Tom Loy, 247 Sports

Irish A-to-Z: Jerry Tillery

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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.

 

JERRY TILLERY
6’6.5″, 305 lbs.
Freshman, No. 99, DL

 

RECRUITING PROFILE

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.

 

FUTURE POTENTIAL

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.

 

CRYSTAL BALL

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
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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:

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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.)

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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.

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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.

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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
33 Comments

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.

Irish A-to-Z: Brandon Tiassum

247sports.com
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Notre Dame went back into Indianapolis and pulled out another defensive lineman in Brandon Tiassum. Big, long and athletic, Tiassum profiles similarly to classmate Elijah Taylor, showing the type of versatility to play at either defensive tackle spot with hopes that they’ll get some pass rush from him as well.

Not a national target, Tiassum was an early offer and a summer commitment, and a building block in the 2015 recruiting class. With the star rankings erased from the board, Tiassum now begins a career in South Bend that’ll depend on the Irish coaching staff evaluating their defensive line recruits properly.

 

BRANDON TIASSUM
6’3.5″, 302 lbs.
Freshman, No. 77, DL

 

RECRUITING PROFILE

Tiassum was a three-star prospect and had middle-of-the-road offers when he committed to the Irish. He drew interest from some mid-major programs before getting offers from Boston College, Louisville, Indiana and Miami.

He participated in the Semper Fidelis All-American game and was a 2A All-State player in Indiana.

 

FUTURE POTENTIAL

At this point, Tiassum feels like a wild card. He played in a small-school conference, on a team with 30-plus players on its entire roster. That allowed Tiassum to do everything, playing both ways and showcasing an athleticism that helped him start on the high school basketball team as well.

You can’t teach Tiassum’s size, and he’s got the length and athletic ability to do some damage. But it’s a big jump from 2A football in Indiana to Notre Dame, and you’ve gotta think that after a reacclimatization process, we’ll see what kind of football player comes out the other side. The Semper Fi game was an eye-opening change. The college game will be another one.

 

CRYSTAL BALL

Another redshirt candidate. Tiassum will get what he puts into this season. If that’s a year of working hard on the scout team, battling against one of the finest offensive lines in the country, that can only help him. But if it’s sleep walking through the season, then he’ll be in the same place next spring.

It’s hard not to see a kid with a good head on his shoulders when you see his recruiting video. And while he’s probably one of the more raw prospects in the class, he’s got great upside. So Tiassum fits into the RKG category. And that’s far from a bad thing.

 

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

Irish A-to-Z: Elijah Taylor

WCPO Cincinnati
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Brought in as an interior defensive lineman, Cincinnati’s Elijah Taylor looks like the type of stout run-stopper that Bob Diaco would’ve coveted as a nose guard. But in Brian VanGorder’s system, Taylor will have the opportunity to do more than two-gap at the point of attack.

Another recruiting victory out over Ohio State, Taylor enters a depth chart that doesn’t need him to be ready as a freshman, but will count on him down the line. After adding big bodies like Daniel Cage and Pete Mokwuah last cycle, Taylor also adds some explosiveness that has some believing he can add a spark to the pass rush as well.

Let’s take a look at Notre Dame’s latest from Archbishop Moeller.

 

ELIJAH TAYLOR
6’3″, 285 lbs.

 

RECRUITING PROFILE

Taylor only garnered a three-star ranking from Rivals, but his offer list seemed pretty elite. Notre Dame won Taylor’s signature over Ohio State and also Florida State, Miami, Michigan State and a handful of other programs.

He was a first-team All-State defender and also a member of the Cincinnati Enquirer’s All-Star team.

 

FUTURE POTENTIAL

At this point, put Taylor in the category of Jay Hayes or Daniel Cage coming out of high school. Neither blew the doors off of any recruiting service, but they did manage to have some impressive offers and made some great strides in their first season.

Of course, Hayes and Cage are different players. Hayes profiles as a three-technique (the position Sheldon Day plays) while Cage is behind Jarron Jones. It’ll be interesting to see what type of player Taylor becomes, because some recruiting analysts believed he had pass rush ability that could allow him to slide outside, putting a potential comp like Isaac Rochell in the realm of possibility.

None of this is knowable until we actually get a look at Taylor. But working with first-year defensive line coach Keith Gilmore and a depth chart that allows for some developmental time, Taylor is a nice piece of talent to add to the pool.

 

CRYSTAL BALL

Unless a rash of injuries hit, Taylor will have the opportunity to learn at his own pace and save a year of eligibility this season. With Jarron Jones healthy and Sheldon Day looking like a lock to stay on the field, finding a way into the three-deep would be an accomplishment, and there’s no reason to take snaps if Taylor isn’t going to see significant time.

The best view of his development will likely come in the spring, as the Irish begin life without Day (and possibly Jones). If Taylor is as strong and athletic as some reports point out, he’ll have a chance to work his way into the mix in 2016.

 

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