Changes confirmed: Clelland to DE, Paskorz to LB

Brian Kelly spoke this morning at the Hall of Fame Luncheon and revealed a few tidbits as Spring Practice gets ready to begin.

* As rumored, Lane Clelland has been moved to defensive end. I’m incredibly high on this switch and really think Clelland has the chance to be more than just a role player and turn into a great player along the defensive front. Clelland certainly has the size to work as a 3-4 defensive end, and his background as a prep wrestler bodes well for the transition as well. (See Laws, Trevor for example.)

While Clelland spent the past two seasons as a offensive tackle and not a tight end, if he’s looking for inspiration he doesn’t need to look much further than Brian Kelly’s last switch to defensive end, former Cincinnati Bearcat and current Houston Texan Connor Barwin.

Barwin went from a reserve tight end and special teams player to a first-team All-Big East defensive end, making the move to defense as a senior and putting together a monster season with 12 sacks, 20 quarterback pressures, 8 pass deflections, and three blocked kicks. Barwin’s one season at defensive end got him picked in the second round of the NFL Draft by the Texans. Barwin likely will be much more of a speed guy than someone like Clelland, but Lane’s athleticism, as well as his knowledge of offensive tackle, will likely be a huge assets as he learns a new position.

* Kelly also confirmed Steve Paskorz’s switch to inside linebacker. With the fullback position not heavily utilized in Kelly’s spread attack, the move makes perfect sense as well, and Paskorz looks capable of making the shift. Listed at 6-foot-2, 245 pounds, Paskorz has the size necessary to play the position and spent his redshirt freshman season as a reserve linebacker, so he won’t exactly be starting over.

* Kelly also refuted the rumors that Cierre Wood was switching to safety, and he’ll be lining up as a running back when Spring Practice gets underway. Also on the depth chart at tailback will be Jonas Gray, who was the subject of rumors that had him potentially missing workouts for a variety of reasons.

More updates to come from Notre Dame’s Pro Day, where James Aldridge, Sergio Brown, Paul Duncan, Kyle McCarthy, Raeshon McNeil, Eric Olsen, Robby Parris, Morrice Richarson, Scott Smith, Toryan Smith, Golden Tate and Sam Young are scheduled to work out. Also joining the guys will be 2008 graduates David Grimes and Asaph Schwapp. Twenty-six NFL teams are in attendance.   

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