Cam McDaniel

Spring practice video breakdown: Part six


On Saturday, Notre Dame had their first and only open practice of the spring. (Until the Blue-Gold game, that is.) With Loftus packed to the walls with a thousand high school coaches a a large group of local media getting their looks at an Irish squad three-quarters of the way through spring ball, there was plenty to see.

Let’s get into our breakdown of’s official look at practice, which features one impressive catch by freshman Corey Robinson and a few other revealing snippets that give you an idea of how the 2013 squad is shaping up.



0:09 — Kicker/punter Kyle Brindza was given the task of breaking down the squad. Brindza has a lot on his shoulders next season, with the place-kicking and punting jobs both his to lose.

Irish Illustrated’s Tim Prister reported that it was a rough day for the specialists, with Brindza only making two of five field goal attempts, which fifth-year senior Nick Tausch made just one of five. (Worth mentioning: The sky isn’t falling. Kicking in Loftus is far from the real thing.)

0:36 — It sounds like Everett Golson is mic’d up again. That’s a nice reminder that the NBC Sports Channel is airing another one-hour special on the Irish, in the lead up to the Blue-Gold game next Saturday.

0:39 — A little drill work to get us going. Sheldon Day (#91) tackles a fake ball carrier. Ishaq Williams (#11) drives a blocking sled. Bob Diaco coaches up the fundamentals.

0:45 — There’s a lot athletically to like about Daniel Smith (#87). This should be an interesting season for the local South Bend product. Will he be just another spring achiever, or will he play a significant role in the offense.

Remember, it wasn’t all that long ago that Brian Kelly was singing the praises of Deion Walker in spring ball. I think he ended up with one catch the season after.

0:49 — Here’s one of Brindza’s field goal attempts. The snap looked good — thanks to new long-snapper Scott Daly, who is taking over for departing veteran Jordan Cowart.

0:51 — What’s up, Manti?

0:54 — That’s a tough match-up for Austin Collinsworth (#28), trying to match-up physically with Alex Welch (#82).

0:59 — I’ve done my best not to rave about Cam McDaniel (#33) yet, but I’ve got to believe he’s going to get some significant carries in the offense this season. He seems to be a guy that has such a strong grasp of the game, and is too productive of an athlete to keep off the field.

1:05 — About the only guy that CAN keep McDaniel off the field is George Atkinson III (#4). Here’s Atkinson on one of those nifty stretch pitches, getting around the edge and running for a nice gain.

1:11 — Here’s your catch of the spring by freshman Corey Robinson (#88). That’s a heckuva play by a kid many didn’t expect to be ready to contribute. Now (if we’re jumping to conclusions), it’s going to be hard not to imagine a role for him in next year’s offense, especially with his height and ball skills.

1:20 — New receiver CJ Prosise (#20) just did bad, bad things to Eilar Hardy, burning by him for a big gain in one-on-one drills. Prosise is a really intriguing athlete. He’s a 220-pound guy that seems to have pretty good jets, too. (He was a 10.9 100m guy in high school.)

It’s too early to call him a poor man’s Percy Harvin, but it looks like Kelly and offensive coordinator Chuck Martin seem to have a guy they think can excel in the slot.

1:27 — Looks like Josh Atkinson (#24) got away with some interference.

1:35 — This looks like some eleven-on-eleven work, with plenty of talent getting after it.

1:38 — Ishaq Williams just plants Will Mahone here. From other reports, it sounds like freshman Mike Heuerman whiffed on his block.

1:45 — Don’t look now, but Tommy Rees has been showing some good touch on his fade routes. Here’s a nice conversion with Davaris Daniels (#10).

1:51 — Big Louis Nix (#1) just burns past Nick Martin on his way to a big hit in the backfield.

1:59 — This would be an exciting development. Golson buys time, keeps his eyes down field and throws a strike to Prosise, who gallops away from defenders for an easy touchdown.

2:04 — That’s a nice play by linebacker Kendall Moore (#8) who is fighting for his chance at middle linebacker. Right now, he’s slotted behind Jarrett Grace, but Moore definitely has the athleticism and physicality necessary to play.

2:10 — That’s Mahone bursting through for a nice gain.

2:12 — Rees throws another nice deep ball — this time it’s Chris Brown (#2) making the back-shoulder catch.

2:18 — Nice grab, Davaris Daniels.





Irish add commitment from CB Donte Vaughn

Donte Vaughn

Notre Dame’s recruiting class grew on Monday. And in adding 6-foot-3 Memphis cornerback Donte Vaughn, it grew considerably.

The Irish added another jumbo-sized skill player in Vaughn, beating out a slew of SEC offers for the intriguing cover man. Vaughn picked Notre Dame over offers from Auburn, LSU, Miami, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Tennessee and Texas A&M among others.

He made the announcement on Monday, his 18th birthday:

It remains to be seen if Vaughn can run like a true cornerback. But his length certainly gives him a skill-set that doesn’t currently exist on the Notre Dame roster.

Interestingly enough, Vaughn’s commitment comes a cycle after Brian VanGorder made news by going after out-of-profile coverman Shaun Crawford, immediately offering the 5-foot-9 cornerback after taking over for Bob Diaco, who passed because of Crawford’s size. An ACL injury cut short Crawford’s freshman season before it got started, but not before Crawford already proved he’ll be a valuable piece of the Irish secondary for years to come.

Vaughn is another freaky athlete in a class that already features British Columbia’s Chase Claypool. With a safety depth chart that’s likely turning over quite a bit in the next two seasons, Vaughn can clearly shift over if that’s needed, though Notre Dame adding length like Vaughn clearly points to some of the shifting trends after Richard Sherman went from an average wide receiver to one of the best cornerbacks in football, and Vaughn will be asked to play on the outside.

Vaughn is the 15th member of Notre Dame’s 2016 signing class. He is the fifth defensive back, joining safeties D.J. Morgan, Jalen Elliott and Spencer Perry along with cornerback Julian Love. The Irish project to take one more.

With Notre Dame expecting another huge recruiting weekend with USC coming to town, it’ll be very interesting to see how the Irish staff close out this recruiting class.




Days before facing Notre Dame, USC coach Steve Sarkisian to take leave of absence


When Notre Dame takes on rival USC on Saturday, they’ll be facing a Trojans team without a head coach. USC athletic director Pat Haden announced today that effective immediately, head coach Steve Sarkisian will be taking an indefinite leave of absence. Offensive coordinator Clay Helton will be interim head coach.

While the details are still coming into focus, multiple reports point to another incident with alcohol. Haden himself said that he made the decision after speaking with Sarkisian.

“I called Steve and talked to him. It was very clear to me that he is not healthy. I asked him to take an indefinite leave of absence,” Haden said, according to multiple Los Angeles media reports.

Sarkisian’s decision-making and alcohol use came into the spotlight this August when the head coach made inappropriate statements at a large booster event. Sarkisian addressed the media after the incident, acknowledged mixing medication with alcohol, and vowed to seek help and not to make the same mistake again.

Today’s incident appears to be a relapse, and one that requires immediate attention. Helton ran the team’s practice today and steps back into an interim head coaching role, a job he handled after the Trojans fired Lane Kiffin and Ed Orgeron left after not being awarded the permanent job.

“Fortunately or unfortunately, I have been in this situation before,” Helton said. “Once again, I’m very fortunate to have a group of first-class kids that are extremely talented and want to do something special here.”

This is the second major sports persona to leave his season to seek treatment in recent weeks. New York Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia left the team to seek treatment for alcohol issues. The Trojans are coming off an upset loss to Washington on Thursday night, losing 17-12 as a 17-point favorite.