Tag: Alex Welch

BYU v Notre Dame

Irish draft hopefuls audition at ND Pro Day


Former Irish football players had their chance to audition for future employers today in South Bend at the Notre Dame Pro Day. It was a reunion of sorts as players from all over worked out inside the Gug under the watchful eyes of NFL scouts.

With Notre Dame only losing starters Ben Koyack, Cody Riggs and Kyle Brindza to the NFL, it’s not expected to be a big year for the Irish in the draft. But also returning to campus to audution were former captain Cam McDaniel, DaVaris Daniels, Jake Golic, Andrew Hendrix, Ethan Johnson, Kendall Moore, Justin Utupo and Alex Welch.

Daniels and Moore are back on campus even after last season’s suspension. They’re joined by Miami RedHawks Hendrix and Welch, who played out their eligibility under former offensive coordinator Chuck Martin.

Golic returned to campus after playing at Cincinnati. Johnson is looking to return to the NFL after being a part of the concussion class action lawsuit and a cup of coffee with the Kansas City Chiefs.

Let’s take to social media to get you some results:

Here’s an update on Cody Riggs, who was a surprise to be not among the invites to the combine in Indianapolis, but certainly helped his draft stock by running as fast as you’d have expected.

It appears that Riggs tweaked a hamstring later in the workout, but not before taking a slo-mo leap in the broad jump:


Ben Koyack, who was invited to Indianapolis, but didn’t run the 40-yard dash there, did so in South Bend. Per SID Michael Bertsch, Koyack ran right around a 4.7, with the fastest time listed at 4.68.

Koyack was at the Senior Bowl and Combine and is likely to be the first former Irish player off the draft board, though maybe not as early as previous Notre Dame tight ends.


Also back on campus is McDaniel, who is days away from becoming a father. A fringe candidate to make a roster, McDaniel showed some versatility—needed if he’s going to be a special teams performer on Sundays.


Kyle Brindza did a nice job updating us on his Pro Day. Here’s the former Irish kicker on his afternoon, where he showed off epic strongman skills in addition to a big leg on kickoffs.


In a parallel universe, DaVaris Daniels was catching passes from Andrew Hendrix. The Elkhart Truth’s Rachel Terlep even has proof.

Daniels spoke with media at the event, doing his best to put his suspension and inability to return to South Bend into context.

“It’s a difficult situation,” Daniels acknowledged to The Observer‘s Mike Monaco. “I don’t hold any grudges. I just don’t really like thinking about the situation… it is what it is. At this point, I’m ready for the NFL. That’s my focus.”

Daniels estimates he’s got a little over two semesters left of work to complete before earning his Notre Dame degree. He said all the right things about moving forward and hopefully finishing up his course work, while also taking the high road about the frustrating time where all five suspended athletes waited to hear their fate.

Most importantly for Daniels, at least when it comes to his immediate employment future, is getting his speed and explosiveness back. Various reports had Daniels breaking into the 4.5-range on his 40, a critical threshold for him.


If you’re looking for good news out of South Bend, defensive end Ishaq Williams—currently in football and academic purgatory—was on hand watching the festivities. Williams didn’t speak to any media but sat with his teammates for the festivities, though what to make of that isn’t clear.

While scholarship numbers are tight, Williams could be a great addition to a defensive front that’s looking for more bulk, and it’d allow him to finish his Notre Dame degree after a two semester exile.

Report: Welch, Wood will transfer for fifth year

Alex Welch

It looks like seniors Alex Welch and Lo Wood are nearing the end of their careers at Notre Dame. The reserve tight end and cornerback are looking to transfer, set to graduate from Notre Dame and play their final season at a different college without restriction.

Pete Sampson of Irish Illustrated was the first to report this news over Twitter:

The move makes a ton of sense for both players. For Welch, it gives the 6-foot-3.5, 251-pound tight end a chance to get out from behind Troy Niklas and Ben Koyack. For Wood, he’ll have the opportunity to play somewhere, with freshmen Devin Butler and Cole Luke pushing ahead of him in the depth chart this season and KeiVarae Russell entrenched as a starter

Both Welch and Wood had their Irish careers derailed by untimely injuries. For Welch, a preseason knee injury robbed the Cincinnati native of his opportunity to be the No. 2 tight end last season, forcing Niklas into the lineup.

