Keith Arnold

Brian Kelly

Notre Dame releases training camp schedule

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We are a little more than a week away from the start of the 2015 football season. Notre Dame released their training camp schedule on Wednesday, highlighting the key dates leading up to the season opener against Texas.

Brian Kelly will kick things off by addressing the media on August 6, before the Irish spend five days practicing at Culver Academies. The Irish will be off-campus for nearly a week before returning to South Bend on Wednesday, August 12 to start their work on the LaBar practice fields.

Media Day is scheduled for August 18, with an extended opportunity to talk with assistant coaches and key players. Kelly is also set to answer questions, and will be made available to local media after the team’s opening practice on Friday, August 7th, as well as a week later back on campus on Thursday the 13th.

The school year officially begins on Tuesday, August 25th, with the Irish holding 20 days of practice in the month of August before officially switching gears to game week preparations.

Irish A-to-Z: Colin McGovern

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Entering his third year in the program, offensive lineman Colin McGovern hasn’t found his way into the lineup. That’s the product of a depth chart filled with other talented options, as well as McGovern dealing with injuries and position switches as he looks to find his niche.

A long way removed from his highly-touted recruiting ranking, McGovern’s career is still far from being over. But as Harry Hiestand continues to bring in talent by the truckload, it’ll be up to McGovern this season to show his ability, putting him in line to make a move as he becomes an upperclassman.

Let’s take a closer look at the versatile offensive lineman.

 

COLIN MCGOVERN
6’4.5″, 315 lbs.
Junior, No. 62, OL

 

RECRUITING PROFILE

A hand-picked Harry Hiestand recruit, McGovern picked Notre Dame over offers from Alabama, Ohio State, Michigan, Nebraska, and a ton of other elite programs.

His star-rating varied based on the recruiting service, but McGovern looked the part of a national recruit that Notre Dame managed to pull out of Chicagoland. While he was recruited by some programs as a tackle, Notre Dame always saw him as a guard.

McGovern committed to Notre Dame the same day as classmate Hunter Bivin.

 

PLAYING CAREER

Freshman Season (2013): Did not see action.

Sophomore Season (2014): Played in two games as a reserve guard, seeing action against both Rice and Michigan.

 

WHAT WE SAID LAST YEAR

With Steve Elmer’s shift back inside and the emergence of Quenton Nelson, McGovern is still looking for his way into the mix.

It’s still likely too soon to see McGovern challenge for a starting job, but if injuries hit like they did last year, expect McGovern to be one of the players to get a call. Right now, you’ll likely see No. 62 playing offensive line on special teams, a nice transitional year before heading into stiff competition for Christian Lombard’s right guard job, the only spot that currently projects vacant in 2015.

McGovern is one of the top under-the-radar prospects on the team. His versatility and size should let him find the field in a utility role if necessary, but even if that doesn’t happen in 2014, the future looks very bright for McGovern.

 

FUTURE POTENTIAL

Every time I’ve seen footage of McGovern, I’ve liked what I saw. But at this point in his career—especially with the talent that’s in front of him—versatility might be the best thing that McGovern has going for him.

At guard, the next two seasons look fairly certain with Quenton Nelson and Steve Elmer locked into place. At tackle, Mike McGlinchey looks like a lock on the right side while Alex Bars is likely waiting in the very large wings of Ronnie Stanley.

If I’m reading the depth chart, I start snapping a football, knowing that the battle to replace Nick Martin starts this spring. And while three seasons of eligibility remaining is plenty of time to make a move, McGovern’s ceiling will likely be determined by how well he performs in camp, and if the staff believes he’s good enough to find a way into the lineup.

 

CRYSTAL BALL

Right now, the weak spot on Notre Dame’s offensive line is the depth at tackle and center. I’m not convinced that Hunter Bivin is the best option if someone goes down on the outside, and that’s a place where McGovern might be able to thrive.

Brian Kelly went out of his way to discuss McGovern this spring, praising both his size and ability, and talking about his opportunity to cross-train across the guard and tackle depth chart.

It’ll likely take someone going down for McGovern to get his chance, but if he has a strong camp, I get the feeling that he and Alex Bars will ascend to the key backups at tackle, while McGovern could also make a case for being a candidate to be sixth-or-seventh man.

