A look at defensive backs and ends in practice videos

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This post could simply be the two embedded videos below, but you’re busy. It is Wednesday, after all, and you do not want to sit through any excess football video.

Wait, what’s that? With a full month to go still before a bona fide Irish game, you’re willing to watch as much pads-less practice footage as you can get your hands on? Well, fair enough. But nonetheless, what harm is there in pointing you toward a few specific moments within the clips?

Starting with the highlight reel pushed out by Notre Dame …

Last year’s performance left many Irish fans concerned about the defense moving forward. It seems fitting these 74 seconds seem to focus on some defensive highlights. What may be most impressive is the number of different defensive backs breaking up passes.

At the 0:41 mark, that is junior cornerback Shaun Crawford intercepting a pass intended for junior receiver Chris Finke. If he had been healthy last season (Achilles), it may have been expected to see Crawford make such a sharp break on the ball. Him coming away with the pick, though, warrants notice, especially with Finke’s hands in the mix.

At 0:48, senior rover Drue Tranquill gets his hand in at the last possible moment to knock a pass away from senior tight end Nic Weishar.

At 0:55, sophomore safety Jalen Elliott knocks away a pass despite being a touch out of position to these eyes.

And at 1:01, sophomore cornerback Donte Vaughn steps in front of a ball intended for freshman tight end Brock Wright on the sideline.

Yes, Notre Dame chose to put a spotlight on these plays for a reason, and yes it is a practice without pads, but it should also be noted the Irish managed only eight interceptions last season. These glimpses of practice indicate the ball-hawk tendencies preached by defensive coordinator Mike Elko just might take hold.

Now then, a second video was promised. The action pieces of this 2:16 clip from Blue & Gold Illustrated may not show as much as the preceding video did, but that is primarily due to restrictions placed on media at these practices.

The opening of the two-plus minutes, though, focuses on the defensive ends, and it may be of some worth to get a look at those frames and any version of explosiveness displayed against a blocking sled. In order: senior Andrew Trumbetti (98), senior Jay Hayes (93), sophomore Daelin Hayes (9), sophomore Julian Okwara (42), sophomore Khalid Kareem (53), sophomore Ade Ogundeji (41) and freshman Jonathon MacCollister (92).

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Friday at 4: Jack Swarbrick’s time at Notre Dame marked by retained Irish independence, not by hires or construction

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When Jack Swarbrick walks out of his Notre Dame offices for the last time at some point early in 2024, after nearly 16 years as the director of athletics, one thing will be beyond debate: Swarbrick will have left his mark at Notre Dame.

He took over after Kevin White left South Bend for the same role at Duke in 2008. While an athletic director has to worry about far more than football, Notre Dame’s athletic director will always be most judged by that program, and the Irish were coming off their losingest season ever, going 3-9 in 2007.

Charlie Weis would get two seasons under Swarbrick to try to right that ship, so it was not immediately realized the decade of checks the Irish athletic department was saddled with, but it was clear: Swarbrick inherited a football program, and thus an athletic department, that needed work.

He then hired the winningest football coach in Notre Dame history, navigated Brian Kelly’s surprise exit when 2021 Playoff hopes still lingered and instilled stability into the program in a moment that could have been absolute chaos.

Between those hires, Swarbrick oversaw the installation of turf at Notre Dame Stadium — it did not replace grass, it replaced literal dirt. He expanded the Stadium to include far more luxury suites and seats, perhaps a half-measure waiting for more work given the reality of who attends live sporting events nowadays. Swarbrick blessed the comedy of the visitors’ tunnel in the Stadium’s northeast corner and the return of night games beginning with the 2011 tilt against USC, though the piped-in audio playlist that October night was far from ready.

Add in the renovations to Purcell Pavilion and building Compton Family Ice Arena and those were the changes every fan noticed during Swarbrick’s 15 years-and-counting. Those along with hiring Brian Kelly and then Marcus Freeman, not to mention women’s basketball coach Niele Ivey (replacing Muffet McGraw after 33 years) and men’s basketball coach Micah Shrewsberry (replacing Mike Brey after 23 years), making Notre Dame one of two FBS schools with Black head coaches leading all three programs (joining Syracuse).

