Notre Dame Football Practice

Spring practice video breakdown: Part two

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Obviously, today’s news about running back Amir Carlisle and defensive end Chase Hounshell suffering significant injuries was a tough reminder that spring practice also carries with it some risk. But the Irish are hardly alone. Michigan lost its best defensive playmaker, linebacker Jake Ryan to a torn ACL last week, putting his 2013 season in doubt.

But as it happens during the fall, a football team charges on. For Carlisle, the injury won’t likely limit him past the spring. For Hounshell, that future is more complicated. Still, “Next Man In” continues as the mantra.

Let’s take a look at the second practice video, with a far too fanatical look at the footage captured during the Irish’s first few practices.

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0:10 — Loving the mood music. Also enjoying head coach Brian Kelly talking about identity. Nice pep talk to get the guys ready to go. If you’re trying to read between the lines, you can see how BK and company are re-framing the journey.

0:38 — Fifth year senior Tyler Stockton (#92) breaks the squad down. If you’re looking for an interesting comment on the decision to bring players back for a final year, Kelly provided it on Saturday.

“Unless there’s reasons where you’ve got your degree and you don’t see yourself really being part of the success on the field, I’d want every fifth-year guy back,” Kelly said. “They know what I want from them, they can help in so many other areas. Even if they’re not playing a significant role.

“My feeling is that if I could get every one of those fifth-years back every single year, they have something to add to the overall team. That was the case again this year.”

For the record, only seldom used tight end Jake Golic didn’t return for a fifth season.

0:52 — That’s Everett Golson flipping the ball to running back Cam McDaniel (#33) on a swing pass. That might be a nice role for McDaniel this season, morphing into a third down, pass catching type threat.

0:55 — Tommy Rees and Golson work through some pocket presence drills as Malik Zaire looks on. When you consider Gunner Kiel’s decision to leave, you’ve got to wonder which of these two quarterbacks played into the decision more. Rees, who likely would’ve held onto the No. 2 job this fall, or Golson, who looks like a four year starter.

1:00 — Nice job by cornerback Lo Wood (#23) getting a good jam on DaVaris Daniels (#10) and then breaking up the slant. Getting Wood back healthy and athletic can only help this secondary.

1:03 — Talk about another nice comeback story, that’s Alex Welch (#82) looking good running down the seam. If he’s able to contribute next season, having three big bodies at the position will really help the Irish offense.

1:05 — That’s KeiVarae Russell (#6) and Justin Ferguson (#15) battling for a fade route, as Chuck Martin looks on.

1:10 — One of our first looks at freshman Corey Robinson (#88) beating walk-on cornerback Joe Romano (#35) on a deep pattern. The long-striding youngster did a nice job getting separation. (For those thinking Robinson ends up as a tight end, he’s got a lot of eating to do.)

1:15 — Rising sophomore Jarron Jones (#94) certainly looks the part. That’s a big dude.

1:23 — Some youth on the offensive line getting work in. From left: Mark Harrell (#75), Conor Hanratty (#65) and Steve Elmer (#79).

1:27 — Golson throws a bullet that Daniel Smith (#87) snags.

1:33 — Look, a Davonte Neal (#19) sighting! Neal makes a catch from Tommy Rees and turns up field. Perhaps an even better sighting is secondary coach Bobby Elliott, who is back on the field after a kidney transplant.

1:36 — Golson works a scramble drill, peels out and throws a bullet to new tight end Joey Brooks (#81).

1:42 — Hit pause and you see all four Irish quarterbacks. Zaire, Golson, Andrew Hendrix and Rees.

1:45 — Harrell (#75) goes one-on-one with Stockton.

1:51 — It looks like Justin Utupo (#53) gets the better of freshman Elmer (#79) with the edge rush.

1:54 — That’s big Lou Nix (#1) getting by Hanratty. (Don’t feel too bad, Conor. You won’t be alone this year.)

1:58 — Speaking of Utupo, he gets by starting tackle Christian Lombard (#74) with a nice pass rush move.