 

THE 2015 IRISH A-to-Z
Josh Adams, RB
Josh Barajas, OLB
Nicky Baratti, S
Alex Bars, OL
Asmar Bilal, OLB
Hunter Bivin, OL
Grant Blankenship, DE
Jonathan Bonner, DE
Miles Boykin, WR
Justin Brent, WR
Greg Bryant, RB
Devin Butler, CB
Jimmy Byrne, OL
Daniel Cage, DL
Amir Carlisle, RB
Nick Coleman, DB
Te’von Coney, LB
Shaun Crawford, DB
Scott Daly, LS
Sheldon Day, DL
Michael Deeb, LB
Micah Dew-Treadway, DL
Steve Elmer, RG
Matthias Farley, DB
Nicco Fertitta, DB
Tarean Folston, RB
Will Fuller, WR
Jarrett Grace, LB
Jalen Guyton, WR
Mark Harrell, OL
Jay Hayes, DL
Mike Heuerman, TE
Kolin Hill, DE
Tristen Hoge, C
Corey Holmes, WR
Chase Hounshell, TE
Torii Hunter, Jr. WR
Alizé Jones, TE
Jarron Jones, DL
DeShone Kizer, QB
Tyler Luatua, TE
Cole Luke, CB
Nick Martin, C
Greer Martini, LB
Jacob Matuska, DL
Mike McGlinchey, OT

Irish A-to-Z: Mike McGlinchey

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Last preseason, Mike McGlinchey was the odd-man out along the offensive line, losing out on the opportunity to be the team’s starting right tackle. Entering 2015, he’s one of the key X factors that’ll determine whether or not Harry Hiestand’s offensive line is one of the elite units in the country.

McGlinchey was boxed out last fall when Steve Elmer started the year at right tackle after spending all spring at guard. And even after Elmer was kicked back inside after three games, McGlinchey stayed on the sidelines, with Hiestand and Brian Kelly picking Christian Lombard to play tackle over the first-year contributor, sliding Matt Hegarty in at center and Nick Martin over to left guard.

But Lombard’s bad back forced McGlinchey into the lineup against USC and LSU, and the young offensive lineman delivered. Building off that experience, the mega-talented prospect will have the opportunity to show so much more as he protects the blind side of left-handed quarterback Malik Zaire.

Let’s take a closer look at one of Notre Dame’s most intriguing players.

 

MIKE MCGLINCHEY
6’7.5″, 310 lbs.
Junior, No. 68, OT

 

RECRUITING PROFILE

A four-star prospect with some recruiting services seeing him as a Top 150 player. McGlinchey was a true projection-type recruit, and schools like Michigan, Penn State and Wisconsin were all trying to land the Philadelphia native.

If there was a prototype right tackle prospect, McGlinchey was it, and on Signing Day, Kelly was quick to praise him—while also wondering if he’d be a basketball player and almost a seven-footer by the time he was done growing into his frame in South Bend.

 

PLAYING CAREER

Freshman Season (2013): Did not see action.

Sophomore Season (2014): Played in all 13 games (predominantly on special teams) before replacing Christian Lombard at right tackle against USC. Started against LSU in the Music City Bowl.

 

WHAT WE SAID LAST YEAR

McGlinchey didn’t get the shot I thought he would get in 2014, though he proved why I was so bullish on him in the season’s final two games.

(I know, even a broken clock is right twice a day.)

McGlinchey is one of the few players where you can honestly say that the season hinges upon his ability. If McGlinchey can’t cut it at right tackle, a pretty significant domino-effect is going to happen. Steve Elmer will shift to right tackle, Conor Hanratty could be the next guard in, or guys like Matt Hegarty or Colin McGovern all of a sudden get an opportunity to play on the inside, taking away some of the depth that’s been so enviable.

At this point, it’s worth looking back at the offensive linemen Kelly has taken a shot on at a young age. First was a redshirt freshman from Indiana that was plugged in at left tackle from the beginning. It worked out okay for Zack Martin. Next was Lombard, who stepped in at right tackle in 2012, when Matt Romine had a fifth year available.

Ronnie Stanley more than proved his worth in a very impressive debut campaign last year. As did Steve Elmer, who played big minutes as a true freshman. That all bodes very well for McGlinchey, who has the size, length and athleticism to do some very impressive things at right tackle.

