Friday Focus

A practice open to the media, the annual coach's clinic, and a pair of veterans awaiting news of future eligibility highlight our morning briefing and look at the weekend.

Notre Dame's 2012 Football Coach's Clinic began Thursday night. Featured guest speaker this year are former UCLA quarterback and head coach of the Bruins, Washington Huskies, and Colorado Buffaloes, Rick Neuheisel and Harvard head coach, Tim Murphy.

The clinic continues today with breakout presentations by head coach Brian Kelly and each of Notre Dame's position coaches, as well as segments from Strength & Conditioning coach Paul Longo, new Director of Player Development and Engagement Ernest Jones, and Sports Nutrition Program Director, Erika Whitman.

Prior to its conclusion Saturday afternoon, media will have the opportunity to witness a full practice for the first time since last spring. Irisheyes.com will have multiple reports following the practice over the course of the weekend.

Holding out hope

Notre Dame captains Tim Abromaitis and Scott Martin await their fate from the NCAA regarding potential sixth seasons of eligibility. Martin missed two seasons, one due to transfer; the second to a knee injury in his first year with the Irish. Normally a transfer season would not qualify for sixth-year consideration, but the Valparaiso, Ind., resident spent much of the year with his father, Scott, transporting him to and from Chicago for treatments of a rare eye cancer.

Abromaitis missed all but two games last season with a torn ACL and was voluntarily withheld from action as a sophomore – a redshirt season. The greatest argument in his favor isn't the technical bylaws of his redshirt season, but rather the fact that he's among the greatest student-athletes in college basketball history.

Curiously, head coach Mike Brey offered that not all of Abromaitis' appropriate paperwork had been submitted for consideration as of Wednesday, April 11. He expects Martin to learn his fate as early as this weekend, though that's been a recurring theme since mid-March.

Heading South

Five verbal pledges and one 2013 prospect are slated to visit the town where the St. Joe River bends south for next weekend's Blue Gold Game. Wide receiver Laquon Treadwell (Crete, Illinois, 4 stars from Scout.com) will be on hand to watch a thin receiving corps and quartet of quarterbacks compete in the annual contest.

Also slated to attend are three of the team's four offensive line pledges: Hunter Bivin, Steve Elmer, and Colin McGovern, as well as incoming receiver prospects Corey Robinson and James Onwualu, with the latter pair likely to be in 6'3" 190-pound Treadwell's ear from the outset.

Spring Surges

Though this list is probably best left for after the media's full practice viewing on Saturday, the following is a recap of veterans who've appeared to make significant strides this spring:

Theo Riddick: A repeat of 2011's uneven campaign appears unlikely. If in good health, the senior RB/Slot competitor is Irisheyes.com's pick-to-click in his final season. Riddick has six touchdowns during the Kelly era - 10 in 2012 is a reasonable projection from the player that could finish second on the squad in overall touches behind classmate and lead runner, Cierre Wood.

John Goodman: From nondescript in 2010 to frustrating and ineffective in 2011, the 5th-year senior remains confident he can put his confirmed 4.45 40-yard dash time to use on the field in his final go-round. (We'll have more on Goodman in a forthcoming feature column.) Most important, he's earning the coaching staff's trust after two years of inconsistent practice habits.

Kona Schwenke: Its safe to assume Louis Nix will again win the nose guard job during August camp; its likewise logical that the reshaped Schwenke will see ample snaps spelling the 325-pound junior cog in the middle.

Others of Note: Sophomore George Atkinson looks considerably more sturdy in his attempt to earn backfield carries and much less like a very fast high school kid playing college football as he did last fall...S Austin Collinsworth will play significant snaps in the secondary next fall...Backup LB Jarrett Grace continues to impress though he'll likely toil behind All-American Manti Te'o who will lead the defense in snaps played...Mike Golic, Jr., and Christian Lombard are nearly guaranteed competitive action due to their versatility at C/G and G/T, respectively. I expect one of the pair to start at RG with Tate Nichols winning the RT role, though that's one man's call, admittedly five months too early.


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