Feb 10, 2014, 1:39 PM EST
Notre Dame will have nine former players in Indianapolis for the NFL Scouting Combine. The premiere pre-draft talent evaluation session, taking place February 22-25 at Lucas Oil Stadium, will give NFL coaches, scouts and general managers a closer look at NFL prospects before the upcoming draft.
The following former Notre Dame players received invites:
George Atkinson III, Jr.
Bennett Jackson, Sr.
TJ Jones, Sr.
Zack Martin, Sr.
Troy Niklas, Jr.
Louis Nix, Sr.
Prince Shembo, Sr.
Stephon Tuitt, Jr.
Chris Watt, Sr.
After a few off years of producing talent, the NFL has looked kindly upon the prospects the Notre Dame football program has produced. Last season, the Irish had eight players invited to Indianapolis, with six drafted. The 17 prospects over the two year window is behind only LSU (24), Alabama (22), Florida State (22) and Florida (18).
Of course, not all prospects invited get drafted. Last year, Tyler Eifert parlayed his performance at the combine into a first round selection. Manti Te’o, the story of the combine as he was embroiled in his catfishing scandal, put up subpar test results, likely causing him to slip into the second round. Cierre Wood and Braxston Cave went undrafted last year.
The combine presents different opportunities for different Irish players. For Stephon Tuitt, it’s an chance to stake his claim as a first round defensive lineman. Physically, Tuitt must impress, both in measureables like height and weight, but also showing advanced athleticism during drills. The same goes for Louis Nix, who will likely raise a few eyebrows upon weigh-in, but should also impress with his quickness in individual drills and events like the shuttle run.
For as important as the combine is at the top of the draft, it may be even more important for players down the board. George Atkinson’s invite allows the former running back to display his greatest asset, his breakaway speed. If Atkinson blazes an elite time in the 40-yard dash, it could help a team take a flier on him in the late rounds. The same goes for Bennett Jackson, with his track background likely to come in handy.
Two bigger stories at the combine will likely be talent evaluators first look at junior Troy Niklas, who will show off a lot of impressive assets in Indianapolis. Physically, few tight ends will match what Niklas and his 6-foot-7, 270-pound frame can produce, and if Niklas is able to run in the 4.6 range, he’ll likely climb more than a few draft boards, pushing for the top spot among a crowded tight end position group.
Similarly, Zack Martin will have another chance to show his skills, though workouts in shorts and t-shirts tend to devalue what Martin is capable of doing on the field.
Notre Dame’s nine participants in the combine are the third most from a college football program, trailing just Alabama and LSU. The Irish’s two-year output is more players invited than the program produced over the previous five combines (2008-12).
Mar 6, 2015, 3:08 PM EST
A position group that started last spring as one of the biggest question marks on the defense enters spring practice with the chance to be the most talented unit on the field.
Mar 5, 2015, 4:44 PM EST
It’s official: Brian Kelly’s new coaching staff won the press conference. Just about universally positive reviews came from Monday’s official announcements, with new coaches Mike Sanford, Autry Denson, Keith Gilmore and Todd Lyght winning the day.
Mar 4, 2015, 2:25 PM EST
As the focus begins to turn to spring football, it appears one very big roster move is taking place along the offensive line. Matt Fortuna of ESPN reports that starting center Matt Hegarty will be leaving Notre Dame and playing his fifth year elsewhere.
Mar 3, 2015, 11:49 AM EST
With Notre Dame just one season into Mike Denbrock’s tenure as offensive coordinator, Brian Kelly didn’t look like he was in the market for a new offensive coordinator. But in Mike Sanford, Kelly (and Denbrock) found a coach worth making room for.
Mar 3, 2015, 11:32 AM EST
In hiring defensive backs coach Todd Lyght, Brian Kelly decided to bring back to the program one of the most talented players of the Lou Holtz era. While his resume may be short as a coach, one listen to Lyght reveals a man whose DNA is football, with coaching taking root after a world-class career.
Mar 3, 2015, 10:49 AM EST
Notre Dame’s all-time leading rusher is now in charge of coaching the position. Autry Denson’s return to South Bend comes at the perfect time, with Brian Kelly looking to find the right coach and personality to replace Tony Alford on the coaching staff.
Mar 3, 2015, 10:20 AM EST
Notre Dame’s new defensive line coach Keith Gilmore was introduced yesterday, a reunion for Gilmore with former boss Brian Kelly and former college teammates Brian VanGorder and Paul Longo.
Mar 2, 2015, 10:52 AM EST
After weeks of speculation, Brian Kelly has announced his coaching staff for the 2015 season. The result is four new assistants, a few new assignments and the homecoming of a handful of former Irish stars.
Mar 1, 2015, 7:47 PM EST
Before Brian Kelly introduces us to his new coaching staff tomorrow, let’s finish the mailbag. More here on what to expect from Mike Sanford, “committing” to the run, and stopping the option.
Feb 28, 2015, 2:48 PM EST
Well crew, I’ve gotta say… I’m a little underwhelmed by the mailbag question. And in the 150+ comments of people screaming at each other about mostly stupid stuff, I think I speak for everybody when I say:
Feb 27, 2015, 12:40 PM EST
Former Notre Dame president Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C., died Thursday night on campus. Father Ted was 97. He said his final mass on Thursday, the day he passed away.
Feb 26, 2015, 3:24 PM EST
Gone are Cody Riggs and Austin Collinsworth. Returning is a safety position that’s struggled, another transfer, a young cornerback on the rise, and (hopefully) an exiled potential star.
Welcome to the Notre Dame secondary. New coaching, same scheme, different players, and one of 2015’s great unknowns.
Feb 25, 2015, 2:34 PM EST
As we get a few extra weeks to prep for spring practice, let’s open the mailbag.
Feb 24, 2015, 6:56 PM EST
A position that looked like a huge question mark entering the 2014 season ended the year with an embarrassment of riches. After watching Will Fuller emerge with a record-setting sophomore season, the loss of DaVaris Daniels and departure of TJ Jones didn’t do anything to slow the Irish passing game down.
Feb 24, 2015, 1:34 PM EST
None of Notre Dame’s coaching changes are official yet. But more arrows point to North Carolina defensive line coach Keith Gilmore joining the Irish staff in the same role.
Feb 23, 2015, 12:43 AM EST
There might not be a deeper unit on the roster than the offensive line. After a lack of depth made it nearly impossible to practice at full speed heading into the 2012 BCS title game, Notre Dame enters the 2015 season with a two-deep most teams would pay for.
Feb 20, 2015, 10:48 AM EST
Whether it’s the Siberian Express rolling through most of the country (sorry, guys) or the grand reshuffling taking place on Brian Kelly’s coaching staff, Notre Dame announced a delay in the kickoff of spring practice.
Feb 19, 2015, 11:44 AM EST
After an incredibly impressive run at the position, Notre Dame enters spring practice with nothing but question marks at tight end. After Brian Kelly watched Kyle Rudolph, Tyler Eifert, Troy Niklas and now Ben Koyack churn through his program, he’ll spend spring trying to figure out what exactly he has at the position.
Feb 18, 2015, 11:47 AM EST
On Tuesday, a flurry of reports had Brian Kelly focusing in on the final pieces of his reshuffled coaching staff. They include two likely additions, one transition, and a position shift.
Feb 18, 2015, 11:18 AM EST
A few days after safety Avery Sebastian announced his intentions, Notre Dame made the commitment and graduate transfer of the former Cal safety official. Sebastian will enroll in graduate school and join the team in June.