Practice Team

Practice report breakdown: Day One


Just because contact drills don’t start for a few days doesn’t mean we shouldn’t over analyze every frame of practice footage provided us.

As usual, here’s an overly critical look at the 90+ seconds of practice video released late Monday night by the FIDM staff.

Feel free to jump to conclusions at your own risk, but a very good first glimpse at the ’13 football team.

1:38 — That’s Bennett Jackson (2) breaking down the team before its first practice of the season. A nice spirited breakdown as you’d expect.

1:54 — That’s George Atkinson (4) running with the first string offense, taking the handoff from Tommy Rees (11).

1:56 — Even in just shorts and helmets, Louis Nix (1) is a ton to handle. New center Nick Martin (72) does his best against the preseason All-American.

1:58 — Malik Zaire (8) hits Luke Massa (14) on the crossing route while Tarean Folston (25) looks on.

2:01 –Here’s good on good. Bennett Jackson (2) covering Davaris Daniels (10). There’s plenty of fast twitch on that rep, as Daniels looks explosive in and out of his cuts.

2:03 — Welcome back, Lo Wood (23), who gets a bump on Chris Brown (2) before dropping back into his zone.

2:07 — That’s Kona Schwenke (93) fighting through the interior of the Irish offensive line. Look really carefully, and you see Conor Hanratty (65) watching from the right guard position.

2:10 — Brian Kelly looks on, taking in practice with athletic trainer Rob Hunt.

2:12 — That’s Amir Carlisle (3) hitting the breaks and flying right by freshman safety Max Redfield (10).

2:18 — Here’s our first look at freshman phenom Jaylon Smith (9), dropping back into coverage, getting a jam on fellow freshman James Onwualu (15).

2:21 — Not much Matthias Farley (41) can do when covering Troy Niklas (85) on the out cut. Niklas comes up with the catch even in tight coverage, and then dents the earth when he falls to the ground.

2:25 — What’s the ceiling for Prince Shembo (55) this season? I’m thinking he’s in line for double-digit sacks. Up to 258 pounds, he actually looks svelte and athletic as he powers through the blocking dummies.

2:30 — Check out freshman wide receiver Will Fuller (15), matching up with freshman cornerback Devin Butler (36). While he didn’t want us to read into it, Kelly mentioned Fuller’s burst during his post-practice comments with Jack Nolan. So I’m going to read into that.

2:35 — Nice explosion out of the three-point stance by Ishaq Williams (11).

2:36 — Blink and you miss it: KeiVarae Russell (6) breaks up a pass intended for Danny Smith (87).

2:37 — More Max Redfield (15).

2:40 — Danny Spond (13) in coverage on CJ Prosise (20).

2:42 — Alex Welch (82) looking healthy with the nifty catch.

2:44 — Our first look at Greg Bryant (1) certainly doesn’t disappoint. The freshman running back looks pretty smooth running pass patterns. Another guy Kelly mentioned by name.

2:47 — Cam McDaniel (33) could put on a seminar for how to run downhill. Just a really natural running back.

2:50 — That’s Malik Zaire (8) dropping back to pass.

2:53 — That’s true freshman Isaac Rochelle (90) going one-on-one with Steve Elmer (79). Give Rochelle the win on this rep. Rochelle reportedly notched 26 reps of 225 during summer testing, a really impressive number for a guy that came onto campus looking massive at 6-3.5, 280-pounds.




Five Irish players sign UFA contracts

Matthias Farley

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

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

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)

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.