In the short-term, Freeman’s, Shrewsberry’s and Ivey’s success will determine how Swarbrick is remembered, and in that order. No matter how 2023 goes for Freeman and imported quarterback Sam Hartman, years 3-5 of Freeman’s tenure will alter how Swarbrick’s tenure is retroactively perceived. The stability he conjured in 2021 was the product of deft maneuvering, yet it largely dissipated when the Irish lost to Stanford last season. Freeman’s coming successes or failures will be remembered and tied to Swarbrick far more than a hyped week a couple of Decembers ago.

Yet, how Freeman fares should not be the top bullet point attributed to Swarbrick. His long-term achievement of keeping Notre Dame independent through the 2010s and now seemingly through the 2020s has been the singular task of Swarbrick’s tenure.

The partial membership with the ACC, announced in 2012 and beginning in 2014, staked the Irish position through the first round of modern conference realignment. As Maryland, Rutgers and Nebraska all joined the Big Ten and the Big East crumbled under ACC influence, Swarbrick found a position for Notre Dame to continue as a football independent without sacrificing viability in any other sports. If it seemed like he had the Irish straddling a line, one foot in a conference and one foot out, that is because the balance of setting up basketball, hockey and all other sports for success while keeping football in a position unique to Notre Dame required such figurative flexibility.

That allowed the NBC partnership to continue unabated. It allowed the Irish to continue facing USC every season. And it gave Mike Brey, Muffet McGraw and Jeff Jackson conceivable paths to national title contention.

Navigating that same balance the last couple of years while the College Football Playoff pondered expansion solidified Swarbrick’s long-term stamp at Notre Dame. The Irish are now positioned to be a perennial Playoff contender when it expands to 12 teams next year, all while remaining a football independent during this Big Ten and SEC arms race.

The hiring of NBC Sports Group Chairman Pete Bevacqua to succeed Swarbrick certainly suggests the Notre Dame-NBC relationship will continue. (Writer’s Note: Those conversations occur about a dozen levels above this scribe and no NBC information trickles down to this keyboard.) If/when that officially extends past 2025, Irish football should be again clearly independent for the foreseeable future.

The day may come when that independence ends, but the fact that it persisted through the 2010s and is unlikely to end in the 2020s is a testament to Swarbrick’s understanding of the national landscape.

However Freeman, Ivey and Shrewsberry fare, whatever anyone thinks of the expanded Notre Dame Stadium, Jack Swarbrick keeping Notre Dame football independent of a conference in two decades of massive changes to college football is the landmark accomplishment of his 16 years as Irish athletic director.

Notre Dame 99-to-0: No. 74 Billy Schrauth, sophomore left guard, likely starter

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Listed measurements: 6-foot-4 ½, 304 pounds.
2023-24 year, eligibility: A sophomore, Schrauth has all four seasons of eligibility remaining.
Depth Chart: Schrauth pushed through a crowded field this spring, a position competition including senior Michael Carmody and junior Rocco Spindler, to emerge as the leader at left guard when preseason practices begin.
Recruiting: The No. 3 offensive guard and No. 68 overall recruit in the class, Schrauth’s recruitment will be best remembered for being the first task for Marcus Freeman after he was named Notre Dame’s head coach. Freeman quite literally went from his introductory press conference straight to Fond du Lac, Wis. Less than a week later, the consensus four-star had joined the Irish class rather than heading to his homestate power.

CAREER TO DATE
Schrauth did not play in 2022, at least in part due to a left-foot surgery when he first arrived at Notre Dame, the result of an injury that he played through in the final month of his senior season of high school.

NAME, IMAGE, LIKENESS
Schrauth keeps a low profile in terms of social media and such, but Notre Dame’s in-house social media team gave away his progress a couple times this spring. While the Blue-Gold Game featured fractured offensive lines, an intrasquad scrimmage in Notre Dame Stadium a week earlier offered better looks at the tiered units. At the 27-second mark of this video, spot Schrauth lined up alongside preseason All-American left tackle Joe Alt, Schrauth taking on a rush from senior defensive tackle Rylie Mills while Alt squares off with senior end Jordan Botelho.

Only the imagination tells how the snap ended, cut off in the video’s edit, but those three other names are all clear-cut starters, which makes it apparent Schrauth likely will be, too.

That same week, a social-media video with a mic on new offensive line coach Joe Rudolph showed Schrauth lined up between Alt and fifth-year center and three-year starter Zeke Correll at least three times, as well as a fourth moment of those three in conversation with Rudolph.

