GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 01:  Wide receiver Michael Thomas #3 of the Ohio State Buckeyes runs with the ball as Nick Watkins #21 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish attempts to make a tackle during the first quarter of the BattleFrog Fiesta Bowl at the University of Phoenix Stadium on January 1, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona. Buckeyes won 44-28. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
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Dew-Treadway, Watkins to miss extended time

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Notre Dame’s defensive depth took a hit this week as Micah Dew-Treadway and Nick Watkins both underwent surgical procedures. Dew-Treadway fractured his foot and is expected to miss eight weeks while Watkins had another surgery to help speed up his recovery from a broken arm.

Head coach Brian Kelly gave the injury updates after Thursday’s practice, Notre Dame’s first day back in South Bend after opening in Culver, Indiana.

Dew-Treadway wasn’t projected as part of the two-deep as he begins his second season in the program. But the additional surgery for Watkins is a setback for a player who was expected to compete for a starting job across from Cole Luke.

“Nick Watkins had a procedure to stimulate bone growth,” Kelly explained. “We’re hopeful that this procedure, which is you know a bit of an aggressive procedure, does the trick. We’re very hopeful that it will.”

With a timetable of four weeks, the Dallas native doesn’t appear to be on schedule to face off against Texas. But this staff clearly believes he’ll be a contributor on this defense, capable of winning the starting job when he’s back healthy.

Until then, young players will step into the role. Shaun Crawford and Nick Coleman appear to be the first candidates, with Crawford sliding inside to nickel. Ashton White also is having a strong camp after redshirting last season. True freshman Donte Vaughn will also likely be activated, a 6-foot-2 cover cornerback with a skill-set that’s unique on the roster.

“We feel we’re in pretty good shape,” Kelly said. “We feel like the depth that we’ve got there, it just means some freshmen will be elevated into a more prominent role.”

Video: BK talks training camp

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Jack Nolan catches up with Brian Kelly as the Irish wrap up their time at Culver Academy.

 

Irish A-to-Z: Avery Sebastian

Avery SEbastian 247
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For Irish safety Avery Sebastian, a sixth season is a rare opportunity to make an impact after a star-crossed career. Sebastian, who came to Notre Dame as a graduate transfer and lasted less than a game before suffering a season-ending foot injury in 2015, now needs to find a way to get through a full season healthy and find a niche as a physical, downhill safety.

That could be in sub-packages. That could be as a building block on special teams.

After spending four years at Cal and another season at Notre Dame, we’re still not quite sure what the Irish have. But as a veteran in a young secondary, Sebastian is an intriguing piece if he’s able to stay on the field.

 

AVERY SEBASTIAN
5’10”, 200 lbs.
Grad Student, No. 8, S

 

RECRUITING PROFILE

A four-star recruit, Sebastian was ranked as high as the No. 6 safety in the country by ESPN. An All-State player in the state of Georgia, he was listed at No. 8 on the Rivals national list of “top 10 headhunters,” before picking Cal.

He was a US Army All-American Bowl participant and played for the USA U-19 National team.

 

PLAYING CAREER

Freshman Season (2011): Played in 12 games off the bench for Cal, a key special teams cog. Made nine total tackles, with a season-high four against Arizona State.

Sophomore Season (2012): Played in 11 games, making four starts at safety. Honorable Mention All-Pac 12 for his special teams work. Made 56 tackles, fifth on the team, adding 1.5 TFLs.

Junior Season (2013): Started the season opener at safety, making 10 tackles and an interception before a season-ending injury.

Senior Season (2014): Played in seven games with a start. Made 21 tackles on the season, including seven against Stanford.

Fifth Year (2015): Appeared against Texas in the season opener before an injury ended his season. Qualified for a sixth season with a medical redshirt.

 

WHAT WE SAID LAST YEAR

What happens when the insurance policy gets injured?

Consider Sebastian an insurance policy, and I’m guessing he’ll be a fixture on every run team on special teams. Don’t be surprised if he also finds a role in some third down packages, or perhaps as a in-the-box safety against run-heavy opponents.

Sebastian feels like the logical backup to Elijah Shumate, though Tranquill will certainly have something to say about that. But with a gap between the young freshmen who just hit campus and veterans like Shumate and Max Redfield, Sebastian is a perfect plug-in, earning his way to Notre Dame after handling his business at Cal.

Regardless of what happens at the next level, a degree from Berkeley and a masters from Notre Dame? Sebastian will be just fine in the future.

 

FUTURE POTENTIAL

Sebastian isn’t a starter unless something goes wrong with Drue Tranquill. But he also wouldn’t be in South Bend if he didn’t have a specific value, and Brian Kelly and Brian VanGorder keeping him around certainly means he’ll be able to contribute in this system.

Undersized and not a natural in coverage, Sebastian’s game might be a little one-dimensional. But that’s not the worst thing in the world if it’s something that can help fill a deficiency, something this defense currently has.

 

CRYSTAL BALL

Predicting a healthy season from Sebastian is difficult at this point. But I liked the idea of adding Sebastian before last season and I still like it now. It’s tough to find snaps for Sebastian right now, though those snaps are currently being allocated to a player with two major knee injuries in his last half-dozen football games.

