Cierre Wood Pitt

Back to football: Practice report video


Can we purge yesterday’s Shamrock Series uniforms and get back to football? Let’s hope so. Until early October, let’s just not speak of that helmet, which can go hide in the corner of the internet with the FreakBass video for all I care.

But on to football!

Yesterday, we got our first (and only) look at the assistant coaches, with local media getting their chance to catch up with the reassembled coaching staff, and a selection of players.

But before that, the Irish practiced inside the Loftus Sports Center. As usual, Jack Nolan and the team were there keeping eyes on everything for us.

Here’s the video. As usual, you’ll get my observations below:



0:15 — The honorable Jack Nolan mentions it’s the 15th practice of fall. By my very amateur calculations, expect the “installation” period of camp to be over. As head coach Brian Kelly mentioned, the Irish begin preparing for Navy on Monday. (As you’ll see later in the video, they might have started already…)

0:38 — Come on Jake Golic (88). You can’t dance along? And what’s up with that big cast on your right hand?

1:08 –Time to wake up, Kapron Lewis-Moore. Time for practice…

1:12 — Enjoy this time of year, Irish fans. Ben Turk (35) still hasn’t missed a punt yet. (Snark over.) Kelly mentioned yesterday that Turk has had a great camp.

1:14 — Set to the soundtrack of a Wes Anderson movie, we see Theo Riddick (6) working on the punt return drills we’ve heard mentioned. The senior will get another shot at returning punts this year, after short-circuiting last season early with a few muffed kicks.

1:26 — Great flow, Bob Diaco.

1:29 — Nice cut and run by Riddick, bursting through a hole.

1:32 — Our first Tommy Rees sighting of the year. The quarterback, exiled for game one, and basically held out of drills for much of camp, hands the ball of to Cierre Wood (20).

1:33 — Rapid fire edits! Tyler Eifert (80) beating Josh Atkinson (43) on the underthrown go-route. TJ Jones (7) beating Lo Wood (23) on the slant. Chris Brown (2) having a pass knocked from his hands by Bennett Jackson (2). Eifert beating Jalen Brown (21). That was so easy it should be illegal.

1:40 — Pass rusher Ishaq Williams (11) would’ve had Everett Golson (5) dead to rights before holding up. Getting some productivity in that area from Williams would be huge.

1:42Andrew Hendrix (12) hits Eifert for a nice gain.

1:47 — That’s Davonte Neal (19) catching the quick out.

1:49Manti Te’o sniffs out another screen pass, laying off George Atkinson (4), instead of putting him into orbit.

1:53 — If the Irish can get more of this out of Davaris Daniels (10), there could be some promise in the passing game this year. That’s just plain and simple beating Jackson one-on-one for a big play.

2:02 — Rapid Fire! Robby Toma (9) trying to put a juke on Ishaq, Golson properly executing the option (?!?) against Romeo Okwara (45), and Kapron Lewis-Moore (89) using Matt Hegarty as a turnstyle on his way to a sack of Hendrix.

2:15 — Is it possible for a wide receiver to be handsy? Well, John Goodman (81) definitely fits the bill, winning the war of hand-checking with Atkinson before making an easy catch on an underthrown ball.

2:17Daniel Smith (87) getting a nice release off the line of scrimmage and beating KeiVarae Russell (6) easily on the slant.

2:30 — Team Up-Downs. One thing I’ll never miss from my football career. And also a good look at part of the No. 1 unit: Shembo, KLM, Kona Schwenke, Stephon Tuitt, Te’o and Ben Councell (30).

2:44Cierre Wood (20) also getting some reps in the return game. Always a showman that Cierre.




Five Irish players sign UFA contracts

Matthias Farley

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

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

North Carolina v Notre Dame

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)

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.