In a starting role along an offensive line looking to return to Joe Moore Award-status, some name, image and likeness rewards should quickly flow Schrauth’s way.

QUOTES
The quote that will stick to Schrauth for years to come will be, quite simply, “It’s about hitting guys. I just like hitting guys.”

Schrauth said that with crutches at his side in his first media availability last winter as an early enrollee, and that mentality obviously fits the exact ethos wanted from an offensive lineman.

RELATED READING: Foot surgery can’t slow the roll of ND freshman O-line prodigy Schrauth

Rudolph saw that mentality, as well, when he arrived in South Bend this winter.

“What is different about Billy is he’s got an edge,” Rudolph said in mid-April. “He’s got an edge that truly brings a feeling of physicality, a toughness, a grit.”

WHAT WAS PROJECTED A YEAR AGO
“Schrauth played through a left foot injury in his senior season of high school. No further damage was done, but it was enough of a concern that he had surgery on the foot within a week of arriving on Notre Dame’s campus.

“Thus, Schrauth’s spring lifting was done largely one-legged. He missed all of spring practices.

“He may have garnered praise similar to Spindler a year ago, seen as a worthy contributor if the offensive line needed him. Instead, the focus is now on Schrauth getting fully healthy.

“A 300-pound teenager on a stressed foot warrants caution. There is no need to rush Schrauth back. Even if he could be listed on the two-deep, Notre Dame will have options at guard. From (Josh) Lugg, Carmody and Spindler, there is also fifth-year center Jarrett Patterson. Some speculation already expects Patterson to move to guard (and senior Zeke Correll to start at center). If so, that is another body ahead of Schrauth in that pecking order. If not, any long-term injury at guard would immediately reignite such speculation, again dropping Schrauth down the pecking order.

“For 2022, Schrauth may be out of the mix, but that should pay off for him in terms of health.”

2023 OUTLOOK
Schrauth worked his way into the starting lineup in the spring, and establishing cohesion among that first-team unit will be an August priority after Notre Dame’s offensive line opened each of the last two seasons sluggishly. Thus, preseason tinkering should be kept to a minimum.

Rather, the Irish should drive forward with the look of, from left to right, Alt – Schrauth – Correll – fifth-year Andrew Kristofic – junior Blake Fisher.

Since his freshman year, Alt has been lauded for his presnap communication. Back then, Jarrett Patterson was starting at center, and he regularly commented on how Alt would be blunt and loud in what he saw before the snap, and that played a part in the Notre Dame offensive line finding form as the season progressed.

That should now come at Schrauth’s benefit, lining up between a pair of three-year starters. It will not just be Alt’s ability to set an edge and Correll’s willingness to stick his head into a blitzing linebacker that will set up Schrauth for success, but also their preparation before those pass rushers even begin their assaults. If Schrauth is in the right position and understands his assignment, his physical skills should take care of the rest. That is one thing in practice — where Rudolph admitted Schrauth still has growing to do — but an entirely different thing in games. Having veterans like Alt and Correll next to him may elevate Schrauth from a learning sophomore into a distinct offensive asset.

DOWN THE ROAD
Schrauth needs to take advantage of those tutors in 2023 because Alt should not be around in 2024 and Correll may well not be, either. With Kristofic a fifth-year veteran already, though having eligibility through 2024, and it not being beyond possibility that Fisher could join Alt in the NFL draft, Schrauth might be Notre Dame’s only returning offensive lineman in 2024.

That is unlikely but not impossible.

Either way, the left side of the line will need to replace Alt, and part of that process will be Schrauth repaying the presnap perks he enjoys this season.