 

FUTURE POTENTIAL

There’s dazzling potential in McGlinchey, who has earned the praise of Kelly multiple times. Whether it’s for his quick feet, strong throwing arm or low-post game, it’s usually a good sign when a six-foot-eight offensive lineman is one of the team’s best athletes.

But looking good in the gym and being dominant on the football field are two different things. Even if the sample-size was small, doing great work against elite defensive lineman Leonard Williams and then the LSU front seven makes for a very bright future for a right tackle who should spend three years in the starting lineup.

 

CRYSTAL BALL

I’m all in on McGlinchey, who I think has a ceiling equal to Ronnie Stanley’s, who some are predicting (way too early, I might add) could be a candidate for the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. That’s high praise for a guy with exactly one start, but deserving when you consider all the tremendous attributes that come along with McGlinchey’s game.

But here’s what we don’t know: How quickly will McGlinchey get comfortable in the starting lineup? Because he’ll be protecting the blindside of a young quarterback, one who has a propensity to run. That could make McGlinchey susceptible to speed rushers—already tough enough when you’re long and inexperienced—and could keep him from locking in his mechanics, something that forced Elmer to slide inside.

There’s no room for a 6-foot-8 guard, and McGlinchey’s future (both in college and at the next level) is at tackle. So while it’s a bit of a reach, there’s elite potential in McGlinchey, and I’m expecting him to show it off this season, creating another stay-or-go scenario for an offensive lineman in 2016.

 

THE 2015 IRISH A-to-Z
Josh Adams, RB
Josh Barajas, OLB
Nicky Baratti, S
Alex Bars, OL
Asmar Bilal, OLB
Hunter Bivin, OL
Grant Blankenship, DE
Jonathan Bonner, DE
Miles Boykin, WR
Justin Brent, WR
Greg Bryant, RB
Devin Butler, CB
Jimmy Byrne, OL
Daniel Cage, DL
Amir Carlisle, RB
Nick Coleman, DB
Te’von Coney, LB
Shaun Crawford, DB
Scott Daly, LS
Sheldon Day, DL
Michael Deeb, LB
Micah Dew-Treadway, DL
Steve Elmer, RG
Matthias Farley, DB
Nicco Fertitta, DB
Tarean Folston, RB
Will Fuller, WR
Jarrett Grace, LB
Jalen Guyton, WR
Mark Harrell, OL
Jay Hayes, DL
Mike Heuerman, TE
Kolin Hill, DE
Tristen Hoge, C
Corey Holmes, WR
Chase Hounshell, TE
Torii Hunter, Jr. WR
Alizé Jones, TE
Jarron Jones, DL
DeShone Kizer, QB
Tyler Luatua, TE
Cole Luke, CB
Nick Martin, C
Greer Martini, LB
Jacob Matuska, DL

Irish A-to-Z: Jacob Matuska

Jacob Matuska, Reggie Bonnafon
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With Notre Dame’s defense falling apart, second-year player Jacob Matuska was thrown into the fire, earning playing time after the first (and most of the second) line of defense went down. While it wasn’t always pretty, Matuska held his own, with the Irish coaching staff hoping that the rising junior takes more good than bad from the experience.

Recruited as a stout-edge player in a 3-4 system by Bob Diaco, Matuska’s up to 295 pounds, the kind of heft you want at defensive tackle in Brian VanGorder’s system. Returning as depth behind some veteran talent, let’s take a closer look at how Matuska should fare a season after learning on the fly.

 

JACOB MATUSKA
6’4.5″, 295 lbs.
Junior, No. 89, DL

 

RECRUITING PROFILE

An early target and commitment for Notre Dame, Matuska wasn’t a highly-rated player, but did have offers from Michigan and Oklahoma.

He played a ton of tight end in high school, but Notre Dame always saw him as a defensive line prospect.

 

PLAYING CAREER

Freshman Season (2013): Did not see action.

Sophomore Season (2014): Played in seven games, starting his first against USC. Saw the majority of his snaps in the season’s final three games, forced into action after injuries to Sheldon Day, Jarron Jones and Daniel Cage. Had five tackles against Louisville including a sack. Had six total tackles on the season.

 

WHAT WE SAID LAST YEAR

Matuska made the transition to defensive tackle not end, and was forced onto the field when everybody else got injured.

