had a great off season, and packed on a lot of mass, weight and power that he’ll need to use to fill the middle of the defense.
Interestingly, it’s Carlo Calabrese who fills the two-deep and not David Posluszny, who was mentioned by Kelly today as one of three people fighting for the second linebacker spot. Staying with linebackers, if I had to guess, I’m expecting to see all four OLBs listed on the field a lot, and even a fifth in Dan Fox, who got a lot of praise from defensive coaches.
Last thought: It’s no wonder that it looked like Ethan Johnson was playing on roller skates last year if his squat was below 400 pounds. That’s just not enough power for a guy trying to play on the interior of the defensive line. Now he’s squatting 550 pounds and playing a position he should be at. I’ve been hard on Ethan, but I expect the extra muscle to translate nicely.