Keith Arnold

TEMPE, AZ - NOVEMBER 08:  Safety Max Redfield #10 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish during the college football game against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Sun Devil Stadium on November 8, 2014 in Tempe, Arizona. The Sun Devils defeated the Fighting Irish 55-31.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Irish A-to-Z: Max Redfield

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Expectations have been heaped on Max Redfield‘s shoulders since the day he arrived with a five-star ranking. With his final chance to play up to them, the Irish senior needs to put the past behind him and focus on making every snap count, consistency the only thing keeping him from a strong season.

Redfield has the athleticism of an NFL safety. And while Devin Studstill stole some snaps during spring, the senior is the only player capable of anchoring the Irish secondary, three seasons with Brian VanGorder and a professional career at stake if he can get things together.

Even after modest production and more than a few self-inflicted setbacks, there’s no shortage of confidence in Redfield. Now he’ll need to show a consistency that’ll allow the Irish defense to count on him, something Brian Kelly’s been asking for since the day he arrived on campus.

 

MAX REDFIELD
6’1″, 205 lbs.
Senior, No. 10, S

 

RECRUITING PROFILE

Redfield had a five-star rating before he pledged to Notre Dame at the Under Armour All-American Bowl, leaving a commitment to USC to come to Notre Dame after watching the Irish roll through 2012.

Had offers from the West Coast elite programs and could’ve been a top recruit at either safety or receiver.

 

PLAYING CAREER

Freshman Season (2013): Played in 12 games, starting against Rutgers in the Pinstripe Bowl. Made 12 tackles on the season.

Sophomore Season (2014): Played in all 13 games, starting 11 at safety. Made 68 total tackles, tops for defenders in the Irish secondary. Had interception against Michigan. Made 14 tackles against LSU, putting him on multiple All-Bowl Team lists.

Junior Season (2015): Made 11 starts, totaling 64 tackles, two TFLs, one interception and two pass breakups. Did not play against Georgia Tech or in the Fiesta Bowl against Ohio State after being suspended for violating team rules.

 

WHAT WE SAID LAST YEAR

For the second-straight season I swung and missed on my Redfield projections.

I’m going to bet on Redfield one more time, taking my own advice that sometimes it takes a little bit longer for safeties to figure it out. That said, there are some things that I’d like to see cleaned up in his game, and it’s hard to un-see that missed tackle on the sidelines against Arizona State, the kind of olé that sticks with a player for a long time.

You need to be a ball-hawking centerfielder if you aren’t the most physical guy in the world. And Redfield’s single interception and just two pass breakups sure doesn’t look like ball-hawking. He was a step slow too often in 2014, seeing a play develop, but not reacting soon enough to make a difference. That’s not good safety play.

But Redfield’s bowl game performance really helped. (No, the touchdown pass wasn’t his fault.) And that’s the way Redfield should play every week, near the football constantly and racking up tackles while playing physical.

This spring, we heard all the right things about Redfield’s game. And the change at position coach will be good for Redfield, a new voice—and clean slate—important. Make no mistake, there isn’t anybody else in this secondary who can play safety the way the Irish staff needs Redfield to play. So if the Irish are going to be as good as they think they can be, they’ll need Redfield to up his production.

My guess? He’ll do it. So I’m putting the baseline at 85 tackles and four interceptions, while also expecting him to exponentially increase his ability to be disruptive in the passing game.

 

FUTURE POTENTIAL

There is no question about Redfield’s physical talents. But at this point, there are major question marks about the senior’s maturity, his ability to grasp this defensive system, and his reliability as the last line of defense for this unit.

A five-star ranking might have been a curse for Redfield. He came in with great expectations, making his freshman season a difficult one—ending with the decision to force-feed him experience as he moved into the starting lineup against Rutgers in the Pinstripe Bowl. Three seasons later we’re still waiting to see the safety who can impact the game—making big plays as a deep ball defender and tackles as a safety supporting the run game.

The lightbulb certainly can come on later for some than others. And there’s no question that this defense needs him to figure it out sooner than later. But at this point, Redfield may be the team’s biggest risk-reward player.

 

CRYSTAL BALL

If he builds some confidence early in the season, I think Redfield is a top-five defender on this defense and will make a big statistical impact. If he doesn’t, I think Devin Studstill is starting by the end of the season.

How this shakes out will likely be determined by the player who comes to training camp. Can Redfield mature? Can he play within the system and be a reliable teammate?  Brian Kelly will take a wait-and-see approach—as will the NFL.

