Notre Dame v Syracuse

Stanley, Smith and Redfield headline five Irish preseason All-Americans


College football staple Phil Steele released his 2015 Preseason All-American team on Monday. And with five Notre Dame players on his four-team squad, Steele is the first of the major preseason predictors who seem very bullish on the Irish.

The Irish were the only team in college football with three first-team All-Americans, with Ronnie Stanley, Jaylon Smith and Max Redfield selected to Steele’s first team. (Not a typo on Redfield.)

Joining them were third-team defensive tackle Sheldon Day and fourth-team cornerback KeiVarae Russell. Interestingly, a season after Will Fuller scored 15 touchdowns, he went unnamed on Steele’s list.

Ohio State led all schools with eight selections on Steele’s roster. Notre Dame will face off against four USC All-Americans in Cody Kessler (1st team), Max Tuerk (1st team), Su’a Cravens (2nd team) and Adoree Jackson. Pitt receiver Tyler Boyd received first-team mention while running back James Connor was named to the second team.

Stanford has a pair of All-Americans in Josh Garnett and Blake Martinez, while Temple linebacker Tyler Matakevich was named to the fourth team. So was Virginia safety Quin Blanding, whose 123 tackles as a freshman was almost double Redfield’s total of 68.

Expect a slew of preseason accolades to come this month, debate and talking points for the summer until they’re rendered completely worthless once the calendar hits September.


KeiVarae Russell takes to social media to announce his return

Oklahoma v Notre Dame

If a picture is worth a thousand words, KeiVarae Russell’s most recent post on Instagram is worth plenty more than that. The Notre Dame cornerback, who spent last school year serving a university suspension, has announced his return to the university via Instagram.



While his acceptance to re-enroll has been imminent for a while, Russell making things official solidifies a key component in the Irish secondary. Pairing Russell, an All-American candidate and lock-down cornerback, with rising junior Cole Luke gives the Irish defense a huge boost.

No word officially out of Notre Dame, but with Ishaq Williams heading to South Bend this weekend, the timing is right. So with his academic detour out of the way, Russell now has a summer to make up for lost time with his teammates before officially returning to the field in September.

Williams to return for summer school, football future unclear


Ishaq Williams‘ future at Notre Dame was thrown off course last August, when he and four teammates were caught up in an academic dishonesty case. Nine months later, the defensive end, a projected senior starter in 2014, appears to have some clarity on the school front, though his on-field future is still cloudy.

The South Bend Tribune’s Eric Hansen reports that Williams will be back on campus Monday to begin summer school. That means Williams’ re-admission into the university after a two-semester suspension appears to be complete.

What isn’t as certain is his return to the football field. With Notre Dame’s 85-man scholarship limit pushed to the brink, Williams return to Brian Kelly’s team—or his ability to be qualified academically to play—is still unclear.

While Kelly has spoken clearly about cornerback KeiVarae Russell’s return to both the field and university, Williams’ status is murkier. And without the details of what actually happened last August—student privacy laws and university policy have kept that under lock and key—it’s impossible to know what Williams’ situation actually is.

(Williams could be in a situation similar to the one that DaVaris Daniels reportedly found himself in, wanting to return to the football field, but unable to meet eligibility requirements after grades were adjusted.)

As Kelly himself pointed out in April, summer school could be part of the road back to eligibility, with his role on the team not necessarily solidified until fall camp.

“(There are) things that he’ll have to take care of in the summertime just to get the ball moving for his ability to be reinstated,” Kelly said back in April.

Making things even more interesting is news that Williams could potentially graduate from Notre Dame (something that’d likely take until the end of the fall semester) without playing for the Irish this fall. That scenario was thrown into the mix on Twitter, reportedly coming from a Brian Kelly talk to the ND Club of Miami.

That scenario sounds like it’d be a complete surprise to both Williams and his family. But with Williams’ eligibility clock technically still running last season, he has just this fall to complete his four seasons of on-field play.

The reality of the situation is that there isn’t necessarily a playbook for something this complicated, with too many variables for anything to be set in stone. A bursting-at-the-seams roster, a confusing eligibility situation and the process of readmission are all playing factors.

But getting Williams back on campus is the first step, and after a long layoff, that’s set to happen on Monday.


Come September, all eyes on Yoon

Photo Property of Boston Herald

On Signing Day, nobody wants to talk about the kicker. But come September, Notre Dame’s most important true freshman won’t be a five-star tight end or blue-chip cornerback, but rather kicker Justin Yoon.

