Tag: John Goodman


Pregame Six Pack: Blue & Gold (and a certain Irish victory)


It may count the same as the other fourteen practices allotted by NCAA rules during the spring, but there will be plenty of eyeballs on the last official workout of the school year for the Irish. With a national broadcast on NBC Sports Network kicking off at 1:30 p.m. ET, a spring spent mostly working away from the eyes of media will be opened up for all to see in high definition, tightening the microscope on a Notre Dame football program that’s had a roller-coaster spring.

From position changes to unexpected departures, a quarterback battle that’ll likely last deep into August, and a wide receiving corps in desperate need of reinforcements, plenty has happened since the Irish ended the 2011 season with a disappointing loss to Florida State.

To get you up to speed, the pregame six pack will give you six fun facts, tidbits, leftovers and miscellaneous musings, as we prepare for a football game where the Irish are certain to win.


While the focus should stay on the players on the field, the most intriguing football player on campus is still Aaron Lynch.

Brian Kelly isn’t in the business of talking people into staying. In his first days as coach at Notre Dame, he wished wide receiver Shaq Evans well, unwilling to re-recruit a talented player to a team where he wasn’t committed to playing. While mystery still surrounds cornerback Tee Shepard‘s departure, Kelly didn’t blink when Shepard went home to Fresno, looking more and more a lock to never set foot on campus again after being one of the Irish’s most steadfast (and important) recruits.

A week ago, Kelly addressed the media without flinching, announcing that rising star defensive end Aaron Lynch “has quit the football team.” While he remains on campus finishing the semester before deciding where to take his prodigious talents, it appears that Kelly is fine with living the credo “next man in.” But that doesn’t mean his family is.

Thursday evening, Alice Lynch, Aaron’s mother and an active presence on Twitter, took to the popular social networking website to seek the help of former Irish defensive end Justin Tuck. “Please go to Zahm Hall and tell my son Aaron what a bad decision he is making by leaving ND. Thank you.”

The message spread like wildfire across the web, and certainly confirmed the suspicions of many that the younger Lynch is making a unilateral decision, one that wasn’t run by his mother, teammates, or coaches. That Lynch’s mother would reach out of Notre Dame’s best NFL player, a defensive end that battled culture shock in South Bend to become one of the best ambassadors of the university playing professional football, shows both the power of social media, and the lengths Lynch’s mother is willing to go to talk sense into her son.

Former Irish player Spencer Boyd took to Twitter today to announce Lynch would be joining Skip Holtz‘s South Florida team this summer, and there were other reports that Lynch would be visiting Tampa for a visit this weekend. But the fact Lynch’s mother would reach out to Tuck, who is serving as an honorary captain this Saturday, gives you the feeling that the final chapter in Lynch’s Notre Dame career may not have been written in ink.


With the depth chart at wide receiver dwindling, it’s time for Daniel Smith and Davaris Daniels to step up.

As the Irish enter the first year of life after Michael Floyd, they’ll walk into Saturday’s scrimmage with a depth chart more than a little short. With incoming freshman Justin Ferguson and Chris Brown not coming to campus until summer, even at full strength, it was tough to field a complete depth chart at the outside receiver positions.

Add to that some untimely injuries this spring, and the lack of receivers was a big reason Kelly decided against a traditional scrimmage that split the roster in half. With fifth-year senior John Goodman suffering a minor ankle injury that’ll likely keep him out of the spring game and Luke Massa suffering an ACL injury that’ll likely keep him sidelined into next season, the Irish are down to four scholarship players at the outside receiver positions — a number that just isn’t enough in a spread offense.

But the shortage should benefit two players that were persons of interest this spring: rising junior Daniel Smith and soon-to-be sophomore Davaris Daniels. Both have been under close watch by Kelly, and both seem to have performed up to task.

After bearing the brunt of some candid comments by Kelly, Daniels — who has already been pronounced one of the most dynamic athletes on the roster by the head coach — turned in a steady week of practice and has the staff feeling like he’ll be ready to go come fall.

“This last week, DaVaris Daniels really stepped up his play and became a guy that we can feel comfortable now saying that he’s going to help us win games next year,” Kelly said. “That’s a really important thing.”

