With Brian Kelly hosting his annual coaches clinic, Notre Dame’s practice field is filled with high school coaches (and some intriguing recruits) taking a look under the hood of the Irish program.
After a slow start to the video rollout, the sixth practice of spring gave us an extended look at some of the work being done on the field. So here are a few videos released by our friends at UND.com, including some words from quarterback Malik Zaire.
First, get to know new assistants Todd Lyght and Mike Sanford as they wear microphones along with Kelly during practice.
One key takeaway: While we see these 15 practices as competition for a starting spot, at this point, there’s a reason to believe Kelly when he talks about skill development. So while we’re all focused on depth charts and QB battles, getting better is the key to spring.
Next Jac Collinsworth and the FIDM team give us another look at practice. After hearing Kelly rave about freshman Jerry Tillery, we get to see the big man in action. Considering Tillery should be thinking about prom not spring practice, this is a massive kid who looks more like a guy who should be playing on Sunday than someone going through their senior slide.
We also get a look at sophomore cornerback Nick Watkins. I was a little surprised at how little we saw of Watkins last season, especially as injuries began to pile up. But the transition into college football is harder for some than others, and there’s room for Watkins to step in and play if he’s willing to take it—and that’s likely dictating how Lyght pushes him this spring.
Lastly, here’s Zaire. For a young guy who is still learning the ABCs of playing quarterback, he’s got the perfect attitude to be a leader in this program.
(Even if he forgot to mention Will Fuller and C.J. Prosise.)
There’s no question that this team identifies Zaire as a clearcut team leader. While he’s not as advanced throwing the football as Golson, Zaire’s ability to lead the football team—at this point, mostly as a battering ram—shouldn’t be questioned, though his work with Sanford will likely determine his ability to run the entire offense.
It’s worth mentioning: Zaire’s only a sophomore eligibility wise. So whether or not the starting job comes this fall, his best football is still to come.
In another segment of his sit-down, Zaire was more candid. Specifically when he was asked about a time-share at quarterback in 2015.
“It’s not the ideal situation,” Zaire acknowledged. “At the end of the day, there’s only one Captain Jack Sparrow of the offense. Coach Kelly makes decisions on the team, I don’t get paid to make decisions—I wish I did. I do what I’m supposed to do and however it plays out, it plays out. So I have to make the most of my opportunities and go from there.”