First look at contact: Jumping to conclusions edition

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After four practices getting acclimated to helmets, the Irish were in full pads today, giving freshman their first real feel of college football. Thanks to the always excellent practice reports courtesy of UND.com, we’re able to get a sneak peak at the first day of work, which allows all of us to jump to some very early conclusions.

Here’s a look at today’s practice report, courtesy of our friends over at UND.com. Because it’s my job to have no life and break down the rodeo drill for everyone, here’s a play-by-play of what you’ll see, helping to isolate some of the match-ups and battles that fly by in just under four minutes.

 

 

The first one on one we see (around the :40 second mark) is sophomore tight end Alex Welch welcoming freshman linebacker Ben Councell to to college football, and two mammoth youngsters battling with 6-8, 320-pound Tate Nichols taking on 6-6, 295-pound freshman Stephon Tuitt.

After that, we watch Michael Floyd snatch balls from the jugs machine, Ishaq Williams sprint down in kickoff coverage, and Davaris Daniels work on his hands as well. In snaps from scrimmage, Tate Nichols works at left tackle, where he rides Kona Schwenke outside the pocket. The very next snap, Brad Carrico looks pretty solid battling against veteran Brandon Newman. And for those wondering how Louis Nix would look, that’s him putting Mike Golic on rollerskates. (Golic definitely shouldn’t feel embarrassed, Nix was absolutely dominant in the one-on-one matchups he had, which we’ll get to now.)

For those looking for some rough-and-tumble power football, Let’s go to a frame-by-frame breakdown of the rodeo drill (starting at 1:42), where we’ll reach grand conclusions after watching less than a minute of drills.

1. Braxston Cave vs. Louis Nix. Winner: Nix, who stood up Cave and stuffed freshman Cam McDaniel.
2. Trevor Robinson vs. Carlo Calabrese. Winner: Robinson, who controlled Carlo and pushed him inside while George Atkinson slid by.
3. Ben Koyack vs. Unknown (Zeke Motta?) Winner: Koyack, who planted a defender unknown (I’m guessing Motta after a Zapruder like breakdown), getting a big rise out of his coaches.
4. Brad Carrico vs. Anthony McDonald. Winner: Slight edge to Carrico, who looks pretty fluid at offensive line.
5. Jordan Prestwood vs. Tyler Stockton. Winner: Stockton, who does a nice job getting physical with the freshman.
6. Prestwood vs. Aaron Lynch. Winner: Lynch, who looks every bit the part of a freshman All-American.
7. Prestwood vs. Stephon Tuitt. Winner: Slight edge to Tuitt, as it’s tough to say Prestwood lost that collision.
8. Alex Welch vs. Unknown (Anthony Rabasa?) Winner: Draw. Nice work by both guys, whoever our secret defender is.
9. Welch vs. Steve Filer. Winner: Filer, who taunts Irish fans by reminding people just how physically gifted he is.
10. Nick Martin vs. Joe Schmidt. Winner: Schmidt, who does his best Mike Anello impression, ignoring his physical limitations by blowing up a block making a nice play on Martin.
11. Christian Lombard vs. Lynch. Winner: Lynch, who once again blows up an offensive tackle at the point of contact.
12. Lombard vs. Chase Hounshell. Winner: Lombard, but credit to Hounshell for holding his ground and battling.
13. Taylor Dever vs. Kapron Lewis-Moore. Winner: Dever, who did a nice job engaging KLM, in a rare battle of ones-versus-ones.
14. Mike Golic vs. Louis Nix. Winner: Nix. He’s going to be very tough to move.
15. N. Martin vs. Jarrett Grace. Winner: Draw. A nice collision between two talented freshmen.

While I’d appreciate everybody else sharing their gut reactions below, the two guys that really stood out were Louis Nix and Aaron Lynch. They looked dominating, regardless of who they were facing.

 

Five Irish players sign UFA contracts

Matthias Farley
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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.

 

Robertson picks Cal over Notre Dame, UGA

Demetris Robertson
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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.

Sheldon Day drafted in 4th round by Jaguars

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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.

Smith, Martin, Russell and Prosise all drafted Friday night

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - SEPTEMBER 13: William Fuller #7 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and Nick Martin #72 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish celebrate a touchdown during the game against the Purdue Boilermakers at Lucas Oil Stadium on September 13, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
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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.