After battling a difficult depth chart and some injury woes in his first two years in the program, Smith, a South Bend native that’s yet to make much of a difference on the field, made it through spring practice unscathed and ready to use his 6-foot-4 frame for some good.

“Daniel is important to us,” Kelly said this week. “We need him to come up and be a consistent player for us, and it’s been about injuries for him. He’s got the injury bug and it looks like he’s kicked it because he made every spring practice and he hadn’t been able to do that in his previous time here. So a really positive step for Daniel Smith this spring.”

TJ Jones returns the most snaps at the receiver position, and we’ll see if he can make a leap as an upperclassman after battling through a challenging season off the field last season. We’ll also see walk-on Andre Smith getting some reps, as the North Broward Prep, Florida prospect has done some nice things this spring.


While Kelly’s declared the playbook open, don’t expect to see all the new wrinkles.

Talking with coaches the past two years, the Blue-Gold game was one of the least efficient practices of the season. In Brian Kelly’s first year, the offense ran about as vanilla as it could possibly go, with Irish fans dazzled at a quick pace, and more than fine with seeing the same three running plays. On defense, Bob Diaco made sure his unit didn’t run a single alignment that they’d use during the season.

Last season, Kelly and company were happy to get out of the workout unscathed, with defensive starters pulled quickly, Dayne Crist and Tommy Rees both protected and pulled quickly, and the second half given to Andrew Hendrix, Everett Golson, not to mention the breakout performance of Aaron Lynch.

With four quarterbacks that need to see live bullets, and new offensive coordinator Chuck Martin running the show, Kelly has reversed course on what he’s trying to get out of the spring’s final workout.

“We’re going to show,” Kelly said. “Everybody has film on us. So we’re going to run our offense and our defense, and our quarterbacks are live, all four quarterbacks are live. They need to be live, they need to be part of it.”

Making his quarterbacks live is a luxury the Irish didn’t have in Kelly’s last two spring games, both featuring Crist rehabilitating a major knee injury. And while each quarterback will be treated like any other ball carrier, don’t truly expect to see all the new wrinkles come out, especially with Martin and Kelly completely revamping the personnel groupings.

One new play in particular to watch for? The “Fly Sweep” that West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen used to shred Clemson’s defense with in the Orange Bowl. (For the genesis of the play, here’s a great rundown.) We’ve already seen the play in UND.com practice videos, meaning Martin and Kelly won’t be afraid to show it again. With talented slot versatility with guys like Robby Toma, Theo Riddick, incoming freshman Davonte Neal and even Cierre Wood, don’t be surprised to see this come into play on Saturday.


Jamoris Slaughter will only be adding to his versatility.

After dropping down into the box last season to play outside linebacker against Air Force, the defense found one of its most versatile weapons in safety Jamoris Slaughter. After losing most of his junior year with a nagging foot injury suffered in the opener against Purdue, Slaughter showed his value by moving seamlessly from the back of the defense to the front seven, working well taking on both pulling guards and speedy receivers, filling in for field linebacker Prince Shembo, who struggled playing out of position for most of the year.

With field cornerback a major concern with Lo Wood and Josh Atkinson battling it out for the job across from junior Bennett Jackson, don’t be surprised to see Slaughter working in at another spot, optimizing one of the Irish’s most flexible players. What looked like an experiment at cornerback earlier in the spring is now clearly cross-training.

“I don’t think it’s an experiment,” Kelly said. “He’s in there if we need him. If we get into a bind or we lose a guy or two, he can go in there. I remember when I played baseball, I carried two gloves: a catcher’s mitt and a first baseman’s glove. That’s kind of what we’re doing with Jamoris. He’s our safety, but he’s got to be ready to go if we need him.”

There’s no cornerback help coming in the fall, with Shepard gone and the Irish unable to bring in any other recruits after players like Yuri Wright and Anthony Standifer had to be taken off the recruiting board. While Cam McDaniel has shown promise in his 14 practices learning a new position, getting the cornerbacks off the field healthy is of the utmost importance, as is making sure Slaughter can play anywhere. With the coaches confident that Zeke Motta and Austin Collinsworth can handle safety reps, adding another dimension to Slaughter’s game will only help.


