Notre Dame will have 16 former Irish football players returning to campus to take part in their Pro Day on March 31. After having the second-most players in Indianapolis at the annual NFL Scouting combine, expect the NFL to descend on South Bend as the Irish have a handful of prospects capable of being early-round selections.
As mentioned last week, Everett Golson will be back in South Bend, with Notre Dame confirming the former Irish quarterback will throw to his old teammates in his most important audition for NFL teams. Golson played out his eligibility for Florida State but wasn’t invited to the combine.
Also returning to campus is former Irish safety Eilar Hardy. Hardy started 13 games for Bowling Green last season, finishing fourth on the team with 82 tackles while also chipping in two interceptions.
Here’s the entire list of participants:
Of note, Chris Brown was a late scratch at the combine, choosing not to test. He’s likely to put together some very impressive numbers to go along with a very solid senior season. KeiVarae Russell will also test for the first time, sitting out in Indianapolis as his broken leg and stress fracture continued to heal. Both expect to open some eyes.
Amir Carlisle, Matthias Farley and Jarrett Grace will also get their first chance to impress an NFL team. Farley has been training with former Irish linebacker Kerry Neal in Chicago, working alongside C.J. Prosise and Brown to prep. Expect to see a leaned down Farley, who played last season at 210 pounds but will likely be closer to 190 by the end of the month. We’ll get to see Ishaq Williams on a football field again as well, the former Irish defensive end hoping to resurrect his football career after two seasons away.
Pro Day will also likely be an important time for Jaylon Smith. After NFL teams examined Smith in Indianapolis, they’ll come back roughly six weeks later to see the progress he’s made.
Think DeShone Kizer, Malik Zaire and Brandon Wimbush hit up Cancun or Panama City Beach for spring break? Think again.
Notre Dame’s talented three-deep each hit the road during the university’s spring break, but all three went to work with quarterback coaches as they prepare for a very important spring practice. IrishSportsDaily.com’s Matt Freeman has the scoop on the travel plans($), reporting that Zaire went to Arizona to train with Dennis Gile at The Quarterback Academy while Kizer and Wimbush are in San Diego working with George Whitfield.
Zaire stuck around in Arizona after the Fiesta Bowl to spend some time with Gile, clearly ready to do battle this spring after recovering from his broken ankle. Kizer follows Everett Golson’s footsteps from South Bend to San Diego, training with Whitfield after a successful debut campaign, taking over for Zaire in the season’s second week.
Social Media gave us our first look at workouts:
Wimbush traveling to San Diego is a nice addition. While head coach Brian Kelly talked publicly about the hope to redshirt Wimbush and get back the year of eligibility he had to use in 2015, the rising sophomore has the raw talent and tools to be a dynamic player. Putting the work in and traveling on his own dime to San Diego to work with Whitfield shows that he’s ready to make the investment in his own future.
Notre Dame opens up spring practice on March 16th.
Earlier this week, Mother Nature tried to keep spring football off the front burner with a dusting of snow in South Bend. But that didn’t stop Brian Kelly from taking his team outside for their annual Camp Kelly workouts.
Our friends at Fighting Irish Media and UND.com put together a nice video capturing the workouts. There’s plenty to get excited about—mostly that football is less than two weeks away.
One of the big questions when Notre Dame takes to the field to start spring practice was who would be filling the shoes of left tackle Ronnie Stanley. It appears left guard Quenton Nelson may have supplied an answer a few weeks early.
Nelson hinted via social media that starting right tackle Mike McGlinchey was flipping to the left side of the line, finding a new home next to Nelson along the line of scrimmage. That could be the first move along a new-look offensive line as the Irish offense reboots this spring, needing to replace a handful of key contributors as they also kick-start another quarterback battle.
If McGlinchey is indeed moving, that means three new starters will be lining up next to each other as Nick Martin, Steve Elmer and McGlinchey’s positions are all now vacant. We’ve walked through the candidates for starting jobs, but locking in the left side of the line makes complete sense. Remember, in past years Notre Dame leaned heavily on the combo of Zack Martin and Chris Watt, and pairing two mauling starters like McGlinchey and Nelson could give the Irish a similar advantage—especially in the run game.
McGlinchey’s size and power were perfect prototypes for right tackle. They’re just as useful on the left side, with the wildcard being Malik Zaire‘s lefty throwing arm. The move also follows the trend of Stanley starting his career at right tackle then flipping to the left side once the starting job opened up.
The candidates for the starting center job appear to be Sam Mustipher and Tristen Hoge. From there, it gets murky. Alex Bars, who I assumed had a chance to be the starter at left tackle, could now be locked in on the right side. Then again, he could be a candidate to start at guard as well, where he was backing up Nelson last season.
There is no shortage of talent along the offensive line, with veterans like Colin McGovern or Hunter Bivin capable of stepping in or a true freshman like Tommy Kraemer a summer wildcard. While there is no rush to finalize a starting five, the news that McGlinchey will take over the left tackle spot helps bring some clarity to a position with three question marks remaining.
Chase Hounshell channeled his inner Tommy Boy when taking to Twitter to announce his decision to play another year of college football.
“Going to college for six years isn’t just for doctors anymore,” the defensive lineman turned tight end quipped.
After shoulder injuries robbed Hounshell of multiple seasons of competition, the Ohio native has been granted, and will pursue, a sixth-year of eligibility. He just won’t be doing it at Notre Dame.
Hounshell played last season at tight end for the Irish, serving as an in-line blocker while reeling in one catch on the season. He essentially talked his way back onto the team after a meeting with Brian Kelly, transitioning last spring to tight end with no guarantee of a scholarship come fall. But the season was enough to help the Irish and essentially reboot Hounshell’s playing career, taking almost 200 snaps at tight end.
Hounshell hasn’t decided where he’ll play next season, giving a quote to IrishSportsDaily.com:
“I have received my release from Notre Dame and I will be taking visits to transfer for the upcoming season,” Hounshell told Matt Freeman of ISD.
Notre Dame’s tight end depth chart with feature Durham Smythe, Nic Weishar and Alizé Jones in 2016, as rising junior Tyler Luatua has transferred to BYU.