Matthias Farley

Farley making the switch to wide receiver

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On a roster relatively shy of defensive backs, Brian Kelly and staff decided to remove one more from the depth chart.

Only this time, it was before he ever officially got started.

News broke today that incoming freshman Matthias Farley is moving to wide receiver just weeks before the newcomer was set to report to campus. Farley was initially projected to play cornerback for the Irish next season, a position where the Irish have little depth behind starters Gary Gray and Robert Blanton.

The move seems to be one of the last personnel moves before the Irish begin unofficial summer workouts, getting both the players and strength coach Paul Longo properly aligned for June.

Christian McCollum of IrishSportsDaily.com has the details:

Farley ended up with offers from a host of BCS football programs before committing to Notre Dame as a defensive back. He was all set to line up in the defensive huddle at South Bend until a call from his recruiter, Mike Elston, a couple weeks ago.

“They reevaluated after spring ball and decided I would be more valuable to the team if I played slot receiver or receiver period,” Farley said. “I don’t know if it’s in the slot or outside yet for sure. Being so young to the game still, it’s not like I’m so set at one position. Whatever they feel I can contribute the most to. I’m real excited about it.

“I’m still doing the same workout stuff. I started doing a lot more running routes and catching to get back acclimated with that. I play both sides with the same mindset, so it’s not like I have to change a whole bunch of stuff.”

Extrapolating on this one a bit, the move to wide out could be a reaction or a prediction by Kelly and company. First, Farley was an intriguing wide receiver prospect, with the raw athlete only coming to football as a junior in high school after two seasons of soccer. His first season in high school he caught 12 touchdowns, averaging a whopping 25 yards a catch after taking off the Umbros and shin-pads.

Here’s what Brian Kelly said about Farley on Signing Day:

“If there’s one guy in the skill group that physically, when he walks in here, he looks like a college football player. He has that presence about him. Great young man. With great speed. And, again, he’s a young man that can play extremely versatile. Can play at the corner position, the safety position. He can play wide receiver. We’ll kind of sort that out as we move forward.”

Farley’s move leaves the secondary with six seven cornerbacks — Gary Gray, Robert Blanton, Lo Wood, Bennett Jackson, Josh Atkinson, Jalen Brown and Eilar Hardy. Behind Gray and Blanton the depth is unproven, but the Irish must feel comfortable in Jackson’s development as a fourth option and Brown and Atkinson’s cover abilities.

If Farley projected to be a safety, he likely would be behind Austin Collinsworth, who flipped sides of the ball during spring drills and is a favorite of Kelly’s. That leaves Harrison Smith, Jamoris Slaughter, Zeke Motta, Dan McCarthy and Collinsworth for two safety spots. Again, not great depth, but certainly nothing detrimental.

If we look at wide receiver, you’ve got to think that Luke Massa is still a developmental project, and Michael Floyd’s return is probable, but again — not certain. That leaves Theo Riddick, John Goodman, Robby Toma, TJ Jones, Deion Walker, and Daniel Smith, with Davaris Daniels and George Atkinson also entering the fray this year. Best case scenario — that’s ten guys for three spots.

But more than likely, Atkinson is going to play a hybrid role at running back/receiver. Robby Toma has taken strides at owning the slot position, with Theo Riddick also potentially finding a new niche — something closer to Percy Harvin at Florida and not necessarily a true wideout. With Duval Kamara gone, TJ Jones might slide into the outside position opposite Floyd (assuming he’s back), and — well… you can tell that there are a ton of moving parts on the offensive side of the ball, and a lot more places where a physically developed guy like Farley might fit in right away.There’s a very good chance Farley gives the Irish needed depth at a wide receiver position far less settled than in the secondary, even if there are more bodies.

Moving the checkers around the board during preseason camp without any knowledge of what’s going on behind the scenes might be an exercise in futility, but it sure is fun. Farley’s move is another example of Kelly recruiting “Skill,” and finding out where to put him later.

Kizer named MVP at annual ECHOES awards

echoes
@NDFootball Twitter
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DeShone Kizer was named the Monogram Club’s Most Valuable Player for the 2016 season at the 96th annual Notre Dame football awards banquet. Kizer was voted team MVP by his teammates, after throwing for 2,925 yards and 26 touchdowns and rushing for 472 yards and eight scores.

He was one of 15 players honored with an award at the “ECHOES,” with the following accolades being given:

Equanimeous St. Brown, Offensive Player of the Year.
James Onwualu, Defensive Player of the Year
Greer Martini, Next Man In award
Drue Tranquill, Rockne Student-Athlete Award
Cole Luke, Nick Pietrosante Award
Isaac Rochell, Lineman of the Year
Quenton Nelson, Offensive Lineman of the Year
Scott Daly, Special Teams Player of the Year
Alex Bars, Newcomer of the Year, Offense
Nyles Morgan, Newcomer of the Year, Defense
Ben Stuttman, Scout Team Player of the Year, Offense
Jonathan Jones, Scout Team Player of the Year, Defense
Mark Harrell, Father Lange Iron Cross
Tyler Newsome, Irish Around the Bend

 

 

Notre Dame names 7 captains for 2017 team

SOUTH BEND, IN - OCTOBER 17: Quenton Nelson #56 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish celebrates after a 10-yard touchdown reception by Corey Robinson against the USC Trojans in the fourth quarter of the game at Notre Dame Stadium on October 17, 2015 in South Bend, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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Notre Dame named seven captains for the 2017 season, the most to wear the ‘C’ in school history. Quarterback DeShone Kizer, linebackers Greer Martini and Nyles Morgan, offensive linemen Mike McGlinchey and Quenton Nelson, safety Drue Tranquill and walk-on receiver Austin Webster were all given the honor.

