Practice Report: April 12

Notre Dame worked through its 11th of 15 allowed spring practice sessions today inside the Loftus Sports Complex.

Good news outweighed the bad on the injury front today as sophomore wide receiver Chris Brown, feared to have suffered a serious hamstring injury, practiced today in full pads.

Sources told Irisheyes.com this week that the rapid recovery of Lo Wood has been slowed due to soreness as the senior cornerback recovers from August 2012 Achilles surgery. That claim seemed backed by Wood's presence on the third team defense and on the sidelines with fellow defensive backs Nicky Baratti and Bennett Jackson, both of whom have been limited this spring after off-season shoulder surgery.

Wood remained in full pads while Baratti, Jackson, and 5th-year senior Dan Fox donned uniforms but no shoulder pads as has been the case all spring.

Today's first string secondary included one new face, junior cornerback Josh Atkinson. It was Atkinson's classmate, Jalen Brown, that ran with the first unit in our previous viewing Monday (practice No. 9). Atkinson today was joined by sophomore Keivarae Russell at cornerback with the safety tandem identical to each practice viewing to date: Matthias Farley on the boundary and Elijah Shumate to the field.

The second string secondary was comprised of safeties Austin Collinsworth (boundary) and Eilar Hardy (field), with Brown and walk-on (#47) on the corners.

Wood was one of seven scholarship players on the third unit including two more defensive backs, safeties Chris Badger and John Turner.

Front Seven

Defensive line coach Mike Elston's front showed junior Stephon Tuitt and sophomore Sheldon Day as the ends flanking senior Louis Nix on the nose.The trio was backed per usual by ends Tony Springmann and Justin Utupo aligned to either side of senior nose guard Kona Schwenke.

Scholarship defensive linemen Jarron Jones (DE) and Tyler Stockton (NG) took their normal spots with the third unit.

Coordinator Bob Diaco's linebackers showed a first unit of Dan Fox (sans shoulder pads and his famous long locks) and Carlo Calabrese inside, with Prince Shembo (Cat) and Ben Councell (Dog) on the flanks. The second unit included senior Kendall Moore and junior Jarrett Grace as the Will and Mike, with senior Danny Spond (Dog) and junior Ishaq Williams (Cat). Romeo Okwara worked with the third team as a Cat, joined by junior Anthony Rabasa at the Mike.

Depth Chart Notes -- Defense The presence of Atkinson with the first unit, Spond with the second, and Wood with the third is more than likely reflective of the number of reps the trio was set for at today's session, not official standing. Spond has missed time with a neck/shoulder injury while the aforementioned Wood was obviously limited, sitting out a footwork drill in which each defender was asked to then administer a solid hit in space.

First, Second, and Third Units: Offense

Very few changes today though injuries have cause shuffling among skill position players as well.

Quarterback Everett Golson was joined by expected starting receivers T.J. Jones and DaVaris Daniels wide, with redshirt-freshman C.J. Prosise again in the slot. Troy Niklas was again the first tight end with classmate George Atkinson the No. 1 running back as he's been throughout the spring.

Both Ben Koyack and Alex Welch took reps as first unit tight ends in relief of Niklas.

The first string offensive line showed no change (from left to right): Zack Martin, Chris Watt, Nick Martin, Conor Hanratty, and Christian Lombard. Hanratty wasn't forced to pull double duty today thanks to the return of backup right guard Mike Harrell. Harrell was joined by backups Ronnie Stanley (LT), Bruce Heggie (LG), Matt Hegarty (Center), and early enrollee Steven Elmer (RT).

Second string receivers were Corey Robinson and Chris Brown wide with a pair of early enrollees inside: James Onwualu in the slot and Mike Heuerman at tight end. Junior running back Cam McDaniel joined Tommy Rees in the backfield. Andrew Hendrix took reps in relief of Rees.

Third-string players of note were Luke Massa (WR), Will Mahone (RB), Malik Zaire (QB) and walk-on Joey Brooks. The Irish do not yet have a third-string offensive line. A quartet of freshmen will help change that in August camp.

Per usual, injured RB/Slot Amir Carlisle does not take part in the unit's tempo drill, though he catches passes and runs routes in the ensuing segment.

Observations: Offense

Carlisle continues to impress in skeleton drills, making a leaping catch of a pass behind him on an out route, though for the first time this spring, I saw him drop a pass…Will Mahone is viewed as a power back (and noted by Kelly as such), the redshirt-freshman is a natural football player. Mahone appears a solid athlete with coordination and soft hands in a compact frame…

Backup LT Ronnie Stanley has a sizable brace on his left elbow due to off-season surgery; he's expected to be full-go in August and will be a crucial No. 3 tackle, for after Stanley, it's all true freshmen at the ready…Granted a medical scholarship for the 2013 season, right tackle Tate Nichols worked out with the team in full pads today. If that wasn't Nichols, there's another 6'8" 320 pound white guy running around campus who just happened to don Nichols old #67 today.

(Correction: #67 was indeed a Nichols clone, walk-on Kevin Carr.

Junior tight end Troy Niklas has remarkable hands for a 6'7" 260-plus pound athlete. He simply plucks the ball from the air…Walk-on Joey Brooks covers a fair amount of ground quickly and has no trouble catching a high pass. He'll need to polish his routes to see the field in special situations this fall.

No. 1 ranked FOX Sports NEXT prospect Michiah Quick took in the Irish practice today.


IrishIllustrated.com Top Stories