Tag: Darrin Walls

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Smith, Stewart, Walls and Williams all find NFL homes


After a much longer wait than anyone anticipated, four former Irish football players will have a chance to continue their careers in the NFL. Linebacker Brian Smith, guard Chris Stewart, cornerback Darrin Walls and nose tackle Ian Williams all agreed to rookie free agent contracts yesterday, the first day the NFL opened for business after a 135-day lockout.

Smith will join the Cleveland Browns, where new head coach Pat Shurmur brought in former head coach Dick Jauron to run the defense. Smith has plenty of versatility at linebacker, playing inside and out in both the 3-4 and 4-3, something that’ll come in handy in a defense that’ll likely do a little of both.

Stewart joins one of the AFC’s best teams, the New York Jets. He’ll battle for a job along the offensive line, working with assistant head coach and offensive line coach Bill Callahan. The Jets have a two-deep at guard that includes backups with zero NFL experience, likely the reason why Stewart chose New York.

Walls was expected to be drafted after a solid senior season, but didn’t get invited to the NFL Combine. Still, he elevated his stock more than any other player at the Notre Dame Pro Day when he ran a sub 4.4 forty-time in his personal workouts. He announced via Twitter this morning that he’ll be going to Atlanta, trying to make it in a secondary that was in the bottom-third of the NFL against the pass.

The longest wait of any Notre Dame player might have belonged to Ian Williams, who at one time expected to hear his name called in the second or third round. Williams injured his knee against Navy late in the season, came back in time for the bowl game but struggled to get completely healthy. That likely led to his draft day slide, which officially ended when he joined Jim Harbaugh’s San Francisco 49ers. Williams walks into a depth chart that is likely losing starting nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin. According to an SI.com report, Williams was the top undrafted free agent available.

UPDATE — It appears that running back Armando Allen has also signed a free agent contract. Allen will join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, according to various reports.

ANOTHER UPDATE — Add Robert Hughes to the list. He’s signed with his hometown Chicago Bears.

Pro Day highlights Rudolph, Williams and Walls

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We talked more about the NFL Draft last offseason when the Irish had Jimmy Clausen and Golden Tate in the running for first round contention. But today a crop of Irish seniors worked out for NFL scouts, headlined by tight end Kyle Rudolph, who is fighting to be a first round draft pick as he rehabilitates from a hamstring surgery that robbed him of much of the season.

Rudolph was joined by teammates Armando Allen (also rehabbing hip injuries), Robert Hughes, Duval Kamara, Kerry Neal, Kyle Rudolph, Brian Smith, Chris Stewart, Darrin Walls and Ian Williams at Loftus today, where they went through nearly three hours of drills, sprints, interviews and prodding in anticipation of the upcoming NFL Draft.

If you’re looking for all the results, Tony Krausz at the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette has you covered. If you’re looking for a guy that impressed, look no further than cornerback Darrin Walls.

It was mildly surprising that Walls wasn’t invited to the Combine, and Walls confirmed that by putting up a 4.39 in the forty-yard dash as well as a 6.88 in the three-cone drill, times that would’ve had him in the lead pack at the combine.

All reports on Rudolph’s workout seem to be positive, with his 4.7-4.8 forty time not really hurting him, especially considering he’s recovering from hamstring surgery. (Rudolph is incapable of not impressing in sweatpants.)

Chris Stewart’s continued commitment to fitness should also be a surprise as he weighed in today at 317 pounds, a fraction of what he once weighed and down significantly from the 358-pounds he played at this year.

Armando Allen weighed in at slightly over 200-pounds and ran in the 4.5s, Ian Williams ran a 7.75 in the three-cone drill, and Brian Smith also helped his cause.

For more, check out the coverage from UND.com or hunt down one of the dozens of draftniks moving Irish players up and down their big boards.

Irish notes: Combine, injuries and recruiting

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Before we start digging into the season that was, I wanted to clear a few little notes off the desk. The first is that running back Armando Allen and defensive tackle Ian Williams were the only two Irish football players invited to the NFL Scouting Combine. (Obviously, that would change if either Michael Floyd or Kyle Rudolph decide to head to the NFL.) Cornerback Darrin Walls is an alternate.

I can’t say I was surprised that the Irish didn’t get a larger contingency invited, but guys like Chris Stewart, Brian Smith, and Robert Hughes will definitely get looks by NFL teams as well, even if they don’t make the trip to Indy.

Allen receiving an invite to the combine is fortuitous and if he can come back healthy by late February, he’ll have a great chance at making a career of it on Sundays, especially with his versatility out of the backfield. Healthy, he’s the kind of guy that could light up a stopwatch, and the drills in Indy could be somewhere he’ll get noticed.

Williams has also been invited to the Senior Bowl, the best of the college all-star games that serve as a draft showcase.


Nose tackle Sean Cwynar will undergo surgery on his broken foot, suffered during the Sun Bowl against the Hurricanes. Safety Jamoris Slaughter, who’s been plagued by an ankle injury all season will have minor surgery to help clean up some loose cartilage. Slaughter’s season was essentially ruined by the ankle injury he suffered in the season opening game, an injury that forced Zeke Motta into full-time duty opposite Harrison Smith, and had the Irish down to essentially two healthy safeties for much of the year.

Irish fans can officially take a deep sigh of relief as the knee injury Manti Te’o suffered was diagnosed as a mild sprain, meaning there’s no need for anything other than a little rest for the Irish’s tackling machine.


Jake Brown of IrishIllustrated.com has a great article on one-time Notre Dame commitment Aaron Lynch, who found some “closure” with the Irish after receiving plenty of backlash for decommitting.

From Brown:

The Seminoles secured Lynch’s commitment on Nov. 16 and Lynch will enroll in Tallahassee after spending a couple days at home following the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.

But looking back on how he handled the situation, Lynch has some regrets about how the de-commitment went down. Rather than call Alford to deliver the news, Lynch consulted with his high school coach and sent a text message, then didn’t answer or avoided phone calls.

“I should’ve handled it differently,” Lynch said. “I shouldn’t have sent a text out. I shouldn’t have listened to nobody. I should’ve just called him, that’s how close we were. I regret it and that was foolish of me to do that. So, we didn’t talk for awhile.”

I’m not going to get into the idiotic mindset of fans texting and Facebook-ing recruits, but kudos to Lynch for taking his share of the blame in the entire fiasco.


With the Irish’s lack of depth at safety a concern, it’s interesting that George Atkinson, one of the Irish’s touted wide receiver commitments, is taking all his snaps at the US Army All-American Bowl at safety.

Atkinson still says he’s coming into South Bend as a wideout, but the cross training at safety, especially if Michael Floyd decides to come back to school.