As someone who has bet on Redfield for two straight seasons, I’m convinced he understands what’s expected from him. I’m even partially convinced he can live up to that standard.

 

While I’m not expecting Harrison Smith in the secondary, if Redfield can make a few big plays in the passing game and not give up any glaring mental mistakes, his athleticism and the Irish scheme will allow him to make a positive impact on the unit.

 

2016’s Irish A-to-Z
Josh Adams
Josh Barajas
Alex Bars
Asmar Bilal
Hunter Bivin
Grant Blankenship
Jonathan Bonner
Ian Book
Parker Boudreaux
Miles Boykin
Justin Brent
Devin Butler
Jimmy Byrne
Daniel Cage
Chase Claypool
Nick Coleman
Te’von Coney
Shaun Crawford
Scott Daly
Micah Dew-Treadway
Liam Eichenberg
Jalen Elliott
Nicco Feritta
Tarean Folston
Mark Harrell
Daelin Hayes
Jay Hayes
Tristen Hoge
Corey Holmes
Torii Hunter Jr.
Alizé Jones
Jamir Jones
Jarron Jones
Jonathan Jones
Tony Jones Jr.
Khalid Kareem
DeShone Kizer
Julian Love
Tyler Luatua
Cole Luke
Greer Martini
Jacob Matuska
Mike McGlinchey
Colin McGovern
Deon McIntosh
Javon McKinley
Pete Mokwuqh
John Montelus
D.J. Morgan
Nyles Morgan
Sam Mustipher
Quenton Nelson
Tyler Newsome
Adetokunbo Ogundeji
Julian Okwara
James Onwualu
Spencer Perry
Troy Pride Jr.

Video roundup: Notre Dame training camp coverage

Notre Dame quarterback Malik Zaire gets ready to throw a pass as the Notre Dame football team practices at Culver Military Academy in Culver, Indiana on Saturday, Aug. 6, 2016.  About the only thing Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly can say for certain about the quarterback position on the eve of practice is he doesn't expect DeShone Kizer and Zaire to play at the same time. (Santiago Flores/The South Bend Tribune via AP)
AP
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Notre Dame opened up training camp yesterday, and there’s plenty of video and photos from Day One to get you up to speed. With jersey changes, a young roster and essentially a new defense breaking in, there’s plenty more to watch other than a quarterback battle for the ages.

Let’s get all the great video/tweets/vines and highlights from Saturday’s workout.

***

 

SOCIAL MEDIA:

First, I’ll just say it: These new @NDFootball tweets are pretty awesome. So if that’s what Bleacher Report’s input is doing, I’m all for it.

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And my personal favorite…

Not sure about you guys, but those get me kinda fired up.

 

HIGHLIGHTS:

Here’s a bunch of different looks at practice No. 1, thanks to WatchND, Irish247 and Irish Illustrated.

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INTERVIEWS:

Here’s BK post-practice:

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Irish Sports Daily gives us a closer look at middle linebacker Nyles Morgan—ready to step in and be the defense’s anchor after two seasons as Joe Schmidt’s apprentice.

They also caught up with Tarean Folston, who gave a very promising update on how he feels heading into camp.

“100 percent, all the way. Mentally, physically,” Folston said. “In the Blue-Gold game, I was still lacking some of that mental toughness, I was still kind of in pain. Right now, I’m feeling great. No knee brace, I’m 100 percent there mentally.”

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Over at Blue & Gold, we hear from Max Redfield, who was back in the starting lineup as the Irish ran out their first-team defense. As Brian Kelly stressed, it’s only Day One. But Max is saying all the right things.

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Meanwhile, Durham Smythe‘s roll just got bigger with the loss of Alizé Jones—and he talked about the bonding experience the tight ends are having with those  wonderful mustaches.

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AND THE TWEETS:

Here’s some observations that I think might be worth keeping an eye on.

Irish A-to-Z: Troy Pride Jr.

Troy Pride
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The fastest man in South Carolina comes to South Bend looking to make some noise in Notre Dame’s secondary. A key recruit as the Irish staff continues to restock the secondary with talent that can play in a man-heavy scheme, Troy Pride Jr. was a big recruiting win as the Irish staff swooped into SEC Country and left with one of the state’s finest.

As impressive off the field as on it, Pride checks a lot of boxes as he begins his college career. While there’s no pressure to play, it’ll be interesting to see how quickly he pushes for time.

 

TROY PRIDE JR. 
5’11”, 180 lbs.
Freshman, No. 18, CB

 

RECRUITING PROFILE

A four-star recruit, Pride was one of South Carolina’s top prospects, on the All-USA South Carolina All-State Team, a Blue-Grey All-American Bowl participant and the 2015 Region II-AAA Player of the Year.

