Spring Practice

Camp practice reports: Jump to conclusions edition

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Football is finally here. That means we get to overanalyze video, jump to conclusions, and see just how good a team can be in shorts and helmets, one of my favorite (honest, I love it) exercises of the year.

Thankfully our friends at UND.com haven’t let us down, coming up with some spiffy new features in their videos including some heart-pumping score and a snazzy new intro to their videos.

Since most of you don’t have the time to break these videos down frame-by-frame, I thought I’d do it for you. Thoughts coming beneath the video.

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0:12 — Ominous new tunes for the FIDM video crew. It’s clear even the video team is ready to forget last season, turn the page, and welcome the challenge of 2012.

0:17 — I’ve got a feeling we’ll be seeing this photo in montages across the internets. From left to right we’ve got senior guard Chris Watt (66), Zack Martin (70), Braxston Cave (52), and Mike Golic (57).

0:23 — Anyone worried that Louis Nix didn’t come to camp in shape should worry not. Big Lou looks in terrific shape (down right svelte) as he heads to practice.

0:34 — That’s freshman safety C.J. Prosise returning kicks in a special teams segment. He might be next to George Atkinson in returns, giving the Irish two burners back there.

1:18 — The video crew is trying to keep me quick, sandwiching quick cuts of Robby Toma making a nice catch and Theo Riddick running around the outside. These two seniors are going to be huge X factors this season if the Irish offense wants to get on track.

1:24 — Our first look at vaunted freshman Davonte Neal (#19). He may be slight — he’s listed at 5-foot-9, 171-pounds — but the speedster is already receiving good reviews and passes any eyeball test you can make in four seconds of video.

1:28Gunner Kiel (1) to All-American Tyler Eifert. Let’s just say if that happens this season, a whole lot has gone sideways.

1:34 — Our first look at freshman KeiVarae Russell (6) running as a cornerback with junior wide receiver TJ Jones (7). Russell is a good enough athlete to make the transition and it wouldn’t surprise me if he finds his way onto the field early.

1:40Everett Golson took the first snaps with the No. 1 offense on Saturday. Here he dumps a screen pass to Jones over the middle. If the Irish offense is going to make some evolutionary steps forward, they’ll need to have a better screen game… among other things.

1:52 — That’s Davonte Neal again, running a nice pattern and coming down with the ball after veteran safety Danny McCarthy closes in on him.

2:00 — Blink and you might miss it, but that’s freshman receiver Chris Brown (2) running a deep route and coming down with the ball.

2:08 — That’s fellow freshman Justin Ferguson (15) making a catch of his own. Interesting to note that both Brown and Ferguson check in at 6-foot-2, with Ferguson having almost 25 pounds on Brown checking in at 196 pounds (Brown is 172).

2:20 — That’s impressive work by Russell (6) in coverage, looking pretty smooth as he looks back for the ball and goes up against Ferguson. It’ll be fun to see how quickly this freshman class, a group that had many focusing on the guys that didn’t come, makes its mark on the field.

2:25 — Hey there, Davaris Daniels (10). That’s a mighty fine catch.

2:30 — Our first look at freshman running back Will Mahone (32). There’s a little bit of juice in those moves for a guy that was billed to be a power back coming into school.

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0:08 — You can tell Jack Nolan is fired up. I half-expected him to drop a big long “YEEESSSSSS!” at the end of the intro.

0:27 — That’s defensive coordinator Bob Diaco donning his floppy hat again as he just beams intensity in his all-gear attire.

0:34 — New wide receivers coach Mike Denbrock teaching his wide receivers corps how to escape a jam from a defensive back.

1:05 — New offensive line coach Harry Hiestand giving Christian Lombard (74) some one-on-one blocking instructions.  Mike Golic (57) and Braxston Cave (52) get the next reps.

1:52 — Defensive line coach Mike Elston giving the ABCs of defensive line play. Interesting stuff with the “ear hole” block, explaining to all of us loyal viewers that if an offensive lineman isn’t looking at you and heading past, you’re probably going to be the target of someone else coming down the line.

2:24 — As Tony Alford runs the backs through drills, it’s good to see Cameron Roberson (31) working his way through drills. Roberson is still recovering from a serious knee injury that had many worried he wouldn’t play football again.

2:34Quarterback linebackers coach Bob Diaco works coverage drills with his troops. At 6-foot-4, 239-pounds, Romeo Okwara is a big dude. Especially considering he should still be in high school.

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.