C. J. Prosise

Mailbag: Part 2 (A-to-Z, Ishaq, CJ and more)


Happy Monday to you all. Hope everybody is enjoying the fireworks at the Old Course, with one of the more interesting leaderboards I can ever remember.

But golf? That’s not why you guys are here. So let’s finish the mailbag before we get back to our regularly scheduled programming.


@AndrewWinn: 29 profiles of #NDFB players complete for Irish A-to-Z series 56+ players to go 50 days untill kickoff. Can he do it?!

I’m plowing away. It’s both suicidal and fun—a great way to get yourself familiarized with a roster that has a ton of talent on it… and enflame your carpal tunnel.

But don’t worry, I’ve got a handful of profiles mostly written, so while it looks like I’m only on Jay Hayes, I’m waaaaay ahead — (who am I kidding?). But we’ve got a lot left to do this summer, finishing up the Offseason Q&As and another Top 25 ranking of the roster.


ncdomer: When Kelly talked about the academic challenges our players face, he referred to “playing on the road, playing night games, getting home at 4 o’clock in the morning” Missing a whole night of sleep sounds like an athletic challenge for the next week too. Why doesn’t the team spend the night after a late road game?

I wondered that for a while, too. But I’m guessing it’s a matter of cost—both money and time. It’s not an inconsequential number to pay for another night in a top-flight hotel for 70 players, 20 coaches and staff members, and a contingency of school officials as well.

Plus, for anybody who travels from the West Coast back to South Bend, you loose a ton of day in the air, so while you’d probably get to sleep that night in your hotel, you’ve put yourself back to campus much later on Sunday than you’d want.

Now throw in things like treatment, film review, prep for the following week’s game… and you really don’t have the luxury of giving away that night, just so you can sleep for an extra few hours.


domer521: Summer school ends July 24. How soon after that will we learn Ishaq Williams fate ?

As Brian Kelly pointed out, this is an NCAA issue now. So I’m putting the window at roughly 48 hours before opening kickoff against Texas. (I wish I was kidding.)

While the details of this situation are still really hard to pin down, Williams is likely dealing with some retroactive GPA issues, especially if there were multiple courses in question. But the fact that Notre Dame is working (and I’m assuming, on Williams’ behalf) with the folks in Indianapolis about a way to get Williams back on the field is at least promising.

I’m hoping it works out for Williams, who I still think has an NFL future, even if he only spends the season on the scout team.


twebb2: Hey Keith, can you talk about the special teams at some point, especially kick returns and punt returns? This seems to be one of those lingering problems of the Kelly era (like, “Is this the year Ishaq finally breaks out?” – hah)… do you think we’ll make some progress on special teams this year?

For as evergreen as this question seems, complaining about Notre Dame’s special teams under BK also seems like a rite of preseason camp.

I actually think Notre Dame’s special teams were vastly improved last year, but after the Brindza/holder meltdown, you tend to forget about the nifty returns Greg Bryant had and the much improved work on coverage units that we saw from Scott Booker’s troops.

I know, you didn’t ask about coverage teams or kickers. (And you really didn’t complain, either.) But I expect someone like CJ Sanders to come in and potentially add some electricity to the return game, and it sure feels like CJ Prosise would be a fun guy to see get an opportunity as a kickoff return man.

I was not a big fan of George Atkinson as a kickoff returner. While he had a few home runs, he lost me with the tip-toeing, the fastest way to take a 10.3 100-meter sprinter and turn him into a slow-poke. But I’d be surprised if Amir Carlisle was back returning kicks again this year, and I’d hope that Kelly and Booker would be open to giving a young player like Sanders a shot at impacting a game in the third phase, especially when snaps look tough to earn.


irishsoccerfirst: Keith, it appears that we have more depth than at any time in recent memory. Can we use this depth to our advantage on game day or is it more important as an insurance policy in the case of injuries? I remember reading that one of the keys to the Seattle defense is rotating D line by series. Supposedly, the fresh linemen are more likely to get pressure on the QB without placing so much reliance on blitzing.