McGlinchey returns in the role, the 22nd different two-time captain in the program’s history. New to the job are the rest, including Kizer, who has yet to make a decision on if he’ll return for 2017 yet.

After worries about the team’s leadership heading into the 2016, the naming of captains in the immediate aftermath of the season is a change—Brian Kelly not naming his team’s official leaders into August training camp last year. It’s not an unprecedented move for Kelly (he named Harrison Smith and Michael Floyd team captains at the banquet following the 2010 season), though it points to some changes—some subtle, others not—that’ll likely take hold after a four-loss season.

Webster, a rising senior reserve wide receiver from California who has yet to register a stat in a Notre Dame uniform, made his debut as a sophomore in 2015 against UMass, is the first active walk-on to receive the honor.

 

Irish land blue-chip OL Aaron Banks

aaron-banks
Tom Loy, Irish 247
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Notre Dame received the commitment of 4-star offensive tackle Aaron Banks on Friday afternoon. Picking the Irish over a national offer list that included Michigan, Tennessee, and local programs USC and UCLA, the 6-foot-7, 335-pound Banks reminded all that even if the Irish only won four games this season, Harry Hiestand is still one of the premier offensive line coaches in the country.

Banks made the commitment from a ceremony at his high school in El Cerrito, California. And when he picked the Irish, he added to Notre Dame’s impressive offensive line haul, joining Dillan Gibbons, Joshua Lugg and Robert Hainsey — a key piece of the puzzle moving forward.

Banks is a consensus 4-star recruit and a Top 200 prospect. He took an official visit to Michigan in November, but has been a long-time target of Hiestand’s, visiting South Bend in September and welcoming Brian Kelly and Hiestand into his home after the USC game.

As a big recruiting weekend gets started at Notre Dame, the annual Echoes Awards will serve as the beginning of an important home stretch for a program without a bowl game. As Kelly still looks to lock in a defensive coordinator, not to mention other staff changes still in the air, Banks takes back some of the lost momentum, a key commitment heading into a holiday dead period before a furious finish leading into the first Wednesday in February.

Banks is No. 18 in the Irish recruiting class. He’s an early-enrollee, ready to hit campus within weeks and compete on the interior of the offensive line during spring ball.

Zaire says thank you to Notre Dame

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA - SEPTEMBER 12: Quarterback Malik Zaire #8 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish rushes past defensive end Mike Moore #32 of the Virginia Cavaliers in the third quarter at Scott Stadium on September 12, 2015 in Charlottesville, Virginia. The Notre Dame Fighting Irish won, 34-27. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Getty
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Big week for The Observer. Not just for its advertising revenues, but for the classy gesture that outgoing senior quarterback Malik Zaire made this week.

Thursday’s edition included a letter to the editor from Zaire, who took to the student newspaper not to make headlines around the internet, but rather to thank the university for his experience in South Bend.

While Zaire’s time at Notre Dame is drawing to a close, he will leave as a proud alum. So while he’ll play football next season at another university, Zaire wrote the following in Thursday’s issue:

Dear Notre Dame students and staff,

My life changed for the better the moment I stepped onto the University of Notre Dame’s beautiful campus. The one goal I had set in my mind to achieve was to become a better man, a Notre Dame man. After growing through many trials and triumphs, the thing I’ve learned most from my experience was that if you don’t believe in yourself first, then no one else will. I believed in becoming a better man and succeeding through any circumstance, and I can say that I’ve truly accomplished that. I often refer to the famous quote from the movie “Catch Me If You Can” that was well put by Frank Abagnale:

“Two little mice fell in a bucket of cream. The first mouse quickly gave up and drowned. The second mouse wouldn’t quit. He struggled so hard that eventually he churned that cream into butter and crawled out.”

I’ve put my heart, soul and passion into the University, the football program, the South Bend community and the Irish community worldwide. I have the unbelievable honor to represent this University to the fullest as a student and soon-to-be alumni. Thank you to the amazing students and staff that I’ve met through the years for helping me grow into the person I’ve always wanted to be. I love the Irish and will always be an Irish alum no matter where I go! I look forward to keeping in touch. Let’s change the world!

Go Irish!

Malik Zaire

Senior
Dec. 7

Zaire is expected to compete for a starting quarterback job next year as a graduate transfer. He’s reportedly taken a visit to Wisconsin and plans to visit North Carolina as well, just two of several programs on the radar as Zaire looks to step in and win a starting Power 5 job.