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Physical development key to Irish offseason

Mar 20, 2013, 8:10 AM EDT

Brian Kelly BCS

It may be the ultimate coaching rhetoric, but you can’t help but think Brian Kelly was genuine in his praise for the offseason work done by his roster. As Kelly kicked off his press conference Tuesday, he spent more time ticking off weight training work than just about anything else — the product of two good months of work by his troops after losing in the national championship game.

“Some of the things that are exciting for me would be just some of the weight gains that we’ve had, strength gains at really key positions,” Kelly said. “Just to highlight a couple of them, and this does not mean they’ll be first-team All‑Americans, this just means that we have addressed some of the areas that we think were very, very important.”

As it often happens during the spring, we tend to over-amplify the meaning of gains in the weight room. In many ways it’s college football’s “best shape of my life,” the spring training baseball meme that has that wonderful feeling of hope springing eternal.

That said, if we aren’t able to take wonderful leaps of faith now, when can we? And it’s difficult not to see some type of trend when you see the impressive gains from such a large sector of the roster, especially when you back it up with the snippets Kelly provided.

I’m certainly not the only person breaking down the weight gains/losses on the roster, but here are a few shifts that caught my eye.

Justin Utupo — 281 pounds (+23) Added bulk gives Utupo the opportunity to get in the mix as an undersized defensive lineman.
Louis Nix — 347 pounds (+21) While it looks like a big gain, I’ve got a feeling that Nix has been playing at this weight for quite some time.
Stephon Tuitt — 322 (+19) That’s a might scary man. Playing at 322 will allow Tuitt to slide inside when needed as well.
Romeo Okwara — 250 (+19) Your leading candidate for “Scariest 17-year-old linebacker on the planet.”
Chris Brown — 191 (+19) That’s quite a jump for Brown, who looked almost frail early last season. Adding some weight to his frame will help turn Brown into a more versatile weapon.
Mark Harrell — 305 (+18) Harrell’s gain showcases one of the true benefits of offensive line depth. Giving freshman the chance to redshirt allows leaps like this.
Tony Springmann — 284 (-16) It appears that Springmann has shed some baby weight. At 284, that’s still plenty big for the almost 6-foot-6 lineman.
Elijah Shumate — 213 (+15) You get the idea that Shumate has quickly become one of the physical freaks on the roster. Playing at 213 likely solidifies his position as a safety.
Ronnie Stanley — 304 (+14) A nice job in the offseason, especially considering Stanley’s elbow surgery. You’ve got to wonder if Stanley has the ability to win the right tackle job.
Christian Lombard — 322 (+13) Consider this needed weight for Lombard, who still is on the smaller side for a right tackle. (But may be a good fit for right guard.)
CJ Prosise — 220 (+12) At just over 6-foot, that’s plenty of size for a guy moonlighting at wideout.
George Atkinson — 217 (+7) With the size of a power back and the speed of a world-class sprinter, Atkinson seems to be putting the work in to be an elite running back.

It’s also worth noting the changes that the early-enrollee freshmen made. Malik Zaire gained 12 pounds, Corey Robinson is up seven to 197, James Onwualu looks to already be physically imposing at 215 pounds (up seven), and Mike Heuerman is reportedly up almost 15 pounds already (though he’s still listed at 218).

With the NFL Combine still fresh in many of our brains, it’s also worth mentioning some bench press numbers Kelly rattled off. Chase Hounshell, back from surgery, looks to be a workout warrior, with 21 reps of 225, while weighing in at 271 pounds. Ben Councell knocked out a reported 19 reps, and he now weighs 248. Jarrett Grace saw his bench press jump from nine reps to 22, a pretty staggering jump for the guy that might replace Manti Te’o in the middle. And add Atkinson to this list as well, repping 19 times during testing after only five before.

Again, gains like this aren’t necessarily worth shouting about. But when you consider last season’s success, it bears mentioning that Kelly credited much of the work done in January and February as the building blocks for the upcoming season.

As Kelly and the program move into their fourth season — something the head coach hasn’t done in almost 20 years — the maturation of the program is something that has many feeling as if the plan is moving forward according to plan.

“When you have the protocols and the process in place on a day‑to‑day basis, the expectations have already been set, it allows you to really work on the development of your football team,” Kelly explained.