So he’s a Next Man In candidate who’ll likely be a key contributor on special teams. That’s a very good way to utilize a scholarship, especially from a veteran who is key depth at a position of need.

 

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
Trevor Ruhland
CJ Sanders

Camp highlights: Day three

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Yes, we did this out of order. We’ll take the 5-yard penalty and replay first down.

 

0:08 — Digging the music as CJ Sanders (#3) runs against air on the jet sweep.

0:18 — Nice ball from DeShone Kizer to Kevin (or let’s go with K.J.) Stepherson (#29) on the flag route. I fully expect an ACC officiating crew to spend three minutes overturning that catch.

0:27 — Brian Kelly expects a big season from Jay Hayes. What that looks like remains to be seen, but he’s an impressive looking football player. What a great decision (though probably very difficult) to redshirt him last year.

0:39Max Redfield (#10) breaks up the end zone attempt to CJ Sanders, making a nice late play at the ball after getting slightly out of position. Redfield certainly has the athleticism that allows him to run with athletes like Sanders, though he didn’t necessarily track the ball all that well.

0:50 — If Durham Smythe can hold up at the point of attack against Isaac Rochell (or guys like him), this running game will be very, very good.

0:53Malik Zaire on the move. He’ll likely be at his best once the pocket breaks down, though it’s much easier to shake-and-bake in the open field with a red jersey on. (That said, I think Zaire prefers to run like a sledge-hammer not a tap-dancer.)

1:07 — Hold on to that football, Tony Jones. It’s tough to make out who that is coming off the edge, but it looks like it could be Julian Okwara (#42) or Jamir Jones (#44) making a nice play.

1:16 — Gotta hold on to that one, Tyler Luatua (I think it’s Luatua). Great closing speed by Nyles Morgan, who I’m expecting to be sneaky good against the pass.

Camp highlights: Day Four

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With Notre Dame’s time in Culver winding down, our friends at UND.com gave us another morsel from training camp. Let’s over-analyze it!

 

0:10 — Need a young receiver to step up? Equanimeous St. Brown would like to throw his hat in the ring. The 6-foot-4 speedster, who opened up plenty of eyes in training camp last year, connects with DeShone Kizer on a well-thrown, back-shoulder deep ball.

For every positive there’s a not-so-positive, and in this case it’s freshman Julian Love (#27) getting beat. Stick with it kid. Love has been good thus far in camp, with all reports from those who had a look at Notre Dame’s open practice saying he was running as the No. 2 nickel back.

0:18Andrew Trumbetti seems to get the better of Alex Bars coming around the edge. The junior seems to have lost the starting job to Jay Hayes, but might be the closest thing to a pass rusher this defensive front has until Daelin Hayes can get up to speed.

0:25 — That’s CB1 vs. WR1 and it looks like Torii Hunter got the better of Cole Luke. After some jostling, Hunter hit the breaks as Luke flies by, snatching DeShone Kizer’s pass from his shoe tops, just as it nearly hit the turf.

0:35 — I’m a sucker for the pass-coming-straight-at-the-camera-into-the-net-shot. Here’s Malik Zaire throwing a bullseye.

0:39 — Time to give it up for Mark Harrell (#75). He hasn’t gotten a lot of ink around these parts, but he certainly earned the praise of his head coach during the opening press conference.

“Without Harrell, we’re in trouble. That guy is, he’s worth his weight in gold for us, because he can play almost every position on the offensive line,” Kelly said. “So he gives us the flexibility to virtually do everything. He’s our utility guy that can play guard, center, tackle, a little bit of everything. He’s invaluable to us on the offensive line right now.”

Harrell does a nice job standing his ground against Jarron Jones, who is still working his way into game shape. One thing is certain: Jones is a big man.

0:44 — On the move, Malik Zaire delivers a strike to CJ Sanders, who breaks away from Shaun Crawford (#20) on a 2nd-and-short conversion. From the looks of it, that was man coverage with Zaire rolling away from Max Redfield coming off the edge in a blitz. Nice throw and conversion.

0:52 — Put Tony Jones Jr. on the “better-than-advertised” list of camp surprises. The freshman has earned the praise of Brian Kelly already, has a nice hop in his step and has been very steady catching the football.

Last video, we saw Dexter Williams look like a thoroughbred running free in the secondary. Using football’s version of the transitive property, Mike Denbrock got Jones mixed up with Williams when the freshman spelled him after some cramping. That’s a good sign that Jones is another good find for a running back depth chart that is sneaky-good.

(I’m not sure my high school geometry teacher approves this usage of the transitive property.)

0:58 — It wouldn’t be state-run TV without equal opportunity for both quarterbacks. After seeing a nice play by Zaire, here’s an in-rhythm strike thrown by Kizer to Chase Claypool (#83), with the freshman getting inside classmate Troy Pride Jr. (#18).

This freshmen trio of wide receivers has a chance to be very, very special.

1:07 — There’s Shaun Crawford winning a rep against CJ Sanders getting a hand on a quick throw as the slot corner wins a battle with Notre Dame’s starter at Z.

1:11 — Here’s a gratuitous shot of DeShone Kizer doing something cool. Feels eerily similar to the shot of Iceman spinning a volleyball on his finger in Top Gun. This is a definite trailer moment.

(Love that he jogs off like, “Nothing special.” Kinda like never looking back at the explosion in a movie.)