It’s a recruiting reunion on campus this weekend for the Irish.

In years past, the Blue-Gold game has been a showcase weekend for the Irish coaching staff as they unofficially welcome handfuls of recruits to campus. That’ll stay the same this weekend, though most recruits coming to campus have already given their pledge to the Irish.

Nine of the ten verbal commitments to the Irish will be in South Bend this weekend for the Blue-Gold game. Offensive linemen Hunter Bivin, Steve Elmer, Mike McGlinchey and Colin McGovern will all reunite after seeing each other at the Irish’s last junior day. They’ll be joined by cornerback Devin Butler, defensive end Jacob Matuska, wide receivers James Onwualu and Corey Robinson and quarterback Malik Zaire. The only commitment that can’t make it this weekend is New Jersey cornerback Rashad Kinlaw.

The Irish hoped to get an appearance from uber-recruit Jaylon Smith, but the Fort Wayne product — who was timed running a 4.4, and dazzled at his regular outside linebacker/defensive end position before taking reps as a 6-foot-3, 230-pound shutdown cornerback at an Adidas combine recently — will be playing in a seven-on-seven tournament.

But fear not, Irish fans. Notre Dame has its own secret weapon working on Smith. None other than the school’s most popular athlete, All-American point guard Skylar Diggins. After Smith tweeted out candidates like Alabama, Ohio State, Notre Dame, and USC, Diggins — for all of her 230,439 followers to see — tweeted back at Smith, “Irish. Easy.”


Blue-Gold performance is no indicator for future earnings.

There are plenty of reasons to watch the Blue-Gold game on Saturday. (First of all, it’s your last chance to watch the Irish on TV until you’re up at dawn to see them playing Navy in Dublin.) But take anything that happens on the field with a grain of salt. A great performance in the Blue-Gold game is just that: A great performance in a spring scrimmage. For every performance like Aaron Lynch had last season, there’s one by Kyle Budinscak, who racked up five sacks during the 2001 spring game. (He never had more than three sacks in a season.) Cierre Wood’s big 2010 Blue-Gold game was a sign of things to come, while Junior Jabbie‘s breakout 2007 performance is noting more than a fun footnote in Irish lore.

With live quarterbacks, ones-versus-ones, and legitimate competition at several key positions, there’s plenty you can glean from the only up-close look at the Irish we’ll get until Dublin. But a terrific (or terrible) performance by anyone — quarterbacks included — may be big news to us, but only one of many data-points to coaches.

Saturday will be a fun one and will likely give a few hints at what’s to come. But if you’re expecting to reach any conclusions, you’ll walk away disappointed.





Other spring headlines (and Lynch Practices!)

Atkinson Jackson track

Rest easy, Irish fans. Aaron Lynch practiced with the Irish today. If everything we could possibly talk about wasn’t discussed here or here, well — feel free to fill the comments here or take to the message-boards with your thoughts.

We’re moving on to other interesting topics.


George Atkinson spent Easter weekend in Palo Alto, close to his Northern California home and also competing in the  Stanford Invitational track meet. Atkinson won his heat in the 100m dash, qualifying for the finals with a 10.61 sprint. He finished sixth in the final heat, clocking a 10.69. Atkinson also participated in the 200m dash, clocking a 21.53 run, eight in a field of almost 50 sprinters.

Of course, none of the other sprinters in Palo Alto are 6-1, 210 pound running backs in the middle of spring football practice. Atkinson’s elite speed, not to mention his impressive size and ability to play in space, will be a very intriguing piece of the Irish offense next fall, especially with the depth at the tailback position allowing him to play from the slot and move around the field.

Head coach Brian Kelly has made it known that he sees Atkinson as a running back first, and while he doesn’t have an elite set of hands, there will be plenty of opportunities to get the ball out in space and make plays, not to mention create some favorable match-ups when the Irish can potentially put Cierre Wood, Theo Riddick, Amir Carlisle and Atkinson on the field at once.

