Skip to content

Spring Solutions: 2013 edition

Mar 11, 2013, 10:30 PM EDT

Joey Brooks

With the start of spring practice a week away, it’s time to toss aside the 2012 media guide and begin anew with 2013. It’s amazing to think about just how far this program has come in the last calendar year. With a new offensive coordinator, a jumbled quarterback battle, and more questions than answers following an 8-5 season, the Irish are light years away from where they were last time they rolled into the ides of March.

With Brian Kelly’s program out to prove that last season wasn’t a flash in the pan, it’s time for the Irish to begin the work that’ll help them put together back-to-back double-digit winning seasons, part of the road back to the elite of college football.

Let’s take a look at some of the interesting storylines we’ll be sure to track, before we run through a position-by-position breakdown.

***

Welcome to the party, Joey Brooks.

As it often happens during spring practice, a few wildcards tend to emerge. And in former Irish basketball player Joey Brooks, the Irish certainly have quite a large one.

The 6-foot-6, 225-pound Brooks, a reserve on the basketball team who redshirted this season with the hopes of saving a year of eligibility, swapped his hightops for cleats and is immersed in the transition from basketball to football. For Kelly and offensive coordinator Chuck Martin, it’s a low-risk move, especially with the Irish always looking for a physical mismatch. It’s not hard to see how Brooks (on paper at least) could provide that.

From Antonio Gates to Jimmy Graham, finding examples of basketball players making the successful transition to the gridiron isn’t difficult. But there’s a long way to go for Brooks, who struggled to find a spot in Mike Brey’s rotation. And while he’s got the size you want in an intriguing tight end / wide receiver prospect, getting it all to come together in 15 spring practices might be a tough order.

That said, the popular Brooks will get a nice long look this spring, and won’t need much time making friends, making fitting in a much easier as he works hard at the transition.

***

***

Is it finally time for Amir Carlisle to make his move?

If I was fooled by anyone last spring, it was Amir Carlisle, who I expected to compete immediately for playing time. But a broken ankle before spring practice lingered, and when nerve issues continued to hold Carlisle back, the injury turned into a lost year for the USC transfer, even while being granted immediate eligibility.

That season lost is the Irish’s gain this year, and Carlisle has an open shot at a running back job that’s wide open. With Theo Riddick and Cierre Wood both gone, Carlisle has the opportunity to fight George Atkinson, Cam McDaniel and Will Mahone for the inside track at tailback… before Greg Bryant and Tarean Folston hit campus this summer.

Running back isn’t the only place where Carlisle can make his mark, with the versatility to play both in the slot and in the backfield. But after a year where expectations didn’t come through, the depth chart — and an extra year of eligibility — could benefit both the running back and the offense in 2013.

***

Welcome back Austin Collinsworth and Lo Wood. Now go fight for a job.

It wasn’t too long ago that both Collinsworth and Wood looked like they had the inside track at major playing time. For Collinsworth, it was as a nickel back with tremendous versatility. For Wood, it was the starting field cornerback job. But neither made it to the season, with Collinsworth suffering an injury during the Blue-Gold game and Wood tearing his Achilles during fall camp.

Both veterans will be back and hopefully full throttle for spring practice, but will find themselves in a far different position on the depth chart. For Collinsworth, Zeke Motta’s departure, and Jamoris Slaughter being turned down for his sixth season of eligibility, give Collinsworth the chance to jump right back in the mix. But Wood will likely start behind KeiVarae Russell, who emerged as an impressive player who hopped right into the line-up as a freshman starter.

Eighteen months ago, the depth chart in the secondary could’ve been confused for the Hunger Games. Now there’s ample competition at each position, with reinforcements coming this summer. After a tough season lost to injury, both Collinsworth and Wood should come out flying.

 

Latest Posts
  1. Irish A-to-Z: Max Redfield

    Aug 3, 2015, 2:30 PM EDT

    Terrence Magee, Max Redfield Terrence Magee, Max Redfield

    Irish fans have been waiting to see Max Redfield emerge as the star safety Notre Dame has desperately needed since Harrison Smith went to the NFL. But entering his third season, Redfield is still a work in progress.

  2. Irish A-to-Z: Doug Randolph

    Aug 3, 2015, 1:00 PM EDT

    Doug Randolph

    Two seasons in and we have yet to see much from linebacker Doug Randolph. But after a shoulder injury slowed him at the beginning of his career and various injuries kept him from contributing more in 2014, perhaps a position change is what gets the rising junior back on track.

  3. Counting down the Irish: 25-21

    Aug 3, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT

    Quenton Nelson Twitter

    As we begin our rankings, we find a cross-section of players that represent just about every type of Brian Kelly recruit. There are blue-chippers. There are “RKGs.” And there are position switches and developmental projects.

  4. Irish A-to-Z: James Onwualu

    Aug 3, 2015, 1:06 AM EDT

    Purdue v Notre Dame Getty Images

    As a true freshman, James Onwualu found his way into the starting lineup, an unheralded freshman finding playing time by doing the little things right. As a sophomore, Onwualu made the rather unheard of transition from wideout to linebacker, and once again found himself starting football games.

  5. Counting down the Irish: Just missed the cut

    Aug 2, 2015, 8:05 PM EDT

    USC v Notre Dame Getty Images

    As we begin to reveal the top 25 players on Notre Dame’s roster, our raw numbers point to an intriguing amount of depth on this football team. As you consider the returning talent on this football team—only Ben Koyack, Everett Golson, Matt Hegarty and Cody Riggs depart from the Music City Bowl’s starting lineup—the depth chart and high end personnel is there, and that proof seems to be in our numbers.