A profile player in Notre Dame’s last defensive system, Matuska will succeed in Brian VanGorder’s defense if he can rush the passer or make the transition to defensive tackle. Another place to watch Matuska is on offense — at the very least he could be the in-line blocker that doesn’t necessarily exist behind Ben Koyack yet. (Interestingly enough, Matuska’s wearing No. 89, an eligible jersey number.)

It’s hard to get a clear picture of Matuska the football player when we haven’t seen him yet. With fall camp starting in less than two weeks, we’ll see quickly if he’s in VanGorder’s 2014 plans or not.

 

FUTURE POTENTIAL

At his absolute best, Matuska still feels like a piece of the puzzle. That’s not a knock on a defensive lineman who has all the size and length you desire, but rather the cumulative effect of recruiting the trenches with recruits who aren’t necessarily blue-chippers.

Matuska struggled (understandably) at times, asked to step into a starting lineup that resembled a scout team late in the year. That jump into live action will either serve as a spring board or a brief moment in the sun, a depth-chart backup doing his best to help the unit win football games.

With a fifth-year available, Matuska’s future in South Bend will be reliant on more forward progress. So the clearest picture of his role in the defense will likely be once Sheldon Day and Jarron Jones are gone.

 

CRYSTAL BALL

Matuska still feels like an emergency option to me, though he’ll hardly be as green as the guy we saw learning on the fly last season. Give him credit for a nice performance against Louisville, though a stinger in his shoulder robbed him of performing better moving forward, not exactly great luck considering he was still drinking from the fire hydrant.

But if you’re looking for a datapoint that shows how far this program has come since the Weis era, Matuska certainly can be one. Notre Dame didn’t have 295-pound defensive tackles on their third string back then, they were starting.

That doesn’t look like a reality for Matuska unless things go haywire. And even then, he’ll have to compete with Jerry Tillery, Jay Hayes, Daniel Cage and Peter Mokwuah to get on the field.

 

THE 2015 IRISH A-to-Z
Josh Adams, RB
Josh Barajas, OLB
Nicky Baratti, S
Alex Bars, OL
Asmar Bilal, OLB
Hunter Bivin, OL
Grant Blankenship, DE
Jonathan Bonner, DE
Miles Boykin, WR
Justin Brent, WR
Greg Bryant, RB
Devin Butler, CB
Jimmy Byrne, OL
Daniel Cage, DL
Amir Carlisle, RB
Nick Coleman, DB
Te’von Coney, LB
Shaun Crawford, DB
Scott Daly, LS
Sheldon Day, DL
Michael Deeb, LB
Micah Dew-Treadway, DL
Steve Elmer, RG
Matthias Farley, DB
Nicco Fertitta, DB
Tarean Folston, RB
Will Fuller, WR
Jarrett Grace, LB
Jalen Guyton, WR
Mark Harrell, OL
Jay Hayes, DL
Mike Heuerman, TE
Kolin Hill, DE
Tristen Hoge, C
Corey Holmes, WR
Chase Hounshell, TE
Torii Hunter, Jr. WR
Alizé Jones, TE
Jarron Jones, DL
DeShone Kizer, QB
Tyler Luatua, TE
Cole Luke, CB
Nick Martin, C
Greer Martini, LB

Irish A-to-Z: Greer Martini

Brandon Radcliff, Greer Martini
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The first recruit to join the 2014 recruiting class, Greer Martini may have been envisioned as a 3-4 linebacker in Bob Diaco’s scheme, but he very quickly showed he could play anywhere the rebooted Irish defense needed him. While he wasn’t the highest-ranked recruit (likely impacted by pledging his commitment nearly two years early), Martini showed himself to be a key piece of depth, especially with bodies falling left and right as Brian VanGorder’s defense imploded.

Heading into 2015, Martini’s path to the field looks like a crowded one. But his versatility—not to mention power and athleticism that is unique for the position—makes him a capable contributor at a number of linebacker spots.

As the Irish defense evolves in year two of the VanGorder era, let’s see where Martini fits in.

 

GREER MARTINI
6’2.5″, 240 lbs.
Sophomore, No. 48, LB

 

RECRUITING PROFILE

A three-star prospect who didn’t find a place on any Top 250 lists, Martini still had offers from Maryland, N.C. State and Virginia Tech when he committed to Notre Dame after his sophomore season. Consider the RKG mold when you look at Martini, something Brian Kelly confirmed on Signing Day.