Wood suffered a similar fate, tearing his Achilles tendon in preseason camp where he was set to start at cornerback, forcing Russell into the starting lineup having never played cornerback. Wood returned this season, but only saw minimal time in the secondary, bouncing between corner and safety.

As we begin to project the 85-man roster and the always delicate fifth-year situation before next year, the potential departure of Welch and Wood from the roster bubble opens up space for additional recruits and other seniors to return.

Sampson predicts Wood will end up at Georgia Tech and that Welch will end up at a program closer to his hometown in Cincinnati. Lst year, seldom-used tight end Jake Golic transferred to the Bearcats before chronic injuries ended his career.

Offseason cheat sheet: Tight ends

NCAA Football: Purdue at Notre Dame

Tyler Eifert is gone. The All-American and Mackey Award winner rewrote the Notre Dame record books on his way to being selected in the first round of the NFL Draft. Not bad for a guy that was a three-star recruit, and a player with a back injury that had many thinking he’d never step foot on the field.

Eifert continued a long line of successful Irish tight ends that have gone on to respectable NFL careers. Starting it off was Anthony Fasano, still cashing a paycheck on Sundays. John Carlson joined Fasano as a second round draft pick and now plays for his home state Vikings. He’s joined by Kyle Rudolph in Minnesota, where the second year player was named the MVP of the Pro Bowl last season.

Without Eifert, the tight end position is hardly bare. Let’s walk through the roster of a position group that’s been very kind to Notre Dame over the past decade, and expects to be this year as well.


Once again, the Irish are in a position to utilize multiple TE sets in their offense, taking advantage of a depth chart filled with veteran players. One of the benefits of Brian Kelly and Bill Belichick’s newfound friendship was Kelly’s chance to have he and his offensive staff pick Belichick and Josh McDaniel’s brain on the different ways to utilize multiple tight end sets. While Belichick won’t have that opportunity as much this year with Rob Gronkowski recovering from surgery and Aaron Hernandez likely spending the rest of his life behind bars, that won’t stop the Irish from getting Troy Niklas, Ben Koyack and Alex Welch on the field together.

Adding two freshmen tight ends in Mike Heuerman and Durham Smythe also protects the Irish from the depth chart getting too top heavy, with Niklas, Welch and Koyack all in their third year of competition.

The Irish already have a recruiting commitment from Illinois’ Nic Weishar and are in the mix for Southern California blue-chipper Tyler Luatua as well, so restocking the position is a priority in this cycle.


Here’s a look at the position group, with yesterday’s depth chart worked into the ordering.

1. Troy Niklas, Jr. #85
2. Ben Koyack, Jr. #18
3. Alex Welch, Sr. #82
4. Mike Heuerman, Fr. #9
5. Durham Smythe, Fr. #80


If there’s one position group that’ll likely benefit from Tommy Rees getting back in the saddle, it’s tight end. Rees and Tyler Eifert made sweet, sweet music together in ’10 and ’11, working the vertical seams as well as any combination in college football. While nobody on this roster gets up the field as well as Eifert, there’s every reason to believe that footballs will be coming fast and furious to the tight ends.

Troy Niklas has the best opportunity to be the beneficiary of Rees’ return. Learning on the fly last year as a glorified offensive tackle, Niklas has athleticism that hasn’t truly been revealed, and you get the feeling that he and the staff expect to surprise some people over the next few Saturdays with his ability to make plays down field.

That doesn’t mean we should sleep on Ben Koyack or Alex Welch. Koyack never seemed to get his mojo back after some early drops against Navy and he gave ground to Niklas as an attached blocker. But Koyack has the ability to be dominant at the line of scrimmage as well, and the 261-pounder should take a big step forward this year.