A four-time state champ in Track & Field his senior year, Pride brings elite speed to South Bend. Turned down programs like South Carolina, Clemson, North Carolina, Ole Miss and Tennessee.

 

FUTURE POTENTIAL

South Carolina’s sprint champ certainly has one overwhelming trait, running a 10.55 to win the state championship in the 100-meter dash. That should translate to opportunities in the Irish secondary, though being an elite sprinter doesn’t always translate to the football field.

But Pride doesn’t have the football limitations Josh Atkinson had, another elite sprinter who just couldn’t translate that speed onto the football field. He’s gifted with advanced cover skills that should allow him to compete this fall. He’s a smooth athlete who still needs to fill out his frame, but Pride’s a football player, with a key role on back-to-back state championship teams.

 

CRYSTAL BALL

Pride might be too talented to redshirt, capable of competing in the two-deep if he gets a firm grasp on the system. If that’s the case, expect him to get some time covering kicks and running on special teams, a place he should see the field if he’s going to burn the year of eligibility.

Pride has the physical traits this staff looks for in a cover cornerback. He’s got pedigree and leadership as well, a competitive football player who earned rave reviews from area recruiter Autry Denson as well as position coach Todd Lyght.

Notre Dame’s secondary is filled with young defensive backs looking to jump the line. I’d be surprised if Pride wasn’t one of them.

 

2016’s Irish A-to-Z
Josh Adams
Josh Barajas
Alex Bars
Asmar Bilal
Hunter Bivin
Grant Blankenship
Jonathan Bonner
Ian Book
Parker Boudreaux
Miles Boykin
Justin Brent
Devin Butler
Jimmy Byrne
Daniel Cage
Chase Claypool
Nick Coleman
Te’von Coney
Shaun Crawford
Scott Daly
Micah Dew-Treadway
Liam Eichenberg
Jalen Elliott
Nicco Feritta
Tarean Folston
Mark Harrell
Daelin Hayes
Jay Hayes
Tristen Hoge
Corey Holmes
Torii Hunter Jr.
Alizé Jones
Jamir Jones
Jarron Jones
Jonathan Jones
Tony Jones Jr.
Khalid Kareem
DeShone Kizer
Julian Love
Tyler Luatua
Cole Luke
Greer Martini
Jacob Matuska
Mike McGlinchey
Colin McGovern
Deon McIntosh
Javon McKinley
Pete Mokwuqh
John Montelus
D.J. Morgan
Nyles Morgan
Sam Mustipher
Quenton Nelson
Tyler Newsome
Adetokunbo Ogundeji
Julian Okwara
James Onwualu
Spencer Perry

Kelly on the QBs: “Everything is on the table”

150608_MalikZaire
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A starter and backup. A timeshare. Alternating series—or snaps.

That quarterback battle between DeShone Kizer and Malik Zaire? As of today, the possibilities are limitless.

“I have not taken anything off the table. Really. Honestly,” head coach Brian Kelly said, when asked why he wouldn’t play two quarterbacks. “If we go down the roster and look at the playmakers on offense, two of them are on the quarterback side.

“I’ve got to look at all of those and factor every one of them in. For me not to look at every single scenario possible as it relates to the quarterback position, I would not be smart as a football coach. We’ll look at every option and everything that’s available to us to put the best offense on the field. Everything is on the table.”

After spending the spring talking about finding a starter and disappointing one very good football player, this is a far more intriguing comment than maybe any of us will allow.

And why is that?

Maybe it’s the burn we still feel after spending an offseason wondering what the duo of Malik Zaire and Everett Golson could do after their dynamic-duo performance in the bowl win over LSU. Or maybe it’s because we just watched Urban Meyer—still a deity in the eyes of most Irish fans—turn his (regular season) offense into a huge disappointment as he mismanaged a depth chart that was three-deep entering last season and had Ezekiel Elliott in the backfield.

But if Kelly has truly backed away from the starter-backup concept and really is willing to play both quarterbacks, what this Notre Dame offense could look like is really an incredible proposition.

Is it Kizer between the 20s and Zaire in the red zone? Is it both guys on the field at once? Is it it a ham-and-egg combo like the near-perfect gameplan we saw against LSU? Or maybe the turbo-speed attack that Irish fans have been clamoring for since the day Kelly got to South Bend?

