Back to Work: Practice April 3

Notre Dame returned to the practice field today following a week-long break for the Easter Holiday. was on hand inside the Loftus Sports Center.

Still unseasonably cold temperatures greeted Wednesday morning in South Bend, forcing head coach Brian Kelly's Irish inside and on the Meyo Field turf as they resumed the spring session after seven days away from the practice field.

The media was allowed inside for the first six segments of practice, enough time to note the following:

  • Junior running back Amir Carlisle took part in each of the first six sessions. Carlisle broke his collarbone less than two weeks ago and had surgery on March 26, yet ran through drills in uniform, though without shoulder pads, an obvious non-contact situation.

  • Junior wide receiver DaVaris Daniels stood on the sidelines for the entire viewing period, also in uniform but sans pads. He did not participate, ceding his first-team spot to sophomore Chris Brown (detailed below).

  • Senior linebacker Danny Spond, senior offensive guard Bruce Heggie, and junior defensive lineman Chase Hounshell rode exercise bikes to start practice. Hounshell is out for the season after shoulder surgery while Heggie seemed to be favoring his right ankle, or at least his right leg. Spond wore a jersey and shorts but his injury was not apparent.

  • Senior cornerback Bennett Jackson and sophomore safety Nicky Baratti were in jerseys and pants but without pads. Both are recovering from off-season shoulder surgery; the latter participated in more drills.

  • 2014 offensive line prospects Sam Mustipher and Jamarco Jones were both on hand for today's practice.

  • Notre Dame brought in a team of officials for today's practice but the media was informed the group was there for instructional purposes. The Irish will not scrimmage today.

Offense: First and Second Units

Quarterback Everett Golson was joined by mainly the usual suspects: George Atkinson took the solo running back spot with T.J. Jones and Chris Brown aligned wide; senior Daniel Smith to the slot, and junior Troy Niklas as a detached tight end.

The first team offensive line included the fifth-year pairing of Zack Martin and Chris Watt at left tackle and left guard; Martin's younger brother Nick at center, with fellow junior Conor Hanratty occupying right guard and senior Christian Lombard the right tackle.

The second team was led by senior quarterback Tommy Rees joined by junior Cam McDaniel in the backfield. The No. 2 wide receivers included early enrollee freshman James Onwualu and senior Luke Massa wide, with redshirt-freshman C.J. Prosise in the slot. Prosise moved from safety to wide receiver during the off-season and has been one of the more notable names through the first third of the spring session.

The second unit offensive front was comprised of sophomore Ronnie Stanley at right tackle, walk-on Dan Furlong taking over for Heggie at left guard, junior Matt Hegarty at center, redshirt-freshman Mark Harrell to his right at guard, and early enrollee Steve Elmer at right tackle.

(I missed the No. 2 unit's tight end. A colleague noted he thought it was senior Alex Welch.)

Defense: First and Second Unit

The first-string defense offered no surprises, though junior linebacker Ben Councell took over at Dog in the injured Spond's stead. On the opposite flank at Cat was senior Prince Shembo, with junior Jarrett Grace aligned at the Mike 'backer and 5th-year senior Carlo Calabrese the Will.

The defensive line was comprised of junior Stephon Tuitt at right defensive end, senior Louis Nix on the nose, and sophomore Sheldon Day at RDE. Senior Lo Wood and sophomore Keivarae Russell manned the corners with junior Matthias Farley and sophomore Elijah Shumate as the safety pair.

Bob Diaco's second-unit defense showed junior Tony Springmann (right) and senior Justin Utupo (left) as defensive ends on either side of senior nose guard Kona Schwenke. Ishaq Williams worked as the Cat, Romeo Okwara the Dog, and senior Kendall Moore served as the Mike 'backer. Junior preferred walk-on Joe Schmidt was the second team Will linebacker in favor of junior Anthony Rabasa, who worked with the third team.

The No. 2 secondary showed juniors Jalen Brown and Josh Atkinson on the corners, with senior Austin Collinsworth and junior Eilar Hardy the safeties.

Joining Rabasa as scholarship third-teamers were redshirt-freshman Jarron Jones and 5th-year senior Tyler Stockton on the line, sophomore John Turner at one safety joined by 2010 early enrollee (but current sophomore in terms of eligibility) Chris Badger, who completed the drill with an interception.

The Irish defensive front later worked on footwork and hand placement in its 4-3 set, then was joined by the linebackers to work on proper run fits in the 3-4 alignment.

General Observations

The commitment of Carlisle to sprint through running back drills eight days after surgery on his broken clavicle is both commendable and telling: the former USC transfer is going to force his way on the field after missing 2012 due to foot surgery and complications thereafter. Young talent is on its way to the Irish offensive backfield this summer and Carlisle's not likely to be left in its wake…

It was impossible to discern what plagued junior starter DaVaris Daniels today, though we'll see his position coach, Mike Denbrock, post-practice for interviews. Daniels was fully removed from the proceedings though he did venture between the lines to listen to one period of instruction…

I watched the receivers for a pair of ball drills, one testing their footwork, break, and hand placement was particularly telling: T.J. Jones plucked the football effortlessly, both on high throws and proper passes fired toward his chest. His classmate Daniel Smith, known more for his blocking prowess, looked awkward bending for a low pass. He later collected the ball thrown to his numbers more so that stabbing it in flight as does Jones…

Senior Luke Massa show no signs of a torn ACL suffered one year ago (today)…Early Enrollee Corey Robinson made a nice grab of a pass high and behind him. I agree with a colleague who noted the 6'4" Massa seems taller than the (listed) 6'4 1/2" Robinson in helmet and cleats.

Junior running back George Atkinson won't remind anyone of Theo Riddick running under a passed football this season. Set for a potential breakout year as a runner, Atkinson is not confident as a pass-catcher. The masses looking to move Atkinson to a slot or wide receiver position have neglected the "receiving" aspect of the forward pass…

Passing the uniform test today: senior nose guard Kona Schwenke (now well-suited to his 295-pound frame), classmate Louis Nix (seemed to drop at least unnecessary pounds since my last viewing on March 20), and redshirt-freshman receiver C.J. Prosise, who looks huge and athletic wearing Cierre Wood's old No. 20…Early Enrollee James Onwualu has a nice frame at receiver. Irish fans will have to get used to No. 17 on the other side of scrimmage after it was donned the last four seasons by safety Zeke Motta

Update: Amir Carlisle is hiccup quick. Top Stories