I don’t think there’s anybody inside the Gug who wants to create depth for an insurance policy. I suspect they agree with you, and hope that Notre Dame is able to play as many bodies as possible, especially up front on defense. While there’s been growing grumbling about the Irish staff’s inability to land impact defensive linemen, I’m looking at a front seven that has the most depth we’ve seen in the last 10-15 years.

Now we have to see if that depth is good depth, and if last year’s experience for guys like Jay Hayes, Jacob Matuska, Daniel Cage, Andrew Trumbetti and Grant Blankenship will help in 2015.

I’m not sure we’ll find many similarities between Pete Carroll’s Seahawk defense and the group of guys Notre Dame runs out there. And while depth is helpful for Seattle, so is elite personnel. The Irish have two guys that most think can be elite on the defensive line (Sheldon Day and Jarron Jones). They have a great linebacking corps that can supplement if the pass rush needs it.

But the key to depth is to be able to use it on your own terms. If Notre Dame can do that, it’ll mean Brian VanGorder’s defense looks a lot like the group that started the season, not the one that ended it.


smsetnor: Can we just give some love to AJ Pollock? The is an MVP candidate who plays an excellent centerfield and is hitting at a solid clip. I get irritated whenever I see the D-backs sit the guy because he should play every day.

You said it! All-Star game appearance, hitting .300 and filling out the stat sheet. I don’t play fantasy baseball anymore, but those stolen bases and runs scored sure look mighty nice.

Kizer named MVP at annual ECHOES awards

@NDFootball Twitter
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DeShone Kizer was named the Monogram Club’s Most Valuable Player for the 2016 season at the 96th annual Notre Dame football awards banquet. Kizer was voted team MVP by his teammates, after throwing for 2,925 yards and 26 touchdowns and rushing for 472 yards and eight scores.

He was one of 15 players honored with an award at the “ECHOES,” with the following accolades being given:

Equanimeous St. Brown, Offensive Player of the Year.
James Onwualu, Defensive Player of the Year
Greer Martini, Next Man In award
Drue Tranquill, Rockne Student-Athlete Award
Cole Luke, Nick Pietrosante Award
Isaac Rochell, Lineman of the Year
Quenton Nelson, Offensive Lineman of the Year
Scott Daly, Special Teams Player of the Year
Alex Bars, Newcomer of the Year, Offense
Nyles Morgan, Newcomer of the Year, Defense
Ben Stuttman, Scout Team Player of the Year, Offense
Jonathan Jones, Scout Team Player of the Year, Defense
Mark Harrell, Father Lange Iron Cross
Tyler Newsome, Irish Around the Bend



Notre Dame names 7 captains for 2017 team

SOUTH BEND, IN - OCTOBER 17: Quenton Nelson #56 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish celebrates after a 10-yard touchdown reception by Corey Robinson against the USC Trojans in the fourth quarter of the game at Notre Dame Stadium on October 17, 2015 in South Bend, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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Notre Dame named seven captains for the 2017 season, the most to wear the ‘C’ in school history. Quarterback DeShone Kizer, linebackers Greer Martini and Nyles Morgan, offensive linemen Mike McGlinchey and Quenton Nelson, safety Drue Tranquill and walk-on receiver Austin Webster were all given the honor.

McGlinchey returns in the role, the 22nd different two-time captain in the program’s history. New to the job are the rest, including Kizer, who has yet to make a decision on if he’ll return for 2017 yet.

After worries about the team’s leadership heading into the 2016, the naming of captains in the immediate aftermath of the season is a change—Brian Kelly not naming his team’s official leaders into August training camp last year. It’s not an unprecedented move for Kelly (he named Harrison Smith and Michael Floyd team captains at the banquet following the 2010 season), though it points to some changes—some subtle, others not—that’ll likely take hold after a four-loss season.