2:05 — That’s Chris Brown (#2) beating Josh Atkinson (#24) on the reception.

2:08 — That’s Utupo getting around Zack Martin (#70) as well.  I think it’s time to a jump to a conclusion: Utupo had a nice practice.

2:14 — Chris Watt (#66) does a nice job handling Jarron Jones.

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.

 

 

Jaylon Smith goes to Dallas with 34th pick

PITTSBURGH, PA - NOVEMBER 07:  Jaylon Smith #9 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish celebrates by wearing the hat of team mascot, Lucky The Leprechaun, following their 42-30 win against the Pittsburgh Panthers at Heinz Field on November 7, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
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Jaylon Smith’s nightmare is over.

After watching his football life thrown into chaos with a career-altering knee injury, Smith came off the board after just two picks in the second round, selected by the Dallas Cowboys with the 34th pick. His selection ended the most challenging months of Smith’s young life, and come after cashing in a significant tax-free, loss-of-value insurance policy that’ll end up being just shy of a million dollars.

No, it’s not top-five money like Smith could’ve expected if he didn’t get hurt. But Smith isn’t expected to play in 2016.

And while there was a pre-draft fascination that focused on the doom and gloom more than the time-consuming recovery, it’s worth pointing out that Dallas’ medical evaluation comes from the source—literally. After all, it was the Cowboys team doctor, Dr. Dan Cooper, who performed the surgery to repair Smith’s knee.

Smith joins Ezekiel Elliott with the Cowboys, arguably the two best position players in the draft. While he might not be available in 2016, Smith will be under the supervision of the Cowboys’ medical staff, paid a seven-figure salary to get healthy with the hopes that he’ll be back to his All-American self sooner than later, especially as the nerve in his knee returns to full functionality.

Will Fuller brings his game-changing skills to the Texans offense

PITTSBURGH, PA - NOVEMBER 07: Will Fuller #7 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish catches a pass before running into the endzone for a touchdown in the second quarter in front of Avonte Maddox #14 of the Pittsburgh Panthers during the game at Heinz Field on November 7, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
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In all the weeks and months leading up to the NFL Draft, one key tidbit linking Will Fuller to the Houston Texans never seemed to come up. The relationship between Brian Kelly and Bill O’Brien.

The two coaches share a high school alma mater, a friendship that made the due diligence on Notre Dame’s prolific playmaker easy. And it was clear that after all their research, Houston was aggressive in their pursuit of Fuller, trading up to make Notre Dame’s All-American the second receiver off the board, triggered a run at the position.

“He was a guy that we felt strongly about,” Texans general manager Rick Smith told the team’s official website. “We didn’t want to take a chance on not getting him. We were aggressive. We went and made the move.”

That move made Fuller’s decision to leave Notre Dame after three seasons a good one. While it’ll require the Irish to rebuild at a position where Fuller served as one of college football’s best home run hitters, it gives Houston a vertical threat that can extend the top of a defense for a Texans offense that was serious about finding some solutions for a team already in the playoff mix.

Yes, Fuller has work to do. Completing the easy catch is one big area. But for all the pre-draft talk about his limitations, Brian Kelly took on some of the criticism head-on when talking with the Texans’ media reporter.

“Some people have compared him to Teddy Ginn, that’s not fair. He can catch the ball vertically like nobody I’ve coached in 25 years,” Kelly said (a sentiment some hack also laid out). Teddy Ginn is a very good player, but this is a different kind of player. If you throw the ball deep, he’s going to catch the football.”

Fuller is never going to be the biggest receiver on the field. But while most of the banter on his game focused on the negative or his deep ball skills, expect Fuller to find a role not just running deep but unleashed in the screen game as well. After the Texans spent huge on quarterback Brock Osweiler and have invested in fellow Philadelphia native and 2015 third-round pick Jaelen Strong, Fuller wasn’t selected for the future but rather expected to be a day-one piece of the puzzle.

“This will change the speed on offense immediately,” Kelly said. “It was not ‘Hey, let’s wait a couple of years’. It was ‘Let’s go get this right now’ and I think Will will do that for them.”