Sure, it’d be great if there weren’t a ton of unanswered questions at the outside receiving positions. But Atkinson — who has the size to line up outside — might be too good of an athlete to keep off the field, playing out of position or not.


Just when John Goodman was working his way back into the good graces of ND Nation, he spoke with Blue & Gold’s Wes Morgan about the quarterbacking battle. Even though no Irish fan wants to hear it, Goodman said Tommy Rees was leading the way in a four-man race.

“Coach is still working really hard with each one of them,” Goodman told Morgan. “One day one guy will start and another day another guy will start… Each one of them are doing really well. I think that Tommy is doing the best out of all of them, but that’s just my opinion. In the end it’s going to be the guy that runs the offense the best and also has the best timing with receivers and running backs.”

Any analytical approach to defending Rees falls on deaf ears. But while it pains a ton of Irish fans to hear it,  it’s no surprise that a quarterback that’s started 16 games over the past two seasons would be having the best spring camp among a redshirt freshman, an early enrollee, and a guy that got his first sniff of playing in the offensive system in the regular season finale. Dialing things back to the basics with new offensive coordinator Chuck Martin will only accentuate the advantage Rees has, as his core competency was never the issue. (Rees did walk in as a freshman in garbage time against Navy and march the Irish down the field after Dayne Crist struggled to do anything against the Midshipmen.)

Two years ago, when Rees was a rising sophomore battling incumbent (but injured) starter, the battle went well into the summer and fall camp before Kelly named Crist the starter. If any of the other quarterbacks are going to make a move, it’ll likely be during summer work, when there isn’t a clock governing study hours, and the team does its voluntary work together.


Much has been made about a reported fight between Aaron Lynch and right tackle Tate Nichols that occurred during practice before Easter break. Nichols and Lynch have seen a lot of each other this spring, going one-on-one countless times in drills and positional work, not to mention during scrimmages and team time. At 6-foot-8, 320 pounds, Nichols is a massive guy, a road-grader type that’s impressed coaches with his power and feet. Working under Harry Hiestand, who has lit a collective fire under his offensive line, it’s no surprise that Lynch, who practices like he plays, would mix like oil and water with the guy assigned to blocking him, who is also battling for a starting job.

While nobody wants it to happen, fights occur during practice. They’re also forgotten, as players and coaches move on. It’s certainly news-worthy information that an incident occurred. But it’s a pretty big stretch to think an in-practice fight would be enough to get someone to walk away from the football program. Again, nobody wants to see things come to blows, but when a near decade-long search for “nasty” football players has been at the top of Irish fans wish-lists, these kind of things happen.


A minor knee injury to linebacker Dan Fox will give linebackers Kendall Moore and Jarrett Grace a chance to see more of the field, as they’ll likely work in with Carlo Calabrese at the position opposite Manti Te’o. Grace was the first player to be dubbed a “werewolf” by defensive coordinator Bob Diaco (so that has to be a good thing), and has been really impressive this spring after almost working his way onto the field last season through a packed depth chart.

While Moore might have been the biggest loser when it came to Te’o returning for his senior season, he’s too good of an athlete and playmaker to keep off the field, and Fox’s injury should give Moore a chance to end spring with some momentum. The Irish will focus on recruiting insider linebackers, but there’s some intriguing depth that will give the Irish a chance to find a Corey Mays type player, someone who spent most of his career on special teams before earning his shot to start, before heading to the NFL.

Practice Report: Day Eight update

John Goodman

The Irish were back outside today, with the wind whipping through South Bend. But it allowed the Irish to get some work done outside the cramped confines of Loftus and allowed the UND.com video crew to pump out another enjoyable practice report. Just over half-way done with the spring work, we’re starting to get a look at how this offense will evolve, with a heavy emphasis put on running the ball and using the tight end, as different wide receivers do their best to state their case for touches.

Brian Kelly has publicly praised fifth-year wideout John Goodman. Whether it’s a sign that the lightbulb has gone on for Goodman, long one of the Irish’s most talented practice players, remains to be seen. Last spring, Kelly commented on the breakthroughs of wide receiver Deion Walker, but that didn’t result in the departing senior making a dent in the offensive.

