Keith Arnold

Notre Dame v Syracuse
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Report: Grant Blankenship has enrolled at Oklahoma

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It appears that defensive end Grant Blankenship will continue his college football career at Oklahoma where he has enrolled, Sooners Illustrated reported. The rising junior defensive end will sit out the 2016 season, and has two seasons of eligibility remaining.

Blankenship’s status with the Notre Dame program has long been in rocky waters. He was suspended during the spring for a violation of team rules and his status was still unclear through summer school.

While his name was on the roster released by the Irish program as they opened camp, head coach Brian Kelly acknowledged that Blankenship was transferring and the team has been without the defensive end at Culver Academies.

At Oklahoma, Blankenship will be reunited with area recruiter Kerry Cooks. It was Cooks who helped land Blankenship out of The Colony High School in Texas, a four-star prospect who profiled as a 3-4 defensive end more so than an edge player in Brian VanGorder’s system.

Blankenship played sparingly as a sophomore after playing in 11 of the Irish’s 13 games as a freshman.

Camp highlights: Day Two

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More practice, more highlights. Definitely more fun that analyzing spring depth charts or working my way through the roster.

Let’s dig into these snaps—and see if we can get anything special out of the video. (Anybody else digging the slo-mo? Feels like we’re watching a 90s action movie.)

 

0:17 — Malik Zaire running with Tarean Folston and what looks like the No. 2 offense against the No. 1 defense. He throws one low-and-away to Nic Weishar who makes a tough catch in front of Nyles Morgan.

0:21 — Slo-mo DeShone Kizer, barking like Joe Kane from The Program. (If that’s Josh Anderson in the backfield, he’s likely telling a young freshman receiver where to line up.)

He throws a strike to Corey Holmes on a slant, underneath freshman Jonathan Jones (#45), with cornerback Nick Coleman (#24) and freshman safety Jalen Elliott (#21) giving chase. Special credit to Brandon Tiassum (#77) for chasing the fastest receiver on the Irish roster.

0:31 — Meet Quenton Nelson. He’s a bad dude, working against sophomore Elijah Taylor (#58) on one-on-one pass rush drills. Taylor’s not much of a match, but then again, that’s not his game.

0:38 — Senior Cole Luke had this one diagnosed before Miles Boykin (#81) made his break. He got a little handsy before fighting for the football like it was his all along. I even dig the extra swagger at the end.

0:47 — Oh so THAT’S the Jerry Tillery that gets everybody excited? The guy who can bend and get underneath a 6-foot-2 center (Sam Mustipher) even if he’s a haircut shy of 6-foot-7. Yes, he’s got to keep his feet if he wants to sack a quarterback. But it’s a solid rep by a young player we may all be selling a bit short.

0:54  Scott Booker, slo-mo coaching.

0:57Drue Tranquill running the cones. He’s healthy and projected as Notre Dame’s starting strong safety.

1:02 — I had to go to the roster and wonder who took No. 2, and then realized it was Dexter Williams. He’s galloping free in the Irish secondary, with Ashton White (#26) trying to chase him down. If Williams is the home run hitter we keep hearing about, they’re going to definitely find some snaps for him.

1:13 — Good vs. Good. That’s Mike McGlinchey and Isaac Rochell squaring off. Two very large men working on the edge, with Rochell trying to use some speed to get around the edge. Giving that rep to the Glinch.

1:16 — Want to get excited? Show me a rep where Canadian freshman freak Chase Claypool goes vertical, leaving Ashton White (his eyes playing the curl) in the dust. White does a nice job catching up, but can’t turn around, then Claypool finishes the catch to make it a 50-yard gain, not just a 15-yard flag.

 

Irish A-to-Z: Max Redfield

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)
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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.

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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