John Goodman

A closer look at the depth chart: Offense

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With injuries, suspensions, and uncertainty in a few position battles, Brian Kelly released the season’s first official depth chart with a few minor surprises. We already knew quarterback Everett Golson locked up the starting quarterback job, but let’s run through the position groupings and see who broke camp in the starting lineup.

Here’s our first look, breaking down the Irish’s starters and back-ups for offense.

QUARTERBACK

Everett Golson, Soph.
Andrew Hendrix, Jr.
Gunner Kiel, Fr.

Thoughts: It’ll be interesting to see where Tommy Rees inserts himself after he’s eligible to get back on the field. While the Irish staff has belief that Golson has the ability to lead this offense and run it in the fashion Brian Kelly and Chuck Martin hope, they also know Rees is capable — and likely ready — to take a step forward.

With the staff ready for anything, they’ll likely hope Golson does enough good to hold onto the job through the season’s first two weeks. More importantly, he’s got to get the Irish two victories.

RUNNING BACK

Theo Riddick, Sr.
George Atkinson, Soph.
Will Mahone, Fr.

Thoughts: Cierre Wood finds himself missing from this depth chart thanks to his violation of team rules. That opens the door slightly for Mahone, who I’m guessing the Irish coaching staff absolutely don’t want to see on the field this year.

If you’re looking to impress your friends and are feeling gutsy, predict a big game for Atkinson. After an impressive spring culminated by a nice performance in the Blue-Gold game, I expect Atkinson to get a ton of touches against the Midshipmen, and turn a few into really big plays.

WIDE RECEIVER

John Goodman, Sr.
Daniel Smith, Jr.
Justin Ferguson, Fr.

TJ Jones, Jr.
Davaris Daniels, Soph.
Chris Brown, Fr.

Robby Toma, Sr.
Davonte Neal, Fr.
Amir Carlisle, Soph.

Thoughts: This grouping is a head-scratcher. After hearing about the promise of youngsters like Daniels, Brown, and Neal, none of them are in the starting lineup. Whether that’s a nod to Kelly showing veteran loyalty or the talented trio not being ready, we’ll likely see in Dublin on Saturday.

There are rumors that John Goodman isn’t 100 percent going into Saturday’s game, which will likely shake up the depth chart outside. It’s also interesting to note that Amir Carlisle, who is still working his way back from a broken ankle, is listed at the slot receiver position.

Chris Brown, the freshman receiver who will likely signify the Irish’s best deep threat is buried beneath TJ Jones and Daniels. I still expect him to get a dozen offensive snaps this weekend. Also — even if Carlisle is injured, I expect him to see the field before Will Mahone, unless the Irish think they can save a year of his eligibility.

TIGHT END

Tyler Eifert, Sr.
Ben Koyack, Soph.
Troy Niklas, Soph.
Jake Golic, Sr.

Thoughts: It’s the worst kept secret that Eifert is the team’s No. 1 tight end. He’s also the team’s No. 1 wide receiver, making the depth chart worth little more than the paper you’ll print it on. With Alex Welch out, the role of a traditional tight end will be given to Koyack and Niklas, with both sophomores having worlds of potential.

OFFENSIVE LINE

Left Tackle:

Zack Martin, Sr.
Ronnie Stanley, Fr.

Left Guard:

Chris Watt, Sr.
Connor Hanratty, Soph.

Center:

Braxston Cave, Sr.
Mike Golic, Sr.
Matt Hegarty, Soph.

Right Guard:

Mike Golic, Sr.
Connor Hanratty, Soph.

Right Tackle:

Christian Lombard, Jr.
Nick Martin, Soph.

Thoughts: There’s a lot to process here, but the easy takeaway is that the Irish don’t have a ton of depth here. There might not be a bigger plummet on the two-deep than the drop-off between senior Zack Martin and freshman Ronnie Stanley. Likewise, it’s interesting to see sophomore Connor Hanratty make his move into the two deep, providing depth at both guard positions, but expect fellow sophomore Nick Martin to be the first man off the bench to see the field if someone goes down. Starting right guard Mike Golic will be the first to slide to center if anything happens to Braxston Cave, while the injury to Tate Nichols kept the Irish really shy on options for a unit that needs a healthy season.

 

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

North Carolina v Notre Dame
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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.