As usual, here are a few things I noticed while watching and re-watching the practice footage.

  • 0:15 — Looked like another one of those typical windy spring days in South Bend. It didn’t stop Jack Nolan from braving the elements, though that jacket looks dangerously familiar to the one he wore last update? Say it ain’t so, Jack.
  • 0:26 — Blink and you probably missed him, but that was former Irish wide receiver David Grimes taking the field behind Brian Kelly. Grimes is working with the football program as a defensive intern.
  • 0:33 — Andrew Hendrix showing some mobility, as he picks his way through the Irish defense on a designed run.
  • 0:42 — Tommy Rees showing his mobility as well, running (for his life) as Aaron Lynch and Stephon Tuitt chase him.
  • 0:52 — That’s our Amir Carlisle spotting for the day.
  • 1:25 — A nice look at some running back protection drills, with linebackers going one-on-one with the first group of backs.
  • 1:26 — Nice rush move, Carlo Calabrese (#44).
  • 1:30 — Uh-oh, George Atkinson (#4). Jarrett Grace (#59) made you look pretty silly there. Pass protection is a process, and it looks like George is in the middle of learning that process now.
  • 1:45 — Nice job Theo Riddick (#6) on Kendall Moore (#8).
  • 1:50 — And that’s Cierre Wood (#20) absolutely stuffing Joe Schmidt (#38). For those who think Atkinson is doomed as a blocker, Cierre is proof that it’s a developed skill.
  • 2:00 — Manti Te’o vs. Atkinson. Not all that fair of a fight.
  • 2:10 — Nice look at Ben Councell (#30). Atkinson is a big kid. Councell looks mammoth.
  • 2:30 — Gotta do a better job than that, Jalen Brown (#21). Covering John Goodman (#81), Brown struggled to stay in the camera’s frame.
  • 2:37 — Tyler Eifert (#80) looks pretty smooth running patterns detached from the formation. The Irish could do a lot worse than playing Eifert as a jumbo receiver.
  • 2:55 — That’s Gunner Kiel (#1) delivering a nice throw to Daniel Smith (#87) in one-on-ones. Josh Atkinson (#43) looked a little soft in coverage, which is to be expected in these kind of drills.
  • 3:24 — That’s Calabrese playing the role of USF linebacker in everybody’s favorite nightmare, stripping Atkinson during goal line running drills and taking it back to the house.
  • 3:42 — An artistic look inside the soul of Manti Te’o. Who says the guys at UND.com aren’t auteurs?
  • 4:14 — Calabrese drops the hammer. Nice collision.
  • 4:30 — Danny McCarthy (#15) looks the part of an athletic safety. Let’s see if he’ll play it this year.
  • 4:40 — Cierre Wood’s swagger is in midseason form.
  • 4:55 — Alex Welch (#82) takes advantage of the size mismatch with Chris Salvi (#24). If you’re looking for a reason to keep two TEs on the field, here’s one of them.
  • 5:09 — Decisions like that aren’t going to win you a quarterback job, Andrew Hendrix. Looked more like Lo Wood (#23) was the receiver than Luke Massa (#14).
  • 5:15 — Heckuva throw by Everett Golson (#5) launching a deep ball to Goodman, who makes the catch over Wood. Maybe all Goodman needed was some hack blogger to take a shot at him for fumbling in a scrimmage. (The flip-side of that being Wood’s coverage on the deep ball isn’t all that awe-inspiring.)
  • 5:25 — Two nice plays on defense by the cornerbacks. First Bennett Jackson (#2) and then Wood.
  • 5:40 — If TJ Jones (#7) could streak behind defensive backs next season, that’d be a wonderful addition to the Irish offensive attack.
  • 5:46 — Want to see Bruce Heggie (#51) on rollerskates? Thank Kapron Lewis-Moore (#89).
  • 5:53 — This footage is from before Prince Shembo was put in a boot, but he flies around the edge and Jordan Prestwood (#79). Then Zack Martin (#70) shows Prestwood how to do it. I’m not sure, but we might be looking at ND’s next starting NFL left tackle.
  • 6:19 — Nice job of Tate Nichols (#64) hanging in there with Aaron Lynch (#19). Not an easy one-on-one assignment for anybody.
  • 6:27 — That’s Nick Martin (#72) standing up Ishaq Williams (#11). Looks like the Irish got another good one.
  • 6:33 — There’s a nice little burst in KLM’s step there. Looks pretty healthy after knee surgery.
  • 6:40 — Nice couple reps there by Tyler Stockton (#92) and Sheldon Day (#91).
  • 7:04 — Another nice grab by Goodman, snaring a bullet from Hendrix on a square in.
  • 7:25 — Looks like Robby Toma needs to tell Councell he’s trying to get some RB snaps. Councell knifes through and makes a very nice play.
  • 7:40 — Gunner Kiel to John Goodman long… Goodman channeling his inner Jonas Gray.


