Michigan v Notre Dame

Competition continues as camp settles in


With the trip to Culver complete, Notre Dame enters the dog days of training camp. More than a week in, there are no restrictions on the football team, so this week featured two-a-days, full pads, and some intense competition as the depth chart begins to shake out.

Brian Kelly caught up with the media after practice on Thursday, and from his comments, it sounds like we can start to make some assumptions.


C.J. Prosise and Tarean Folston are legitimately battling for No. 1 reps. 

All that flowery talk about C.J. Prosise this spring? Sounds like it’s legit. Notre Dame’s converted wide receiver is giving incumbent Tarean Folston a run for his money, taking first-team reps and making it appear that there’s a legit competition for the starting job. So much so that Kelly has all but thrown out the depth chart.

“I think we’re going to keep that as a very competitive situation and keep pushing them both. There’s no depth chart there right now,” Kelly explained. “You get a good practice on you and you’ve worked hard, you’re taking first-team reps. If you have a subpar practice based on the standards we’ve set, you’re not taking first-team reps.

“It’s a very competitive situation, very fluid in that sense. It’s going to be competitive each and every week.”

For those who are skeptical that Kelly would be willing to make a move like that so quickly into Prosise’s tenure at running back, just look back to 2012. Converted wide receiver Theo Riddick usurped Cierre Wood as the team’s go-to tailback, even if statistically it didn’t make a ton of sense.

Of course, there’s a lot of time between now and Texas. And with just two legitimate options at tailback, both guys are going to play. So while I still think this is Folston’s job, it appears that Prosise is every bit as good as advertised.


So far, so good for Justin Yoon. 

Wondering how freshman kicker Justin Yoon is acclimating to life in college football? Perfectly. Literally, the young kicker hasn’t missed a field goal attempt yet.

“Charting right now he’s 18-for-18 on kicks. He’s 9-for-9 between the 30-and 39- (yard line). We’re going to stretch him out a little bit tomorrow. He’s 4-for-4 from  40 to 49. He hasn’t missed a kick yet. His operation is outstanding.”

Of course, none of that will matter when he jogs onto the field against Texas needing to put points on the board. But Kelly praised two very important pieces of the puzzle when talking about his young kicker. First, his operation speed. Yoon gets to the ball quickly, very important when you’re dealing with block attempts. Second, he praised his technique—Yoon’s got a relatively simple stroke that allows him to still make a kick, even if he slightly mishits it.

Both Yoon and redshirt freshman Tyler Newsome have been kicking the ball “off the charts” so far in camp. It doesn’t mean anything when it comes to success on Saturday, but you’d certainly rather have positive data points with your young specialists than balls shanking left and right.


Greg Bryant? Kelly has no idea what’s happening either. 

The bad news? Greg Bryant hasn’t talked with his head coach about the decision to head to junior college and play football this fall. The good news? Kelly hasn’t closed any door on Bryant returning to South Bend, even if he spends a year in Florida attending junior college.

“I want Greg back here if he wants a Notre Dame degree and if he is committed to a Notre Dame education,” Kelly said. “Obviously from what I’m hearing, that’s not what he’s interested. I think he’s interested in playing football. At Notre Dame you have to do both and you have to be committed to an education and playing football.”

That alone sounds pretty declarative, but then again—Kelly hasn’t spoken with Bryant. (Per an Irish Illustrated tweet from Pete Sampson, his father had no clue Greg was going to junior college until an ESPN reporter called him.)

But the current decision-making that Bryant is displaying doesn’t necessarily mean his former head coach has given up on him.

“I love Greg. He’s a great kid. It seems like from what I’m hearing is that he’s choosing to go,” Kelly said. “But I have not spoken to Greg. It’s purely the speculative version of it.”


The arrow is pointing up for Nic Weishar. 

Another day, another glowing report for rising sophomore tight end Nic Weishar. With Durham Smythe nursing a hamstring injury and Alize Jones slowed for a day or two more, Weishar was the beneficiary of extra reps, and the 6-foot-4, 241-pounder showed some of the ball skills that made him a record-setting pass catcher in high school.

Kelly talked about the improvements Weishar made over the past calendar year, and what’s changed since his redshirt season.

“We knew he was a pass catcher. He was prolific in high school. He caught everything. I think in the state championship game he had a breakout, record-setting performance. We knew his ability to catch the football was there,” Kelly explained. “It was in-line blocking that was going to be the question and whether he could put on the weight necessary to compete right away.  He had a terrific offseason and putting on weight and getting stronger in the weight room. He’s still got a ways to go, but that coupled with the toughness and resolve, he’s put himself right in the mix there to play a lot of snaps.”

Weishar looks like a viable red zone target, and that’s where he showed best, according to multiple reports from practice. Kelly even mentioned holding Weishar back on a few drills, if only to protect him from doing too much with the depth chart down to just two guys right now.