“You’ve got guys that are really building themselves, developing physically.  You have your entire room knowing what it looks like, how to get there.  They’ve already done it in the regular season.  All those things are in place now as we move into spring ball.”



  1. hyde - Mar 20, 2013 at 9:34 AM

    This is all well and good, but I would like to know how are they doing in the speed department?

    • bernhtp - Mar 20, 2013 at 9:51 AM

      You recruit speed; you develop size. Speed is 99% baked in on NSD.

    • stedward - Mar 20, 2013 at 9:54 AM

      They typically do a mini combine after spring football so they don’t risk people missing spring practice because they want a 40 time.

    • martyks55 - Mar 20, 2013 at 4:08 PM

      They won’t have the players trying to set faster times in the 40 until after the Spring season so that they do not lose players for the practices. It makes sense, no? They will measure that at the end of the spring, but they do work on it and yes, you can increase speed! The idea that you can’t is old hat now. Developing fast twitch is possible.

  2. irish13pa - Mar 20, 2013 at 9:59 AM

    I say to heck with all this working out stuff, lets get them on the deer antler juice… worked for bama….

  3. irish13pa - Mar 20, 2013 at 10:01 AM

    Speed is like being pretty. You either have it or you dont. Ya cant fix ugly.

    • don74 - Mar 20, 2013 at 10:28 AM

      Don’t say that around the plastic surgery clinics in Scottsdale.

      • dickasman - Mar 20, 2013 at 11:35 AM

        Don I love Scottsdale bimbos they re so dirty in bed! You can talk them into pretty much anything. We need these bimbos to remind us how special semi normal ladies are.

    • irish13pa - Mar 20, 2013 at 11:19 AM

      who is the clown that gave a thumbs down for this one?? I take it you do not like what you see in the mirror. hahahaha

    • dickasman - Mar 20, 2013 at 11:29 AM

      Pa13 don’t worry about thimbdowns. There’s always a clown giving thumbs down when you’re even remotely sarcastic. Can’t please’em all. Just worry about pleasing your lady and yourself because if you don’t, they’ll fly to Scottsdale get plastic surgery n bang anybody that offers them a drink.

  4. glorygreyhound - Mar 20, 2013 at 10:04 AM

    These numbers really are meaningless to me. With 40 speeds at the NFL combine high and exaggerated height and weight numbers for recruits, why should we get excited about these numbers. Besides, without the daily grind of the season, shouldn’t these guys put on weight when all they do is eat and lift?

  5. dudeacow - Mar 20, 2013 at 10:16 AM

    This stuff is great. How are you supposed to play BK’s knockout type football when you can’t beat the opponent in an arm wrestle? I’m especially impressed with GA3. Up 7 pounds and 14 reps, he certainly looks like he wants to be the starting back.

    • dickasman - Mar 20, 2013 at 12:23 PM

      I still say GA3 looks like a safety to me, Bobby Taylor perhaps? Prolly only in my wet dreams…

  6. ajw21 - Mar 20, 2013 at 10:17 AM

    Size doesn’t translate into wins but it shows that the strength & conditioning program is much better then what it was. Its part of the process. I do hope that Atkinson & Brown still have the same speed they had previously. I wonder if gaining 10+ pounds will cause them to lose that elite speed that they both have.

  7. dickasman - Mar 20, 2013 at 11:30 AM

    Keith, who looks the best with their shirt off?

  8. dickasman - Mar 20, 2013 at 11:40 AM

    Speaking of lifting, guys I hurt my neck and shoulders the other day. Maybe I sprained my neck/shoulder lifting heavy. I can’t move my head to right. What do you guys do when you’re sore and in sharp painfrom lifting heavy? Gawd, I’m gettin focking old n it blows. Does food stamps cover depends?

    • bernhtp - Mar 20, 2013 at 7:07 PM

      Dick: Naproxin, heat/ice and some massage. I’ve cut down on my my max weights due to injury risk.

      My knee sucks and I’m seeing an orthoped after next week skiing. The only thing worse than getting old is the alternative.