Fifth year candidates begin to emerge

Dan McCarty

News broke earlier in the week that walk-on special teams ace Chris Salvi was being rewarded with a scholarship. Now Eric Hansen of the South Bend Tribune has the list of fifth-year candidates that will go before the Faculty Board on Athletics for approval to return for next season.

Hansen reports that six seniors are in the final process of returning for next season: center Braxston Cave, center Mike Golic Jr., wide receiver John Goodman, defensive end Kapron Lewis-Moore, safety Dan McCarthy, and safety Jamoris Slaughter.

Cave, Lewis-Moore and Slaughter all spent significant time in the starting lineup last season, and their return was all but assumed. Sean Cwynar, who shared starting duties at nose guard with Louis Nix, had already decided not to return for a fifth season, though he would’ve likely been welcomed back. Goodman and Golic had also long been rumored to be returning, with Goodman providing senior depth at wide receiver while Golic has the opportunity to play the super-sub role Andrew Nuss filed last year as a graduate student.

Perhaps the biggest surprise is the return of McCarthy. In mid-November, it appeared that McCarthy was preparing himself for life after football, with the finance major ready to tackle the job market in his senior profile by the university’s school newspaper The Observer. But with the Irish recruiting class coming up short on a few targets, McCarthy will add veteran depth in the secondary, a position grouping that’s losing three of four starters and needs to replace captain Harrison Smith.

It’s been mentioned before and bears mentioning again that McCarthy’s older brother Kyle, now with the Kansas City Chiefs, was a near anonymous special teams player until his senior season, when he ascended into a starting role and then captained the squad during his fifth year. With new safeties coach Bobby Elliott getting his first look at the depth chart, there’s a chance McCarthy could battle for the nickel job and capitalize on the athleticism that made him the high school player of the year in Ohio his senior season.

Here’s a look at the projected 2012 Irish scholarship roster, broken down by class:

Graduate Students (7)

Braxston Cave
Mike Golic Jr.
John Goodman
Kapron Lewis-Moore
Dan McCarthy
Chris Salvi
Jamoris Slaughter

Seniors (15)

Carlo Calabrese
Jordan Cowart
Tyler Eifert
Dan Fox
Jake Golic
Zack Martin
Zeke Motta
Theo Riddick
Tyler Stockton
Nick Tausch
Manti Te’o
Robby Toma
Ben Turk
Chris Watt
Cierre Wood

Juniors (19)

Austin Collinsworth
Bruce Heggie
Andrew Hendrix
Bennett Jackson
TJ Jones
Christian Lombard
Luke Massa
Kendall Moore
Tate Nichols
Louis Nix III
Tommy Rees
Cameron Roberson
Kona Schwenke
Prince Shembo
Daniel Smith
Danny Spond
Justin Utupo
Alex Welch
Lo Wood

Sophomores (26)

George Atkinson III
Josh Atkinson
Chris Badger
Kyle Brindza
Jalen Brown
Amir Carlisle
Brad Carrico
Ben Councell
DaVaris Daniels
Matthias Farley
Everett Golson
Jarrett Grace
Conor Hanratty
Eilar Hardy
Matt Hegarty
Chase Hounshell
Ben Koyack
Aaron Lynch
Nick Martin
Cam McDaniel
Troy Niklas
Jordan Prestwood
Anthony Rabasa
Tony Springmann
Stephon Tuitt
Ishaq Williams

