Trevor Ruhland 247
Tom Loy / Irish 247

Irish A-to-Z: Trevor Ruhland

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As a piece of depth at guard, Trevor Ruhland takes his redshirt off and steps into one of the most competitive position groups in America. With talent young and old battling for a job on the interior offensive line, Ruhland’s eligibility clock begins as he tries his best to get into the two-deep behind Quenton Nelson and a crowd at right guard.

An early target, offer and commitment to Harry Hiestand, there’s a lot to like about Ruhland. He competed for a state championship as two-way player and was praised as a whistle-to-whistle mauler who’ll add some toughness in the trenches.

We’ll see how quickly he can fit upstream to get onto the field.

 

TREVOR RUHLAND
6’3.5″, 300 lbs.
Sophomore, No. 57, OL

 

RECRUITING PROFILE

More of a regional recruit than a national target, Ruhland shut down his recruitment early, committing to Notre Dame well in advance of his senior season while also staying off the camp circuit. He was a first-team All-State and All-Area player, playing on both the offensive and defensive line a team that came within a field goal of a state title.

 

 

PLAYING CAREER

Freshman Season (2015): Did not see action, preserving a year of eligibility.

 

WHAT WE SAID LAST YEAR

Do I win something?

There are redshirt candidates and then there are redshirt guarantees. It sure feels like Ruhland is all but guaranteed to spend this season learning and in the weight room, likely one of two seasons where most of the reps he takes are on the practice field.

But as we look forward, Ruhland will be competing with a fairly large group of lineman to replace Steve Elmer after 2016 (and potentially Quenton Nelson if he shifts outside to tackle), and could also be a candidate to try snapping, potentially throwing his name into the hat of a fairly wide-open center battle once Nick Martin heads to the NFL.

 

FUTURE POTENTIAL

At this point, it’s too early to know if Ruhland is a guy who will slot in behind some really impressive talent up front or if he’ll ascend to the top of the depth chart. With just a few spring practices and the first days of fall camp, Ruhland is still finding out what type of player he can become.

As we look for clues, it’s worth pointing out that both developmental targets and five-star studs are succeeding on Harry Hiestand’s offensive line. For every lock like Quenton Nelson, there’s a Mike McGlinchey. While it’s taken Hunter Bivin four years to get to the starting lineup, a late offer like Nick Martin was a two-time captain.

Patience is the best plan for Ruhland. We’ll stick to that as our evaluation for now.

 

CRYSTAL BALL

With John Montelus back on the offensive line and shifting outside to right tackle in fall camp, Ruhland will be among the depth battling to get into the two-deep at guard. What looks like a three-man race at right guard likely means Colin McGovern could slide over to the left side behind Nelson, keeping Ruhland as a third-stringer, nothing to be upset about at this point.

There are opportunities coming—especially with Nelson capable of heading to the NFL after this season and other pieces coming and going. So I’m capping my expectations for Ruhland’s 2016 at a few mop-up time snaps, and maybe securing some special teams work.

 

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.
Max Redfield
Isaac Rochell

Irish A-to-Z: Isaac Rochell

SOUTH BEND, IN - SEPTEMBER 26:  Isaac Rochell #90 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish tackles Sekai Lindsay #35 of the Massachusetts Minutemen at Notre Dame Stadium on September 26, 2015 in South Bend, Indiana. Notre Dame defeated Umass 62-27.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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Isaac Rochell has quietly established himself as perhaps Notre Dame’s best front-seven defender. The goal of this final season? Make sure that impact isn’t all that quiet.

For Notre Dame’s defense to improve this season, Rochell needs to take over where Sheldon Day left off. That’s not just as a rock-solid block of granite against the run, but wreaking havoc in the opponents’ backfield. With the versatility to slide inside if needed, Rochell will earn his living based on this season.

 

ISAAC ROCHELL
6’3.5″, 290 lbs.
Senior, No. 90, DE

 

RECRUITING PROFILE

He wasn’t Stephon Tuitt, but was a first-team All-State player, turning down Alabama, Auburn, Georgia and several others to head to South Bend. Not too shabby.

A Top 150 player by every service, Rochell played in the Offense-Defense Bowl before heading to South Bend.

 

PLAYING CAREER

Freshman Season (2013): Saw action in 11 games, making 10 total tackles and five solo stops. Played season-best game against Air Force, making four tackles.

Sophomore Season (2014): Started all 13 games at defensive end, one of just three Irish defenders to start every game. His 39 tackles was third-best on the defensive line, he was second on the team with 7.5 TFLs and tallied 2.5 sacks.

Junior Season (2015): Started all 13 games, the leading tackler on the defensive line with 60 stops. His 7.5 TFLs was fourth-best while he also broke up two passes. PFF College ranked him as the team’s third-highest graded defender, behind only Sheldon Day and Jaylon Smith.

 

FUTURE POTENTIAL

Rochell is an NFL defender, capable of ascending up draft boards if he can find a pass rush move. At 290 pounds, he’s more than capable of sliding inside and disrupting things at the point of attack, while still serving as a perfect anchor at strong-side defensive end.

A workhorse these past two seasons, Rochell likely qualifies as a “championship-caliber” lineman, someone who the staff believes can dominate at the highest levels. If he’s able to add a half-dozen sacks—admittedly a big ask—he’s going to be a candidate for the team’s lineman of the year.

 

CRYSTAL BALL

I expect Rochell to lead the defensive line in tackles, TFLs and sacks, even if the last stat is something that’s more a reach than established trait. But as the most tenured front-seven defender on the roster, that’s the next step in his evolution.

Rochell will certainly anchor an Irish defense that’ll be harder to run against than the 2015 edition. It’s essentially lining up four defensive tackles across the front if Jay Hayes starts opposite Rochell.

But to play up to my lofty expectation, he’ll need to sack the quarterback and get to a dozen TFLs. That’s a high bar, but certainly not something he should shy away from.

 

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.
Max Redfield

 

 

Report: Grant Blankenship has enrolled at Oklahoma

Notre Dame v Syracuse
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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.