NOTRE DAME 99-TO-0
The summer countdown begins anew, Rylie Mills to Deion Colzie
No. 99 Rylie Mills, senior defensive tackle, moving back inside from end
No. 98 Devan Houstan, early-enrolled four-star defensive tackle
No. 97 Gabriel Rubio, junior defensive tackle, one of three Irish DTs with notable experience
No. 95 Tyson Ford, sophomore defensive tackle, up 30 pounds from a year ago
No. 92 Aidan Keanaaina, a senior defensive tackle now ‘fully healthy’ after a 2022 torn ACL
No. 91 Aiden Gobaira, sophomore defensive end, former four-star recruit
No. 90* Brenan Vernon, incoming freshman defensive end, four-star recruit
No. 90* Boubacar Traore, incoming freshman defensive end, four-star recruit
No. 88 Mitchell Evans, the next starter at ‘TE U’
No. 86* Cooper Flanagan, incoming freshman tight end, four-star recruit
No. 85 Holden Staes, sophomore tight end, up 20 pounds in a year
No. 84 Kevin Bauman, senior tight end coming off a torn ACL
No. 83 Jayden Thomas, junior receiver, probable No. 1 target in 2023
No. 79 Tosh Baker, senior tackle, again a backup but next year …
No. 78 Pat Coogan, junior interior offensive lineman
No. 77 Ty Chan, sophomore offensive tackle, former four-star recruit
No. 76 Joe Alt, first-team All-American left tackle
No. 75 Chris Terek, incoming freshman offensive lineman, four-star recruit
Rhode Island transfer safety Antonio Carter gives Notre Dame desperately needed backline depth
Penn State RB transfer Devyn Ford gives Notre Dame newly-needed backfield depth, experience

Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick to step down in 2024, to be succeeded by NBC’s Pete Bevacqua

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Notre Dame director of athletics Jack Swarbrick will step down in early 2024 after more than 15 years in the role, the University announced Thursday morning. NBC Sports Chairman Pete Bevacqua will succeed Swarbrick, first joining Notre Dame this July as a special assistant to University President Fr. John Jenkins, focusing on athletics.

Sports Illustrated’s Pat Forde first reported these plans.

“It speaks volumes about Notre Dame and Father Jenkins’ leadership that we can implement such a well-conceived succession plan and attract someone of Pete’s talent and experience,” Swarbrick said in a statement. “I have worked closely with Pete throughout his time at NBC and based on that experience, I believe he has the perfect skill set to help Notre Dame navigate the rapidly changing landscape that is college athletics today and be an important national leader as we look to the future. I look forward to helping Notre Dame’s student-athletes and coaches achieve their goals in the months ahead while also helping Pete prepare for his tenure as athletics director.”

Swarbrick took over the role in the summer of 2008. Since then he hired football head coaches Brian Kelly and Marcus Freeman, as well as women’s basketball coach Niele Ivey and men’s basketball coach Micah Shrewsberry, navigated Notre Dame’s partial entry into the ACC and kept the Irish actively engaged with the twice-expanded College Football Playoff.

Swarbrick told Sports Illustrated he would “love to do one more thing in the industry,” suggesting this is not an outright retirement for him, but it was important to him for Jenkins to choose the next AD.

“There’s a sense that it’s the appropriate time,” Swarbrick said. “It’s important for Father John to make the selection of the next AD, because I don’t know how much longer he’s going to go.”

A 1993 alumnus of Notre Dame, Bevacqua has worked at NBC since 2018, securing a Big Ten partnership that goes into effect this summer, as well as extending NBC’s deals with the NFL and the PGA Tour.

SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio At 2018 PGA Merchandise Show - Day 2
Pete Bevacqua, left, with former Notre Dame head coach Lou Holtz in 2018. (Photo by Gerardo Mora/Getty Images for SiriusXM)

“This is an unbelievable honor for me and a dream come true,” Bevacqua said in a statement. “With the exception of my family, nothing means more to me than the University of Notre Dame. As a Notre Dame alum, I have a keen understanding and deep appreciation of the lifetime, transformational benefit our student-athletes receive in a Notre Dame education, one that is unique and unlike any other institution in the world.”

NBC has broadcast every Notre Dame home game since the 1991 home opener with the current deal running through the 2025 season.

Notre Dame 99-to-0: No. 75 Chris Terek, incoming freshman offensive lineman, four-star recruit

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Listed measurements: 6-foot-6, 295 pounds
2023-24 year, eligibility: An incoming freshman, Terek has all four seasons of eligibility remaining.
Depth Chart: Terek will come nowhere near Notre Dame’s two-deep this season, needing to focus more on strength and conditioning while also getting a better feel for the idea of a move to an interior, something the Irish will at least consider with Terek.
Recruiting: A long-time Wisconsin commit, Terek reconsidered his college destination when the Badgers abruptly and rather surprisingly fired Paul Chryst. The rivals.com four-star joined Notre Dame’s class right about the exact same time Wisconsin was announcing the hiring of Luke Fickell.