      • nudeman - Mar 20, 2013 at 9:03 PM

        Yeah, but … None of us are gettin’ outta’ here alive

      • irishpuma - Mar 21, 2013 at 1:01 AM

        And we r Nd fans so that shortens the life span a lot.
        Dick go to a chiropractor for your neck after u stop by the gyno for your lady parts

      • dickasman - Mar 21, 2013 at 11:29 AM

        Hahahahahahahaha lolololol. You’re all right but gettin old does effing SUCK a big one. I think I’m just gonna give up, eat a couple onion butter sammich and just be a fatfock. Looking good/fit thingy is too dam much work now.

  9. yaketyyacc - Mar 20, 2013 at 11:58 AM

    SO FAR SO GOOD. half the battle is won. one of the posters said you cannot improve on speed. perhaps that MAY be, but, nothing ventured nothing gained. Notre Dame must improve in speed. even a fraction of a second is progress. not only physical speed, more, mental speed. mental speed allows a player to be in a better position and not have to race across the field to make a play, a quarterback to be able to view all of his receivers and accomplish this on a one and a half count. can’t be done you say, maybe, maybe, still trying will make you faster then a two and a half count. We set a high bar with 12-1. there is only one way to go: higher, and that is where we have to go.
    Get to work young men of Notre Dame.

  10. ctfivula - Mar 20, 2013 at 2:27 PM

    What about Davonte? Not really any mention of him putting in any hard work this off season. I wonder if he just doesn’t get it yet. I would really like to see this kid live up to the hype. He was rated the 8th best recruit overall last year.

    • kiopta1 - Mar 20, 2013 at 5:06 PM

      He was training with his dad and a few other players in AZ I think.

    • ctfivula - Mar 25, 2013 at 3:31 PM

      I usually don’t ask but why would this bring on so many thumbs down? It was a question about a big time recruit that we didn’t see much from in his first year and no mention of at the begining of spring ball. You guys are tough man. Does everyone here dislike him? I want to see him play and play well I guess everyone here doesn’t.

  11. goirishgo - Mar 20, 2013 at 2:28 PM

    Watch out for Shumate. That young man could be a real beast.

  12. fnc111 - Mar 20, 2013 at 3:19 PM

    Strategy: choke to a terrible Michigan team again because your wife graduated from there then get mauled by Stanford. Go 10-2 and go to a regular bowl or bcs bowl game that Kelly won’t embarrass the university in. This delusional talk about wanting another shot at the title game is more arrogant than laughable. No one will ever touch the sec. They are in a different league. Just go 9-3 and shut up CBK.

    • yogihilt - Mar 20, 2013 at 3:56 PM

      fnc111.. I actually see your tag now and do not even read your posts, along with one other. And I won’t even give you a ‘thumbs down’. I hope all normal people follow my lead. I’ll write this just once, but I thought I should let you know how we all feel.

      • 1historian - Mar 20, 2013 at 4:14 PM

        well said. IGNORE HIM

    • 4horsemenrideagain - Mar 20, 2013 at 8:11 PM

      Someone didn’t get held enough as a child…

  13. dutch31 - Mar 20, 2013 at 8:00 PM

    Most of those weight gains are good. Nix looked out of shape at NC game. Prob should play at 335lbs. Shumate going to play safety. That’s his position. He is way better than Motta. Okwara just growing. Won’t affect his speed. Seems heavy for Tuitt. Football is great stuff!!!

    Go Irish!!

  14. irish13pa - Mar 20, 2013 at 8:05 PM

    SEC has been great the last decade. Hell, I even watch whatever game is on CBS when ND isnt playing. But just remember what Bama was the 25++ years between Bear Bryant and Nick Saban. Nothing… nothing at all. Soon enough guys like gnc111 will be wondering which band wagon to jump on next. Better get hooked to that Irish wagon soon fella, there are coming quick.

  15. irish13pa - Mar 20, 2013 at 8:06 PM

    SEC has been great the last decade. Hell, I even watch whatever game is on CBS when ND isnt playing. But just remember what Bama was the 25++ years between Bear Bryant and Nick Saban. Nothing… nothing at all. Soon enough guys like gnc111 will be wondering which band wagon to jump on next. Better get hooked to that Irish wagon soon fella, they are coming quick.

  16. irish13pa - Mar 20, 2013 at 8:07 PM

    yea yea yea, i studdered, hahahah

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