Welch appears to be all the way back from an ACL injury suffered last fall. He’s not the physical specimen that Niklas or Koyack are, but he’s a smooth athlete that will be a productive player this year. If all three guys stay healthy, there will be times when all three could be on the field together, giving the offense true jumbo capabilities.

It’ll be interesting to see if Heuerman or Smythe see the field this year. From a special teams perspective, Heuerman might be the more attractive option, as he’s more of a runner and stood out last season as a defensive player in high school. Both have gotten high praise from the coaching staff, but neither are physically ready to contribute at the line of scrimmage, with Heuerman weighing 225 and Smythe 235.

Big personnel shakeup after first day in pads

Alex Welch

Jordan Prestwood leaving the football team yesterday was hardly the only big piece of personnel news. As the Irish donned pads for the first time in front of local media, Brian Kelly’s troops had a few big roster shakeups, two that could change the positional plans for the Irish.

Most notable was a serious knee injury to junior tight end Alex Welch, who was competing with sophomores Ben Koyack and Troy Niklas for the No. 2 job behind All-American Tyler Eifert. Welch was injured near the end of practice and carried off the field. As I hinted at yesterday on Twitter, multiple sources told me it was a torn ACL, essentially ending his season before it starts. (IrishIllustrated.com has also confirmed the ACL tear.)

The loss of Welch doesn’t limit what the Irish offense can do, but it sure takes away some of the versatility it could have had. With Welch, Koyack and Niklas, the Irish had three capable in-line tight ends, allowing Eifert to be split wide, in the slot, or just about anywhere Kelly and offensive coordinator Chuck Martin want to put him. While senior Jake Golic will move into the mix with Welch gone, losing the 6-foot-4, 250-pounder from Cincinnati is a blow to a position of great depth.



One position that doesn’t have great depth is the ‘dog’ outside linebacker. Playing on the wide side of the field, the two defenders with the most experience there last season are no longer at the position, with Prince Shembo competing with Ishaq Williams for Darius Fleming’s old job and Troy Niklas now playing tight end. That leaves junior linebacker Danny Spond and sophomore Ben Councell battling for the position, a competition that’s been thrown in flux after Kelly reported that Spond suffered a concussion in practice yesterday.

Kelly only had the preliminary report on Spond, making it a guessing game for fans to wonder if the junior linebacker is out for days or weeks. Some have referenced a serious concussion Spond suffered during his senior season of high school, but while relevant, it’s not really an indicator of how long or serious this injury  could be.

While Spond heals, the majority of the reps will be taken by Councell, ready to take the field after sitting out his freshman season. Long thought of as the prototype field-side linebacker on the roster, the early returns on his play seem incredibly positive, with both the head coach and a reporter agreeing that the 6-foot-5, 240-pound North Carolina native has been a disruptive force early on.

“He’s really athletic,” Kelly said. “He can play out over the No. 2 and re-route him but he can also sit down on the tight end. That versatility is important and he’s long. He plays pretty big out there. He’s a guy that arrives at the ball with the kind of tenacity that you want. Just every day is a new experience for him, learning. But he’s what it should look like out there.”


Lastly, just days after announcing Brad Carrico was hanging up the pads for good because of a foot injury, it appears running back Cam Roberson is doing the same thing. The junior running back suffered a major knee injury two springs ago and just hasn’t been able to fully recover.

“Cam Roberson physically was not able to compete at the level that he felt was necessary to play here at Notre Dame so we’re going to pursue a medical hardship for him,” Kelly said.

The loss likely won’t be felt on the depth chart, but it’s sad news for a guy that came into Notre Dame with high hopes. It’s a stark reminder for both players and recruits that picking a school isn’t just about picking a football program. It’s a bit of a cliche, but there’s some truth to the Notre Dame maxim that choosing a college isn’t a four-year decision but rather a forty year one. With medical hardship scholarships, both Carrico and Roberson will be able to complete their educations without counting against the Irish’s 85-man scholarship limit.

