USC Notre Dame Football

Winter workout report breakdown


In addition to Brian Kelly’s opening press conference, brought us a behind the scenes peek at winter workouts.

With some footage from Camp Kelly, a few epic tire fights, and a whole lot of sweat, steam, and hard work, it’s a fun watch and good update on the team’s progress since the bowl game.

Thanks to some epic music, this feels like a scene out of a Ridley Scott movie.

As usual, I’ll help out with some of the individuals. But watch along and get pumped up for spring practice.



0:04 — A slo-mo opener? Michael Bay nods with approval.

0:14 — First glitch in the Matrix. While we can identify recruited walk-on Eamon McOsker (No. 46), No. 19 isn’t currently on the Irish roster. Is that Corey Robinson in a new jersey?

Edit: Heard from Notre Dame’s Sports Information Dept., and it appears that Doug Randolph has changed numbers to No. 19. 

0:18 — Justin Brent looking good in his No. 11 jersey.

0:20 — It looks mighty chilly from SoCal seeing BK with a whistle in his mouth.

0:22 — Fifth-year players Justin Utupo (53) and Kendall Moore (8) work some conditioning drills. Respect Utupo going sleeveless.

0:26 — That’s redshirt freshman Jacob Matuska now wearing No. 89.

0:28 — And our first look at Mike McGlinchey in No. 68 flipping a tire. That’s a big kid and a mighty big tire. A very functional deadlift for those wondering.

0:29 — Quarterbacks Everett Golson (5) and Malik Zaire (9) toss a medicine ball to each other. 

0:34 — Romeo Okwara (45) and Jarron Jones (94) catch a breather in between reps.

0:36 — That’s Amir Carlisle (3) moving between cones.

0:40 — Sophomore running back duo Greg Bryant (1) and Tarean Folston (25) get after it during an agility drill.

0:46 — That’s Corey Robinson (88) working the high knees. He’s still only listed at 6’4.25″ so that growth spurt we all wondered about either hasn’t hit or the roster hasn’t been updated.

0:50 — Slo-mo tackling! This time Cole Luke (3) lays the boom on a dummy.

0:53 — Ishaq Williams, all 271-pounds of him, works the weighted sled with Scott Booker looking on.

0:56 — That’s Chris Brown (2) looking long and explosive coming out of a break.

0:59 — Romeo Okwara catches the wrath of new strength coach Dave Andrews, who has joined the Irish staff from Illinois. Andrews worked with Kelly and head strength coordinator Paul Longo at Cincinnati.

1:03 — That doesn’t look fun.

1:07 — That’s Michael Deeb (42) nearly planting a hole in the turf inside Loftus with a big hit on the tackling dummy.

1:09 — That’s Sheldon Day  against Matt Hegarty (77) in a one-on-one drill.

1:16 — Fast feet on Jaylon Smith (9), working the speed ladder.

1:19 — TIRE FIGHT! This is a pretty intense drill, as Max Redfield (10) and Greg Bryant (1) square off. This looks mighty intense and features two guys that will play prominently into the future of the program.

I feel like I’m watching Gladiator or something, right now.

1:47 — Same drill, this time with John Turner (31) squaring off with Durham Smythe (80).

1:51 — Looks like Jarron Jones is about to get the better of Ronnie Stanley (78). That’s a lot of manpower right there.

(If we all demand it and tweet @NDFIDM, maybe we can find out who won between Redfield and Bryant.)

Even amidst chaos, Kelly expecting USC’s best

JuJu Smith-Schuster, Rocky Hayes, Blaise Taylor

USC head coach Steve Sarkisian was fired on Monday, with interim head coach Clay Helton taking the reins of the Trojan program during tumultuous times. Helton will be the fourth different USC head coach to face Notre Dame in as many years, illustrative of the chaos that’s shaken up Heritage Hall in the years since Pete Carroll left for the NFL.

All eyes are on the SC program, with heat on athletic director Pat Haden and the ensuing media circus that only Los Angeles can provide. But Brian Kelly doesn’t expect anything but their best when USC boards a plane to take on the Irish in South Bend.

While the majority of Notre Dame’s focus will be inward this week, Kelly did take the time on Sunday and Monday to talk with his team about the changes atop the Trojan program, and how they’ll likely impact the battle for the Jeweled Shillelagh.

“We talked about there would be an interim coach, and what that means,” Kelly said. “Teams come together under those circumstances and they’re going to play their very best. And I just reminded them of that.”

While nobody on this Notre Dame roster has experienced a coaching change, they’ve seen their share of scrutiny. The Irish managed to spring an upset not many saw coming against LSU last year in the Music City Bowl after a humiliating defeat against the Trojans and amidst the chaos of a quarterbacking controversy. And just last week, we saw Charlie Strong’s team spring an upset against arch rival Oklahoma when just about everybody left the Longhorns for dead.

“I think you look at the way Texas responded this past weekend with a lot of media scrutiny,” Kelly said Tuesday. “I expect USC to respond the same way, so we’re going to have to play extremely well.”

Outside of the head coaching departure, it’s difficult to know if there’ll be any significant difference between a team lead by Sarkisian or the one that Helton will lead into battle. The offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach has been at USC for six years, and has already held the title of interim head coach when he led the Trojans to a 2013 Las Vegas Bowl title after Lane Kiffin was fired and Ed Orgeron left the program after he wasn’t given the full time position.

Helton will likely call plays, a role he partially handled even when Sarkisian was on the sideline. The defense will still be run by Justin Wilcox. And more importantly, the game plan will be executed by a group of players that are among the most talented in the country.

“They have some of the finest athletes in the country. I’ve recruited a lot of them, and they have an immense amount of pride for their program and personal pride,” Kelly said. “So they will come out with that here at Notre Dame, there is no question about that.”

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.