“Greer Martini is one of the smarter defensive players we signed,” Kelly said. “He’s a really good player, and he’s a really good leader, and he’ll be a very good linebacker for us here at Notre Dame and will also be a guy that makes others around him better.”

 

PLAYING CAREER

Freshman Season (2014): Played in all 13 games, starting against Navy and USC. One of five true freshmen to notch at least 12 tackles. Had 26 tackles, two TFLs and a sack against Louisville. A season-high nine tackles against Navy.

 

WHAT WE SAID LAST YEAR

Martini not only played in 2014, he started two games. Not too many people saw that happening, me included.

If it weren’t for the uncertainty at linebacker, I’d have called Martini an absolute lock to redshirt. But with Jarrett Grace’s return still uncertain, and a player like Michael Deeb not making a move during spring practice, who’s to say that Martini can’t be a surprising freshman who picks things up quickly and finds his way onto the field.

In all likelihood, if Martini does see the field, it’s on special teams. He’s the combination of speed and power that can help Scott Booker’s wayward coverage teams. But we thought that about Deeb last year and he spent the year on the sidelines.

Neither Prosise nor Randolph saw the field as freshmen, taking an extra calendar year to get up to the speed of college football. My hunch says that’s going to happen with their former Woodberry Forest teammate, who will jump into competition in the spring.

 

FUTURE POTENTIAL

Martini looks a lot like Dan Fox to me. A nice sized athlete who can move sideline to sideline, very much an interior linebacker built for today’s game. (Newsflash: Fox is playing in the NFL right now, in season two as an undrafted free agent for the New York Giants.) Unlike Fox, Martini is playing in a 4-3 scheme, and competing with fleet-footed linebackers like James Onwualu and Jaylon Smith for playing time.

Martini moved around the Irish defense this spring, spending some time at the strongside spot as a potential big-bodied replacement for Onwualu. He’ll also have a chance to provide depth at the Will spot, with his 240-pound frame capable of delivering a blow and holding his own in the trenches.

There will be better looking football players on the roster for as long as Martini is on campus. But this is a productive player, and one who very quickly showed himself to be trusted by this coaching staff.

 

CRYSTAL BALL

Expect to see Martini do more of the little things for the Irish in 2015. He very quickly established himself as a trusted freshman. He was the first rookie to see the field in his class. He also managed to appear in all 13 games, with two starts another indicator that he caught on to the defense quickly—while also showing special teams value.

That value will make him a fixture on Scott Booker’s run units. And Martini will also see plenty of playing time against the option. With run-powered attacks coming against Navy, Georgia Tech (and likely Boston College), Martini will be an in-the-trenches type, capable of taking Onwualu off the field, and also sliding inside if needed. Martini’s nine tackles as a true freshman against Navy triggerman extraordinaire Keenan Reynolds is probably one of the more overlooked performances of the season.

I like underdogs and have always liked Martini. So while most looked at this freshman class of linebackers and wonder how long it’ll take them to jump the line, I see Martini as a key contributor and potential starter in the future.

 

THE 2015 IRISH A-to-Z
Josh Adams, RB
Josh Barajas, OLB
Nicky Baratti, S
Alex Bars, OL
Asmar Bilal, OLB
Hunter Bivin, OL
Grant Blankenship, DE
Jonathan Bonner, DE
Miles Boykin, WR
Justin Brent, WR
Greg Bryant, RB
Devin Butler, CB
Jimmy Byrne, OL
Daniel Cage, DL
Amir Carlisle, RB
Nick Coleman, DB
Te’von Coney, LB
Shaun Crawford, DB
Scott Daly, LS
Sheldon Day, DL
Michael Deeb, LB
Micah Dew-Treadway, DL
Steve Elmer, RG
Matthias Farley, DB
Nicco Fertitta, DB
Tarean Folston, RB
Will Fuller, WR
Jarrett Grace, LB
Jalen Guyton, WR
Mark Harrell, OL
Jay Hayes, DL
Mike Heuerman, TE
Kolin Hill, DE
Tristen Hoge, C
Corey Holmes, WR
Chase Hounshell, TE
Torii Hunter, Jr. WR
Alizé Jones, TE
Jarron Jones, DL
DeShone Kizer, QB
Tyler Luatua, TE
Cole Luke, CB
Nick Martin, C