  6. Irish A-to-Z: C.J. Prosise

    Aug 2, 2015, 1:58 PM EDT

    C. J. Prosise C. J. Prosise

    Spring hero? Tough to find a bigger one than C.J. Prosise. With numbers low in the backfield this spring, Notre Dame’s emerging slot receiver transitioned to running back—and immediately became an X factor in 2015.

  7. Irish A-to-Z: Romeo Okwara

    Aug 1, 2015, 10:00 AM EDT

    Michigan v Notre Dame Getty Images

    For most of Romeo Okwara’s college career, the defender’s young age was mentioned when discussing the intriguing athlete’s upside. With ideal length, more than adequate athleticism and a skill set that fit in both Bob Diaco and Brian VanGorder’s defense, it was always a wait-and-see proposition for the North Carolina native, who simply needed a few years in Paul Longo’s weight room to catch up to his age.

  8. Coming Soon: Counting Down the Irish, 2015 edition

    Jul 31, 2015, 4:39 PM EDT

    Jaylon Smith, Joe Schmidt Jaylon Smith, Joe Schmidt

    With the start of training camp right around the corner, it’s time for our annual tradition of ranking the Top 25 players on the Notre Dame roster.

  9. Irish A-to-Z: Tyler Newsome

    Jul 31, 2015, 12:00 PM EDT

    247Sports 247Sports

    With Kyle Brindza gone, sophomore Tyler Newsome takes over the punting duties. And outside of seeing a few not-really live kicks in the Blue-Gold game, what that means remains to be seen.

  10. Offseason Q&A: Stanford

    Jul 31, 2015, 11:48 AM EDT

    David Shaw

    We wrap up our offseason look at Notre Dame’s 2015 opponents with the Stanford Cardinal. The postseason could come down to a late-season showdown in Palo Alto with David Shaw’s team trying to rebound from a five-loss season.

  11. Irish A-to-Z: Quenton Nelson

    Jul 31, 2015, 10:00 AM EDT

    Quenton Nelson

    After a redshirt season, Quenton Nelson is ready to play. Jumping to the head of the line at a crowded (and talented) position, Nelson is taking his five-star pedigree and bringing it to the starting lineup.

  12. Irish A-to-Z: Sam Mustipher

    Jul 30, 2015, 4:30 PM EDT

    Property of Matt Cashore / Irish Illustrated Property of Matt Cashore / Irish Illustrated

    This spring, you’d have probably won some money if you had Sam Mustipher emerging as the No. 2 center. But with Matt Hegarty’s departure and some failed experiments before him, it was Mustipher who was backing up Nick Martin and snapping the ball to Everett Golson in a spring game played on Notre Dame’s practice field.

  13. Notre Dame ranked 11th in preseason Coaches Poll

    Jul 30, 2015, 1:47 PM EDT

    Malik Zaire Malik Zaire

    Notre Dame opens the season ranked No. 11 in the preseason USA Today Amway Coaches Poll. The Irish, who finished last season 8-5, return the majority of their starting lineup, providing some context for the bullish expectations. Only Gus Malzahn’s Auburn team is ranked higher among teams that finished with five losses in 2014.

  14. Irish A-to-Z: Nyles Morgan

    Jul 30, 2015, 12:45 PM EDT

    Notre Dame v Arizona State Getty Images

    Last year, we saw what a talented freshman linebacker in over his head looked like. His name was Nyles Morgan, and the blue-chip recruit personified the second-half defensive collapse that flushed the Irish season down the drain. Want the good part? Stick around, as Irish A-to-Z continues.

  15. Irish A-to-Z: John Montelus

    Jul 30, 2015, 10:00 AM EDT

    Twitter Twitter

    When Brian Kelly plucked offensive lineman John Montelus from his hometown of Everett, Massachusetts, the Irish looked to be adding another mauler to the interior of Harry Hiestand’s offensive line. And after two seasons of reshaping his body and learning the ropes, Montelus is in a competitive two-deep, still looking for a role in this offense.

  16. Irish A-to-Z: Peter Mokwuah

    Jul 29, 2015, 4:30 PM EDT

    Photo property of Rich Clark Photo property of Rich Clark

    It didn’t take long for Notre Dame’s coaching staff to know they wanted to offer Peter Mokwuah. After getting a glimpse of the big-bodied defensive tackle, Brian VanGorder and Brian Kelly went to Staten Island and left with a key piece to the depth chart.

  17. Notre Dame releases training camp schedule

    Jul 29, 2015, 2:11 PM EDT

    Brian Kelly Brian Kelly

    We are a little more than a week away from the start of the 2015 football season. Notre Dame released their training camp schedule on Wednesday, highlighting the key dates leading up to the season opener against Texas.

  18. Irish A-to-Z: Colin McGovern

    Jul 29, 2015, 2:00 PM EDT

    Twitter Twitter

    Entering his third year in the program, offensive lineman Colin McGovern hasn’t found his way into the lineup. That’s the product of a depth chart filled with other talented options, as well as McGovern dealing with injuries and position switches as he looks to find his niche.

  19. Irish A-to-Z: Mike McGlinchey

    Jul 29, 2015, 1:30 PM EDT

    Stanford v Notre Dame Getty Images

    Last preseason, Mike McGlinchey was the odd-man out along the offensive line, losing out on the opportunity to be the team’s starting right tackle. Entering 2015, he’s one of the key X factors that’ll determine whether or not Harry Hiestand’s offensive line is one of the best in the country.

  20. Irish A-to-Z: Jacob Matuska

    Jul 29, 2015, 11:45 AM EDT

    Jacob Matuska, Reggie Bonnafon Jacob Matuska, Reggie Bonnafon

    With Notre Dame’s defense falling apart, second-year player Jacob Matuska was thrown into the fire, earning playing time after the first (and most of the second) line of defense went down. Let’s check on the rising junior as Irish A-to-Z rolls on.