Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly will meet with the media today at 2 p.m. ET to preview spring practice, which will begin tomorrow morning. Typically, this will include a positional change or two, some strength and conditioning praise, and positive remarks about the early-enrolled freshmen.
In those respects, it seems likely someone or other will join the three scholarship running backs already on the roster. The Irish will want at least one more body working through that rotation from Tuesday’s outset. Kelly’s thoughts about the early enrollees could be longer than usual, considering seven joined the roster this semester.
One area Kelly will likely not delve into much, if at all, is the options at punt returner and kick returner. Of the “Spring Outlook” series the last couple weeks, special teams was not addressed. Kicker, kickoff specialist, punter and long snapper will include no drama, with rising senior Justin Yoon, rising sophomore Jonathan Doerer, fifth-year Tyler Newsome and rising junior John Shannon respectively holding each of those positions. The return duties, though, should be up for grabs. The outgoing transfer of receiver C.J. Sanders will especially create a vacuum at kick return.
That progress of that competition will not be much seen by the outside world during the spring, and the Blue-Gold Game (April 21) typically does not include any returns whatsoever. Furthermore, the speedster duo of incoming freshmen receivers Braden Lenzy and Lawrence Keys could insert themselves as possibilities in the summer.
In the meantime, keep that question mark in mind. It had to at least be mentioned to consider the “Spring Outlook” breakdowns complete.
Cade McNamara decommits
Consensus four-star quarterback Cade McNamara (Demonte Ranch High School; Reno, Nev.) de-committed from a seven-plus month pledge to Notre Dame on Friday. Recent offers from the likes of Alabama, Georgia and USC certainly influenced McNamara’s thought process. He did not completely rule out reconsidering the Irish in comments to a local Nevada news station, but such certainly sounds unlikely.
“I believe [Notre Dame] might still try to recruit me,” McNamara said. “As of right now, I cannot see myself playing for Notre Dame just because I feel it’s not the best fit for me. That’s where I stand right now.”
This de-commitment sparks two thoughts pertaining to incoming freshman quarterback Phil Jurkovec. First of all, Jurkovec spoiled Irish fans in his recruitment. He never wavered, seeming to hardly care about the recruiting process at all. That was the exception — McNamara’s step backward is more akin to the norm.
Secondly, it is likely Jurkovec’s presence discouraged McNamara as much as those new scholarship offers opened the high school junior’s eyes to other possibilities. When McNamara committed to Notre Dame in mid-July, Jurkovec had not yet put together a senior season in which he greatly elevated his standing in many views, even if his refusal to partake in recruiting gimmicks capped his ratings. Whomever Notre Dame signs at quarterback in the class of 2019 will walk onto campus one year behind a top-flight quarterback, one who will quite possibly still have four years of eligibility remaining. For anyone with aspirations of making a collegiate impact in the next two or three years, following Jurkovec onto the Irish roster may not be the best decision.
Remember Braden Lenzy’s wise words
In his recruitment, Lenzy committed to Notre Dame, flipped to Oregon and then flopped back. In that process, he saw the irrational nature of many fans obsessing over the decisions of high schoolers.
“It got to where I would cringe every time my phone buzzed,” Lenzy wrote in an essay for “The Players’ Tribune.” “… I wish I could say I just brushed off the negative messages, or that I was big enough to just ignore them entirely. But that wouldn’t be true. I did read them, and I thought about them a lot.”
Don’t be that guy.
NFL Combine Results
Led by left guard Quenton Nelson, five former Irish offensive cogs took part in the NFL Combine the last few days. Nelson cited a tweaked muscle in not doing the 40-yard dash, because obviously that is a necessary metric when evaluating an offensive lineman, but he did put up 35 reps on the bench press, the second-most among the offensive linemen. He entered the combine already a top-prospect, and Nelson only enhanced that image.
Left tackle Mike McGlinchey managed 24 reps on the bench press, and running back Josh Adams reached 18. Neither of them ran the 40, either, both likely to do so at Notre Dame’s Pro Day on March 22.
Receiver Equanimeous St. Brown (pictured at top) ran a 4.48-second 40-yard dash after getting to 20 reps on the bench press, while tight end Durham Smythe notched a 4.81-second dash and 18 bench reps.
Of the 11 receivers who ran faster than St. Brown, none stood as tall as his 6-foot-5 frame, making his performance one that may catch draft evaluators’ eyes. Similarly, in a year with a weak tight end class, Smythe seems to be in the process of playing his way up draft boards.
INSIDE THE IRISH READING:
— Monday’s Leftovers: Guessing Notre Dame’s win total over/under along with some Michigan math
— Notre Dame’s receivers, now without both St. Brown and Stepherson
— Notre Dame’s defensive backs, stellar cornerbacks and concerning safeties
— Notre Dame’s offensive line, a search for a fifth starter
— Notre Dame’s quarterbacks, a competition between Wimbush and Book … and Davis?
— Ranking the OT prospects for the 2018 NFL Draft (led by McGlinchey)
— Ranking the interior OL prospects for the 2018 NFL Draft (led by Nelson)
— Guard Quenton Nelson an enticing draft option
— Jeff Samardzija reflects on choosing MLB over NFL
— Don’t kid yourself, ‘Field of Dreams’ is a bad movie