“Notre Dame, they’ve got a pretty crazy track record,” Terek told Inside ND Sports. They do very well with their O-linemen. (Former Irish offensive line) coach (Harry) Hiestand is awesome. And they seem like they’re really building something there.”

WHAT WAS SAID WHEN TEREK SIGNED IN DECEMBER
“His massive lower body — which Notre Dame strength and conditioning coordinator Matt Balis should enjoy molding — gives Terek ample power, something that Hiestand could turn loose on many Irish running plays. …

“Give Terek some time to develop physically before locking him into the two-deep anywhere.”

NAME, IMAGE, LIKENESS

2023 OUTLOOK
Do not expect to hear Terek’s name again until the spring. That is not a knock on him, not in any regard. Rather, it is an acknowledgment of what to expect from most freshmen offensive linemen and, in particular, what to expect from them when Notre Dame has 17 scholarship offensive linemen on the roster.

Five of them are freshmen, and while early enrollee Sam Pendleton could perhaps crack the paper version of a three-deep at center, none should press for playing time in 2023.

Terek, perhaps more than the others, will need the year with no expectations. He played right tackle in high school, and the Irish are likely to try him out on the interior. At 6-foot-5, he is not yet too long to play inside, but much more vertical growth could change that.

Learning the interior footwork will be enough of a task for Terek as a freshman, along with the usual strength and conditioning work.

DOWN THE ROAD
With 17 scholarship offensive linemen knocking around, and three already committed in the next class, position competitions will be the norm moving forward, though there will naturally be front runners.

Current sophomore Billy Schrauth and fifth-year Andrew Kristofic should emerge as the starting guards this season. If Kristofic spurns his final year of eligibility in 2024, current junior Rocco Spindler should get next crack at a starting role.

Both Schrauth and Spindler could be around in 2025, with current junior Pat Coogan supplementing them if he has not grabbed hold at center. Only then can names like Terek, classmate Joe Otting and sophomore Ashton Craig begin to be considered.

All of which is to say, Notre Dame is in an enviable position. Offensive line talent is scarce on the transfer market. Individual players need to be staring at uphill trajectories like this if the program wants to be a genuine contender instead of just the 10th team into the expanded Playoff.

WHY No? 75?
Terek wore No. 77 in high school, but current sophomore Ty Chan owns those digits in the Irish locker room. With offensive linemen largely focused on numbers in the 70s, 75 is one of just two available numbers (along with No. 71).

Perhaps Terek drops to No. 67, but for this penciling him into the content calendar, 75 fits well enough.

NOTRE DAME 99-TO-0
The summer countdown begins anew, Rylie Mills to Deion Colzie
No. 99 Rylie Mills, senior defensive tackle, moving back inside from end
No. 98 Devan Houstan, early-enrolled four-star defensive tackle
No. 97 Gabriel Rubio, junior defensive tackle, one of three Irish DTs with notable experience
No. 95 Tyson Ford, sophomore defensive tackle, up 30 pounds from a year ago
No. 92 Aidan Keanaaina, a senior defensive tackle now ‘fully healthy’ after a 2022 torn ACL
No. 91 Aiden Gobaira, sophomore defensive end, former four-star recruit
No. 90* Brenan Vernon, incoming freshman defensive end, four-star recruit
No. 90* Boubacar Traore, incoming freshman defensive end, four-star recruit
No. 88 Mitchell Evans, the next starter at ‘TE U’
No. 86* Cooper Flanagan, incoming freshman tight end, four-star recruit
No. 85 Holden Staes, sophomore tight end, up 20 pounds in a year
No. 84 Kevin Bauman, senior tight end coming off a torn ACL
No. 83 Jayden Thomas, junior receiver, probable No. 1 target in 2023
No. 79 Tosh Baker, senior tackle, again a backup but next year …
No. 78 Pat Coogan, junior interior offensive lineman
No. 77 Ty Chan, sophomore offensive tackle, former four-star recruit
No. 76 Joe Alt, first-team All-American left tackle
Rhode Island transfer safety Antonio Carter gives Notre Dame desperately needed backline depth
Penn State RB transfer Devyn Ford gives Notre Dame newly-needed backfield depth, experience