Getty Images - Jonathan Daniel

Ian Williams talks Draft, Michael Floyd

10 Comments

I’ve mentioned Ian Williams’ draft diary at the South Bend Tribune before, but you really should be checking out his updates as he preps for the upcoming NFL Draft.

This week, Ian checks in as he works on getting his 40-yard dash time down, where I’m guessing he’s trying to find a way to clock in at sub 5.0, no easy feat for a guy that weighs over 300 pounds. (As Ian mentioned, it’s all in your start…)

Between training in Chicago, taking his first business class this spring, and getting prepped for piano class, Williams also had some very level-headed commentary on Michael Floyd, and his future with the Fighting Irish football team.

One of the great things about being back up here is seeing all of my old teammates. I talk to a lot of them, including Michael Floyd.

What happened to him (arrested for drunk driving early Sunday morning and subsequently indefinitely suspended from the team) was a tough incident. I wish that upon nobody.

I actually was in town the night that it happened. I actually called him a couple of hours before everything happened, and I’ve talked to him since.

He says he’s learned his lesson. He’s looking to get back into the spotlight and show people that’s not really him, because that’s not Michael Floyd.

We’re all in college, we all make mistakes. Nobody’s perfect. He’s learned his lesson. He’s looking to move forward and get past this moment.

I hope Res Life (Notre Dame’s disciplinary arm) lets him do that. Res Life is tough. I remember when I was getting recruited, people were telling me don’t be scared of the laws. Res Life is what you should be scared of.

I just hope they give him a break. It’s a one-time offense. He’s truly sorry. It’s not like he was doing it on purpose. I don’t know why he was doing it, but I know it wasn’t like, “Oh. I’m Michael Floyd. Nothing will happen to me.” I just hope they give him a second chance.

As an athlete, you know what you’re getting into with the spotlight. And you can take it two ways.

We do what we do, knowing our lives are going to be public, everything we do is going to be public. That’s kind of a side effect of being an athlete, playing basketball or football or whatever.

You can take it and run and do something good with it or you can take it and run and do something bad with it. It comes down to how you perceive it and how you want to take it on.

I just want to let everyone know that Floyd is a great kid. He will get past this and will be great this season. Don’t worry about it.

One of the problems with sports media and the current state of our culture is that we’re forced to make snap judgments. Black or white, right or wrong. There’s no room for gray or degrees of fault. At every level, what Michael did was wrong, and now he’s left it up to the university, and after that, head coach Brian Kelly, to decide what the proper punishment is for one of the team’s best examples and leaders. (That didn’t change after one bad Saturday night.)

As someone that’s watched Michael Floyd play football since he was a ninth grader and as someone who doesn’t even try to hide his prejudicial preference for all things No. 3, it’s hard for me to be someone who argues for anything other than giving Floyd a second chance.

Driving drunk is a terrible mistake and something someone like Floyd, who turned down millions of dollars to return to school, should know better not to do. Yet he’s spent the last four years of his life at Notre Dame, a pro-alcohol school and before that CDH, another place where students seem to only struggle with the alcohol bug. It’s easy to get indignant as a fan that realizes how privileged. Yet there’s no reason not to think that Floyd don’t deserves a second chance, and if he makes it through Res Life, and into the fall semester, he’ll be back on the field.

Until then, we’ll just have to find out…

Restocking the roster: Wide Receivers

Notre Dame v Florida State
Getty
3 Comments

Some believe that the best way to look at recruiting is in two-year increments. As programs rebuild and rosters turn over, covering the needs of a football team over two recruiting cycles  allows a coaching staff to balance its roster.

That balance is critical to the health of a program. And it’s not just the work of a rebuilding coach. As we saw in Brian Kelly’s sixth season, injuries, attrition and scheme change impacted the defense, especially in the secondary.

Another position set to deal with major change is wide receiver. Gone is All-American Will Fuller, departing South Bend after three years, scoring 29 touchdowns over the past two seasons. He’ll look to run his way into the first round of the NFL Draft. Also gone are veterans Chris Brown and Amir Carlisle, putting the Irish in an unenviable position, needing to replace the team’s three leading receivers.

Reinforcements aren’t just on the way, they’re already on campus. While there’s not a ton of production to see, the recruiting stockpile has created a chance to reload for Mike Denbrock’s troop. So let’s take a look at the additions and subtractions on the roster, analyzing the two-year recruiting run as we restock the receiving corps.