With Kyle Brindza graduated, Brian Kelly and the Irish coaching staff are all but turning over the placekicking duties to Yoon. And the true freshman will have no choice but to sink or swim next season.

Our friends at Irish 247 went out to Massachusetts to check on the soon-to-be-enrolled newcomer. And after talking to both Yoon and his former prep coach Kevin MacDonald, lack of preparation won’t be what stops Yoon from succeeding.

“The fact that he practices so hard, he has no reason to doubt himself,” MacDonald told Irish 247. “Every kick he makes he practiced 1,000 times.”

The entire article is worth a read, as Yoon talks about the keys to his success, the concentration he demands and how he looks forward to kicking in front of the 81,000-and-change fans at Notre Dame Stadium.

Here’s video of Yoon’s practice work from earlier this week. After watching Brindza play a draw (right to left ball flight), Yoon looks to work the ball the opposite way.



Golson talks about transfer (though what he doesn’t say is more interesting)

Jameis Winston,Everett Golson

As he has from the beginning of this odyssey, Fox Sports’ Bruce Feldman has been out front on the Everett Golson transfer news. Releasing Golson’s original statement and getting the first comments out of the former Notre Dame quarterback, Feldman is back at it, talking with Golson about the thought process that led him to pick Florida State.

The quotes, as you may have guessed are quite interesting. As Golson trains in San Diego, interestingly still working with Irish slot receiver Amir Carlisle, it’s clear that the change to a different program is still one that takes getting used to.

“I’m still wearing Notre Dame stuff. It’s something that’s pretty crazy right now for me to adjust to, but I do think it was best for me,” Golson told Fox Sports. “I just needed a fresh start. It was me sitting down and thinking, ‘OK, where do I feel the most comfortable?’ It was nothing to knock Notre Dame. I just had to put myself in the best position possible.”

Finding that “best position possible” wasn’t easy.

Golson acknowledged that some of the SEC destinations were tougher to consider because of the conference bylaw that required a waiver process. He also talked about the idea of playing for Charlie Strong at Texas, a move that didn’t seem possible with the Irish opening up against the Longhorns to start the season.

“It was pretty awkward, but it was kind of expected. It would’ve been interesting to see Texas,” Golson told Fox Sports. They (Notre Dame) basically limited me to the schools that we wouldn’t play. I wasn’t really surprised by it.”

But those early reports that had Notre Dame over-zealously blocking scholarship opportunities didn’t turn out to be a reality. Golson actually appreciated how Notre Dame’s staff and compliance team helped him work his way through the process.

But Golson’s most interesting comments pertain to his new relationship with Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher. Here’s Golson’s initial reaction to meeting with the Florida State head coach.

“One of the things I was looking for in a coach was for him to be genuine,” Golson said. “What he’s built there at Florida State really sold itself before I started really looking. Actually sitting down and talking to him, I felt like he was gonna shoot me straight and he was a genuine guy. If you’re not doing so well, he’s gonna tell you, and if you are doing well, he’s gonna tell you that, too. I can really respect a guy like that.

“For me, it all started with him being genuine and for me to be able to (play) free again. I think that’s what I lost sight of last season. At the beginning of the season, I was playing free. I was having fun. Closer to the end of the season, it kinda came to feel like a burden.”

While Golson didn’t say a thing about his previous head coach in this statement, what he did say certainly tells the story. While there’s certainly a danger of reading too far into these comments, it’s hard not to wonder what Golson is saying about his past coach when he’s saying this about his new one.

And while he made it clear that being coached hard wasn’t an issue (Fisher has done that plenty, too) “playing free” was the goal. (Though it certainly feels a lot like how Golson played down the stretch, turning a hot start into a turnover-plagued mess as the Irish’s offensive leader couldn’t get out of his own way.)

Golson talked about the mistakes and 22 turnovers piling up, and how he plans on making sure that’s not the case in 2015.

“It was me just not taking care of the ball. It was me trying to do too much at times,” Golson told Feldman. “Not giving up on plays. Me trying to escape the pocket and not keeping two hands on the ball. Just being real careless. Lots of little detail stuff. And that costs us a little bit. At the end of the day what didn’t happen was me getting back to the fundamentals.”

In the end, while all parties involved have said the right thing—Golson included—it’s hard not to conclude that this split is mostly about Golson wanting a change of scenery. As someone who worked through significant adversity to earn his degree from Notre Dame, Golson certainly earned that opportunity.

So while it’s hard for certain Notre Dame fans to understand how a quarterback could walk away from a loaded depth chart and a strong returning roster to take a leap into the unknown, Golson has already done it.

Now it’s time for all parties to move on.