Both quarterbacks can run. Before Kizer became the team’s goal line and short yardage option, Zaire was ready to be a chain-mover as well and breakaway run threat as well. And gone are the days of worrying what happens when No. 1 goes down. As we saw last year—nothing changes.

Kelly’s certainly not afraid to make an unorthodox decision. Last offseason when he decided to bring Mike Sanford to town, much was made about the offensive coordinator title given to the young assistant, with Mike Denbrock “promoted” to associate head coach.

But that leadership trio went as smoothly as you could ask, taking the Irish offense to new heights, even while breaking in a quarterback who wasn’t accurate enough to hit water from a boat the spring before.

Given an entire offseason to figure out how best to utilize Zaire and Kizer, maybe there’s enough confidence atop the Notre Dame program to go out on that ledge again. Because while it’d certainly be a risk, game planning for both Kizer and Zaire would be a nightmare for opponents.

After day one, it all seems possible. And with Kelly growing more and more comfortable about the competition as it’s finally arrived, there doesn’t seem to be any sense of urgency.

“We don’t have to make a decision until they tell us only one quarterback can play,” Kelly said after the team’s opening practice at Culver Academies. “And that’s right up to Texas.”

Irish A-to-Z: Spencer Perry

Spencer Perry
Rivals / Blue & Gold
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A downhill safety who got to campus early, freshman Spencer Perry is another talented youngster looking to impact Notre Dame’s secondary. A Georgia native who played at the IMG Academy, Perry is another Autry Denson recruit, going into one of the premier programs in the Sunshine State and leaving with the team’s top running back and safety.

With legit size and good pedigree, Perry looks like a strong safety candidate who can come down into the box and run the alleys. After getting a taste of the defense this spring, he’ll enter a depth chart packed with young talent as he competes for playing time this fall.

 

SPENCER PERRY
6’2″, 204 lbs.
Freshman, No. 31, S

 

RECRUITING PROFILE

A three-star prospect, Perry was a one-time Florida commitment before flipping to Notre Dame after seeing campus. While he missed the majority of his senior season of high school with a shoulder injury, he was a well-regarded recruit with offers from Ohio State, Michigan, Clemson and Auburn as well.

Perry camped at Notre Dame and participated in the Irish Invasion, committing a week later after loving everything about the school—including the pitch he got from Todd Lyght.

 

FUTURE POTENTIAL

It was fellow freshman Devin Studstill who stole the headlines for his quick grasp of the defense, but Perry certainly doesn’t get penalized because he looked like an early-enrollee freshman who didn’t play most of his senior season in high school. Especially with the size and athleticism he possesses.

With Drue Tranquill, Avery Sebastian and a handful of other options on the back end, there’s no urgency for Perry to jump in and play, especially when he doesn’t profile as a free safety. That said, he should have a jump start on his fellow classmates, and that could pay dividends. With the offers Perry had before enrolling at Notre Dame, he’s a guy who should be better than a modest three-star ranking.

 

CRYSTAL BALL

I’m leaning towards a redshirt season for Perry, unless things go really wrong on the back end with injuries. While he could be a good special teams candidate, roster management might dictate terms here—giving him a chance to fight for playing time in the spring when Max Redfield and Avery Sebastian depart.

The real battle begins this spring, when Tranquill will be a senior and the majority of the safety position will all be in their first and second years of eligibility.

 

2016’s Irish A-to-Z
Josh Adams
Josh Barajas
Alex Bars
Asmar Bilal
Hunter Bivin
Grant Blankenship
Jonathan Bonner
Ian Book
Parker Boudreaux
Miles Boykin
Justin Brent
Devin Butler
Jimmy Byrne
Daniel Cage
Chase Claypool
Nick Coleman
Te’von Coney
Shaun Crawford
Scott Daly
Micah Dew-Treadway
Liam Eichenberg
Jalen Elliott
Nicco Feritta
Tarean Folston
Mark Harrell
Daelin Hayes
Jay Hayes
Tristen Hoge
Corey Holmes
Torii Hunter Jr.
Alizé Jones
Jamir Jones
Jarron Jones
Jonathan Jones
Tony Jones Jr.
Khalid Kareem
DeShone Kizer
Julian Love
Tyler Luatua
Cole Luke
Greer Martini
Jacob Matuska
Mike McGlinchey
Colin McGovern
Deon McIntosh
Javon McKinley
Pete Mokwuqh
John Montelus
D.J. Morgan
Nyles Morgan
Sam Mustipher
Quenton Nelson
Tyler Newsome
Adetokunbo Ogundeji
Julian Okwara
James Onwualu