DEPARTURES
Will Fuller
, Jr. (62 catches, 1,258 yards, 14 TDs)
Chris Brown, Sr. (48 catches, 597 yards, 4 TDs)
Amir Carlisle, GS (32 catches, 355 yards, 1 TD)
Jalen Guyton, Fr. (transfer)

 

ADDITIONS
Equanimeous St. Brown

Miles Boykin*
CJ Sanders
Jalen Guyton
Chase Claypool*
Javon McKinley*
Kevin Stepherson*

 

PRE-SPRING DEPTH CHART
Corey Robinson, Sr.
Torii Hunter, Sr.*
Justin Brent, Jr.*
Corey Holmes, Jr.*
CJ Sanders, Soph.
Miles Boykin, Soph.*
Equanimeous St. Brown, Soph.
Kevin Stepherson, Fr.*

 

ANALYSIS
Brian Kelly expects St. Brown to step into Will Fuller’s shoes. If the Irish are able to pluck another sophomore from obscurity to the national spotlight, it’ll say quite a bit about the depth and productivity the Irish staff has built at the position. At 6-foot-5, St. Brown has a more tantalizing skill-set than Fuller—and he was a national recruit out of a Southern California powerhouse. But until we see St. Brown burn past defenders and make big plays, assuming the Irish won’t miss Fuller is a big leap of faith.

The next objective of the spring is getting Corey Robinson back on track. The rising senior had a forgettable junior season, ruined by injuries and some bruised confidence. A player who has shown flashes of brilliance during his three seasons in South Bend, the time is now for Robinson, not just as a performer but as an on-field leader.

Torii Hunter Jr. is also poised for a big season. After finding reps at slot receiver and possessing the versatility to see the field from multiple spots, Hunter needs to prove in 2016 that he’s not just a utility man but an everyday starter. His hands, smooth athleticism and speed should have him primed for a breakout. But Hunter might not want to stay in the slot if CJ Sanders is ready to take over. After a big freshman season on special teams, Sanders looks ready to make his move into the lineup, perhaps the purest slot receiver Brian Kelly has had since he arrived in South Bend.

The rest of the spring depth chart should have modest goals, though all face rather critical offseasons. Justin Brent is three years into his college career and the biggest headlines he’s made have been off the field. Whether he sticks at receiver or continues to work as a reserve running back remains to be seen. Corey Holmes is another upperclassman who we still can’t figure out. Will he ascend into the rotation with the top three veterans gone, or will he give way to some talented youngsters?

Miles Boykin earned praise last August, but it didn’t get him time on the field. He’ll enter spring with four years of eligibility, same as early-enrollee Kevin Stepherson. The Irish staff thinks Stepherson has the type of deep speed that they covet, capable of running past cornerbacks and stretching a defense. Boykin has size and physicality that could present intriguing options for an offense that’ll be less reliant on one man now that Fuller is gone.

Live Video Mailbag: 40-year decision, more BVG, freshmen and more

BVG
23 Comments

We’ve done plenty of mailbags, but this is our first shot at a Live Video Mailbag. This should be a better way to answer more questions and hopefully interact with a few of you as we try to work off some of yesterday’s Super Bowl snacks.

Topics on the list: The 40-year decision, more Brian VanGorder talk, the incoming (and redshirt) freshmen and a whole lot more.

***

Kelly and Swarbrick turn attention to science of injury prevention

os-notre-dame-ad-pleased-acc-move-20140513-001
Getty
11 Comments

Amidst the chaos of their live Signing Day show, UND.com ran had a far-reaching interview with head coach Brian Kelly. It was conducted by his boss, athletic director Jack Swarbrick, and his former team captain, Joe Schmidt.

So while there was a little bit of talk about the 23 recruits who signed their national letters-of-intent, there was also a very illuminating exchange on an issue that’s really plagued the Irish the past few seasons: Injuries.

Football is a dangerous game. And for as long as people play it, there’ll be impactful injuries that take players off the field. But as Notre Dame settles into what looks like their longest run of stability since the Holtz era, the focus of Kelly and Swarbrick has moved past modernizing the team’s medical services, strength program and nutrition and onto the science of injury prevention.

Here’s what Kelly said about the efforts currently taking shape:

“I think the science piece is very important, because no longer is it just about strength and conditioning,  it’s about durability. It’s the ability to continue to play at an optimal level but also with the rigors of a college schedule, and particularly here at Notre Dame, how do we maximize the time but maximizing getting the most out of our student-athletes and not lose them?

“As you know, we’ve had a couple years here in a rough stretch of injuries. And how do we have an injury prevention protocol that brings in the very best science? You’ve done a great job of reaching out in getting us those kind of resources. so I think tapping into that is probably the next piece. As well as providing the resources for our student-athletes. Continuing to look at facilities. Continuing to give our student-athletes maybe that little edge. Because everybody’s got 85 scholarships.”

It’s clear that the issue is one that’s on the radar for not just Kelly, but the athletic administration. So it’ll be interesting to see some of the steps taken as the program begins investing time and additional resources to an issue that’s really hit the Irish hard the past few seasons.

There’s plenty of other good stuff in the 13-minute interview, so give it a watch.