Jaylon Smith isn’t bad, either. 

This seems to be a good sign that Jaylon Smith is taking things to the next level during fall camp.

“Jaylon Smith is remarkable in terms of what he’s doing on the field. He is on his game,” Kelly said. “It’s just remarkable the things he’s doing right now.”

Kelly described in detail Smith’s superior athleticism, talking about Smith’s ability to play close to the line of scrimmage, then diagnose a bootleg pass. Smith went from being aggressive in run support to getting underneath a wide receiver nearly 20 yards down field, taking away a key pass route.

Those are some of the things that make NFL scouts drool. And you’ve got to think Smith is benefitting from the return of Joe Schmidt, but also the relentless competitive energy that KeiVarae Russell shows.


Isaac Rochell going into Beast Mode. 

We heard Brian Kelly call Isaac Rochell a beast last training camp, seemingly the only guy who wasn’t worried about the young player’s ability to step in for Ishaq Williams at defensive end. Kelly doubled down on those comments yesterday, and it’s hard not to get excited about the prospect of Rochell doing even more in 2015.

“Isaac Rochell is a beast. He is a beast. If he continues to play at this level, he’s virtually unblockable on a 1-on-1 situation,” Kelly said. “Our guys have a very difficult time blocking him. He’s faster, stronger. He’s just an outstanding player.”

Walk-on Josh Anderson awarded scholarship for 2015 season


Heading into fall camp, it looked like Notre Dame was still looking for a way to get under the 85-man limit. But after transfers and departures, the Irish football program managed to find itself was a scholarship to spare. The beneficiary? Walk-on running back Josh Anderson.

On Thursday morning, Anderson was awarded a scholarship by head coach Brian Kelly, putting the 5-foot-9 senior’s tuition tab on the program.

Already used as the team’s runway model to show-off the Shamrock Series uniform, Kelly took the opportunity to also share with the team that he’d be awarding Anderson for his hard work.

Take a look at the moment it happened:



Anderson has been with the team since 2012. He was a two-year letter winner at Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks, California, where freshman CJ Sanders and former quarterback Dayne Crist graduated.

Irish A-to-Z: Jerry Tillery

Tom Loy, 247 Sports

Few freshmen in recent memory have earned as much advanced buzz as defensive tackle Jerry Tillery. The early-enrollee wowed during spring football, benefitting greatly from downtime taken by the starting duo of Sheldon Day and Jarron Jones. Even as Notre Dame’s staff has worked to restock the front four depth chart, Tillery quickly moved to the front of the line, an anomaly for a first year player, especially one that should’ve been in high school during his first 15 practices.

But Tillery’s not your average freshman. At nearly six-foot-seven and already over 300-well-sculpted pounds, he’s got the body of an upperclassman and the skill set of a guy playing football on Sundays. As a student, Tillery already ventured to South Africa on a study-abroad program and started a yoga group in his dorm.

With great expectations on his shoulders, let’s take a look at Notre Dame’s treasured freshman.


6’6.5″, 305 lbs.
Freshman, No. 99, DL



A U.S. Army All-American, Tillery was a blue-chip left tackle prospect, who profiled as a Top 100-150 player depending on the service. Even though he committed to Notre Dame very early in the process (a full summer ahead of time), Tillery was heavily courted by LSU and Les Miles, and took his recruiting visits, checking out Texas A&M, LSU… and Dartmouth.

Tillery stuck with Notre Dame and enrolled early, a recruiting battle that never came to be.



Not often does Brian Kelly rave about a freshman. And his comments this spring praising Tillery and talking about his singular talent and knowledge base had Irish fans thinking they have the next great defensive lineman on campus.

That’s a far cry from those who thought Notre Dame’s staff was merely entertaining their prized recruit by letting him try things along the defensive line before shifting back to offensive tackle. Tillery essentially spent spring working with the No. 1 defense, winning just as many battles as he lost, a rarity for a first-year competitor and early enrollee.

At this point, sky high probably doesn’t cover Tillery’s potential. And while I’m fully aware that his stock might be artificially high right now, let’s just say it: Irish fans should expect to get three seasons out of Tillery before the NFL Watch begins.



At this point, I expect Tillery to play from day one, and to be the first defensive tackle on the field after Day and Jones. From there, who knows? What’s a baseline productivity for a first-year player who isn’t an edge pass rusher? Especially considering Stephon Tuitt had a mostly anonymous freshman season and Tillery is a different beast than Aaron Lynch, Notre Dame’s last freshman phenom. (That’s a very good thing, it turns out.)

The head on Tillery’s shoulders is perhaps the biggest asset the freshman has. And that’s saying quite a bit when you’re already built like Albert Haynesworth.