Practice Report: Day Seven update


If there’s reason to believe the Irish offense will take a step forward next season even after losing Michael Floyd, it’s Tyler Eifert. The rising senior tight end, who before Brian Kelly arrived was expected by some to disappear into obscurity after a back injury, instead has turned into the best of a recent string of Irish TEs to go to the NFL, with his All-American junior season a record breaking one.

Inside Loftus Sports Center Saturday, the Irish scrimmaged for the first time this spring in full pads, giving us our first, however miniscule, look at what’s to come with the offense next season. As usual, I’ve gone into pain-staking details to help you make heads or tails of the footage.

  • 0:09 — Way to keep up the streak, Jack Nolan. Another video, another piece of ND apparel. Nice rain-winter hybrid adidas jacket to keep you warm and dry out there.
  • 0:28 — Going to attempt to breakdown every scrimmage play we see. I might miss a few details, but let’s see how we do.
  • 0:30 — Tommy Rees hands off to George Atkinson (#4) who cuts it up until he’s met by linebacker Ishaq Williams (#11). It’d be great for the Irish if we heard a lot from both soon-to-be sophomores.
  • 0:34 — Andrew Hendrix (#12) drops back to pass, getting his throw off just in time to John Goodman (#81). From there, Goodman encapsulates his career, weaving his way across the field before he’s hit from behind and stripped on a great play by linebacker Anthony Rabassa (#56).  From the sounds of it, the defense recovers. What a great effort play by Rabassa, who looked to be a part of the pass rush.
  • 0:51 — That’s Everett Golson (#5) standing in the pocket and throwing a strike on a quick out to Goodman. Bennett Jackson (#2) finishes the play, tackling Goodman out of bounds. If we’re truly over-analyzing things, Golson’s feet looked a little happy in the pocket. (Then again, so do Peyton Manning’s.)
  • 0:56 — Rees hands off to Theo Riddick (#6), who looks pretty electric in the backfield. Theo makes a few cuts before he’s met in the hole by Manti Te’o, who ends the play rather quickly. Interesting that it was a two-back set with Atkinson on the other side of Rees, leading the way.
  • 1:06 — Gunner Kiel (#1) takes a snap under center, handing it to Atkinson on a stretch play, who runs away from Louis Nix (#9) (That’s Matt Hegarty (#77) chasing Big Lou) and makes something impressive out of nothing. Carlo Calabrese (#44) and Matthias Farley (#41) on the tackle down field.
  • 1:15 — Good news, bad news Irish fans. That’s Rees completing a nice fade route down the sideline to All-American Tyler Eifert. Bad news? That’s Bennett Jackson getting absolutely dusted in one-on-one coverage, with late safety help by Austin Collinsworth (#28).
  • 1:30 — What a ridiculous catch by Eifert, who looks about as good as you can possibly look at tight end. You’ve got to think touted-TE recruit Mike Heuerman saw plenty to like watching the Irish move Eifert all around.
  • 2:20 — Here’s the recap of BK talking about the tight end position, which is basically Tyler Eifert… and everybody else.
  • 2:53 — That’s Scott Booker coaching up Eifert, in his first season working as a position coach for the Irish.
  • 3:33 — I’m not going to get too excited about Troy Niklas (#85) since it’s still March, but even Booker talks about his hands, and I’ve got a feeling he’s going to continue that string of high draft picks for the Irish at the position.
  • 3:40 — And Jake Golic.
  • 3:55 — Nicely pointed out, Jack Nolan. For those thinking this is Booker’s first coaching job, rest easy. He’s worked as a position coach for five years, choosing to come to ND and hoping to earn his way to a position job. Two seasons later, he did.
  • 5:15 — The man, the myth, the legend Harry Hiestand making an appearance on Booker’s “mic’d up” session, reaffirming Booker’s blocking tip to Eifert as the line and tight ends work together in run blocking drills.
  • 5:50 — Even though its just a positional drill, it’s nice to see the tight ends running wheel routes and going vertical. Booker catches Golic taking a false step to start his route, but all five guys look smooth catching the ball.
  • 6:36 — For a guy that’s played TE for six practices, that’s nice work by Niklas beating Zeke Motta (#17) one-on-one.