Freshman (17)

Nick Baratti
Chris Brown
Scott Daly
Sheldon Day
Justin Ferguson
Mark Harrell
Jarron Jones
Gunner Kiel
William Mahone
Davonte Neal
Romeo Okwara
CJ Prosise
KeiVarae Russell
Tee Shepard
Elijah Shumate
Ronnie Stanley
John Turner

Playmakers Wanted: John Goodman

John Goodman

(Note: This is the first in a series of fictional memos from Notre Dame’s No. 1 fan to key players for the 2012 Fighting Irish.)


To: John Goodman
From: Goldy Domer, #1 Irish Fan
Subject: Your final year of eligibility


Four years goes by quickly, doesn’t it? It seems like only yesterday we were hearing stories of your schoolboy exploits in Fort Wayne. You were dazzling people with your athleticism and speed — playing both wide receiver and quarterback, being named an Army All-American — it was like we’d never even miss Jeff Samardzija.

We all waited patiently that first year, understanding that there was quite the transition period from Bishop Dwenger quarterback to Notre Dame wide receiver. Those 95 miles from Fort Wayne to South Bend — likely spent dodging speeding tickets in small towns like Avilla, Wolcottville and Lagrange — probably felt a lot like that season for you, waiting to just get there already, waiting to finally… arrive.

We thought we all witnessed that moment. There you were, out in the slot — looking at your soon-to-be partner-in-crime, Dayne Crist, breaking off that post route and running away from a defensive back for a blink-and-you-missed it touchdown. Sure, it was a garbage time score against a lousy Washington State team, but it felt perfect. (Almost 40,000 views later, it still feels mighty good.)

But here’s the thing, John. We’d sure like to see it again.

Maybe it’s because we’ve watched that video so many times, but we thought we’d see plenty of you — making plays, using that size and speed we’ve heard so much about — but it just hasn’t happened yet. Yeah, it’s been a mixed bag at quarterback, but we kind of always thought we’d see you put together some dominant performances. Remember that crossing route you took for 30 yards against Miami in the Sun Bowl? My hands were numb, but I hope you heard me cheering from the stands in El Paso. Remember that nice catch in traffic against Wake Forest? Me too! I took the trip to Tobacco Road just for that. Wouldn’t it be great to see that every Saturday?

I’m sure you realize this John, but Michael Floyd is going to be playing on Sundays next season. That means there’s room for a different six-foot-three wide receiver for the Irish to step up and make plays.  There’s no reason it can’t be you, is there? Aren’t you faster than Mike? Can’t you jump practically out of the gym? We’ll give you a pass on punt returns, but we know it’s got to mean something that the coaches trust your hands more than any other set on the team. I’m not Brian Kelly, but it sure seems like a guy with your size, speed and hands should have a lot more than seven catches in 13 games. (Fair catches excluded, obviously.)

Thanks to a recruiting class that left a few open seats on the bus, you’re probably going to get a chance to spend a fifth season in the Irish football program. Wouldn’t it be great if you took your cues from Jonas Gray, a senior who had a lightbulb go off and put together a memorable final year in South Bend? Turn back the clock 12 months. Nobody thought he’d be at the NFL Combine. With a little hard work maybe that could be you next year, too.

Here’s the thing, John. We know you’re a good kid with a quirky sense of humor. But there are a whole lot of those guys at Notre Dame — every dorm is filled with them. We don’t want to change you. But we’d love it if you were the good kid with a quirky sense of humor that also caught 50 balls and became a terror in the red zone. Too much to ask?

Take it from an old washed-up nobody like me, John. College is one of the best times in your life. All those drives between home and school, all those stoplights that made it seem like you could ride a bike to South Bend faster than drive a car. Think that’s frustrating? They’ll be nothing compared to that drive ten years from now, if you leave some gas in your tank this offseason during strength and conditioning drills.

See you next year in Dublin. I’ll be the guy in green cheering you on.