Webster, a rising senior reserve wide receiver from California who has yet to register a stat in a Notre Dame uniform, made his debut as a sophomore in 2015 against UMass, is the first active walk-on to receive the honor.


Irish land blue-chip OL Aaron Banks

Tom Loy, Irish 247

Notre Dame received the commitment of 4-star offensive tackle Aaron Banks on Friday afternoon. Picking the Irish over a national offer list that included Michigan, Tennessee, and local programs USC and UCLA, the 6-foot-7, 335-pound Banks reminded all that even if the Irish only won four games this season, Harry Hiestand is still one of the premier offensive line coaches in the country.

Banks made the commitment from a ceremony at his high school in El Cerrito, California. And when he picked the Irish, he added to Notre Dame’s impressive offensive line haul, joining Dillan Gibbons, Joshua Lugg and Robert Hainsey — a key piece of the puzzle moving forward.

Banks is a consensus 4-star recruit and a Top 200 prospect. He took an official visit to Michigan in November, but has been a long-time target of Hiestand’s, visiting South Bend in September and welcoming Brian Kelly and Hiestand into his home after the USC game.

As a big recruiting weekend gets started at Notre Dame, the annual Echoes Awards will serve as the beginning of an important home stretch for a program without a bowl game. As Kelly still looks to lock in a defensive coordinator, not to mention other staff changes still in the air, Banks takes back some of the lost momentum, a key commitment heading into a holiday dead period before a furious finish leading into the first Wednesday in February.

Banks is No. 18 in the Irish recruiting class. He’s an early-enrollee, ready to hit campus within weeks and compete on the interior of the offensive line during spring ball.

Zaire says thank you to Notre Dame

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA - SEPTEMBER 12: Quarterback Malik Zaire #8 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish rushes past defensive end Mike Moore #32 of the Virginia Cavaliers in the third quarter at Scott Stadium on September 12, 2015 in Charlottesville, Virginia. The Notre Dame Fighting Irish won, 34-27. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Big week for The Observer. Not just for its advertising revenues, but for the classy gesture that outgoing senior quarterback Malik Zaire made this week.

Thursday’s edition included a letter to the editor from Zaire, who took to the student newspaper not to make headlines around the internet, but rather to thank the university for his experience in South Bend.

While Zaire’s time at Notre Dame is drawing to a close, he will leave as a proud alum. So while he’ll play football next season at another university, Zaire wrote the following in Thursday’s issue:

Dear Notre Dame students and staff,

My life changed for the better the moment I stepped onto the University of Notre Dame’s beautiful campus. The one goal I had set in my mind to achieve was to become a better man, a Notre Dame man. After growing through many trials and triumphs, the thing I’ve learned most from my experience was that if you don’t believe in yourself first, then no one else will. I believed in becoming a better man and succeeding through any circumstance, and I can say that I’ve truly accomplished that. I often refer to the famous quote from the movie “Catch Me If You Can” that was well put by Frank Abagnale:

“Two little mice fell in a bucket of cream. The first mouse quickly gave up and drowned. The second mouse wouldn’t quit. He struggled so hard that eventually he churned that cream into butter and crawled out.”

I’ve put my heart, soul and passion into the University, the football program, the South Bend community and the Irish community worldwide. I have the unbelievable honor to represent this University to the fullest as a student and soon-to-be alumni. Thank you to the amazing students and staff that I’ve met through the years for helping me grow into the person I’ve always wanted to be. I love the Irish and will always be an Irish alum no matter where I go! I look forward to keeping in touch. Let’s change the world!

Go Irish!

Malik Zaire

Dec. 7

Zaire is expected to compete for a starting quarterback job next year as a graduate transfer. He’s reportedly taken a visit to Wisconsin and plans to visit North Carolina as well, just two of several programs on the radar as Zaire looks to step in and win a starting Power 5 job.