It’s hard not to go over the top when discussing Tillery, especially when we haven’t had an on-field reminder that he’s a true freshman. But I’m setting the expectations for Tillery high—call it 6.0 TFLs—knowing that he’s playing behind an established duo and that number should earn him freshman All-American honors.


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
Colin McGovern, OL
Peter Mokwuah, DL
John Montelus, OL
Nyles Morgan, LB
Sam Mustipher, OL
Quenton Nelson, OL
Tyler Newsome, P
Romeo Okwara, DE
James Onwualu, LB
C.J. Prosise, WR/RB
Doug Randolph, LB/DE
Max Redfield, S
Corey Robinson, WR
Trevor Ruhland, OL
CJ Sanders, WR
Joe Schmidt, LB
Avery Sebastian, S
Elijah Shumate, S
Jaylon Smith, LB
Durham Smythe, TE
Equanimeous St. Brown, WR
Ronnie Stanley, LT
Elijah Taylor, DL
Brandon Tiassum, DL


Notre Dame reveals green Shamrock Series uniforms

Shamrock Series

Notre Dame revealed their Shamrock Series uniforms for the November date against Boston College in Fenway Park. And as you’d expect, it sparked quite an online discussion from people who debate and discuss things like alternate uniforms.

Designed by Under Armour and overseen by Notre Dame equipment guru Ryan Grooms, the Irish will be donning all-green uniforms with a gold helmet adorned with the traditional leprechaun logo head. As you’d expect, there’s a ton of detailing—including 11 stripes for Notre Dame’s 11 national titles—and a few other flourishes.

Here are the Tweets that went wide:


And here’s the players’ reaction to seeing what they’d be wearing under the Green Monster.

(So save it if you don’t like them. It sure seems like the guys do.)


Looking closely, you can see some of the intricate detailing on the helmet, which includes a two-toned face mask and color on the leprechaun head that’s laid on top of the mirrored gold helmet. Boston College will also be wearing a throwback look, likely honoring NBC color man Doug Flutie as they turn back the clock to their Hail Mary Cotton Bowl victory.


Because we’re going all in on describing this fancy get-up, here’s running back-turned model Josh Anderson putting the uniform on today, and ND Sports Blogger Laura Thomas showing us some finer details.


Back to our regularly scheduled programming, but in short — a very nice effort for the Shamrock Series. (Be thankful you don’t have to be a UCLA fan this morning. Woof.)

Done in South Bend? Greg Bryant reportedly lands at Florida Juco

Brian Kelly

Notre Dame’s ineligible running back Greg Bryant looks to still be playing football this fall. And that could mean the end of his time in South Bend.

A tweet from an assistant coach at ASA College in Miami got the internet humming as it appears that Bryant will spend the fall semester in his home state, taking classes at a local college while also playing for the only junior college program in Florida.

Here’s the tweet that set-off a crazy few minutes:

Blue & Gold’s Andrew Ivins was the first to follow that up, reporting that Bryant has enrolled in classes, and also joined team meetings. Yet what that means for his future in South Bend remains to be seen.

Irish Illustrated’s Pete Sampson has been all over the Bryant story, communicating with the running back’s father, who stated very clearly that he wants his son to return to South Bend and finish what he started. Brian Kelly said he was open to that scenario last week, especially if Bryant was willing to buy in as both a student and football player.

The situation isn’t unprecedented. Quarterback Nate Montana left Notre Dame voluntarily, seeking out playing time at Pasadena City College after being buried on the Irish depth chart. He returned in time for spring practice, and played sparingly in Kelly’s first season, serving as a backup to Dayne Crist before Tommy Rees ascended to the starting job after Crist’s season-ending knee injury.

The connectivity between the ASA program and Notre Dame? Sampson points out their head coach is Ernest Jones, a long-time Brian Kelly assistant who spent time at Notre Dame in an off-field role. Jones was briefly on Bob Diaco’s staff before he resigned from position after he created a firestorm with comments about religion being center stage in the Huskies program.

Up for debate is the timing of Bryant’s return—or whether it’s possible. Ivins mentioned that Bryant was hoping to earn an associate’s degree. Another source mentioned that Bryant would need to spend an entire year at the college, meaning no return for spring semester and practice.

Whatever the case, you couldn’t ask for a better on-field situation for Bryant. Enrolling at ASA allows him to play football, especially for a head coach who’ll likely be running an offensive system similar to the one the Irish utilized. But whether that means he—or Kelly—have closed the door on a potential return to Notre Dame is up for debate. Talking to various people around the program, it feels like a 50-50 proposition.


Brian Kelly will likely comment on this when he’s made available to the media tomorrow, continuing to make a major media story out of Notre Dame’s third-string running back.

Stay tuned.