Practice Observations: Freshmen

Observations of Notre Dame's 2013 signing class during the first two-hour practice of season open to the media.

RB Tarean Folston – Other than getting a few reps in as kick returner, Folston wasn't highly active in the offense. He appeared to be operating at half speed, so he could be nursing a sore leg injury. He did get reps in as punt returner, along with T.J. Jones, Amir Carlisle and Greg Bryant. He also got a few looks at kick returner. Carlisle offered an interesting quote post-practice:

"Tarean hasn't had much to do with the offense on the field yet, but he's really active in the film room, and you can tell he's going to be a great player."

RB Greg Bryant- This is one good-looking freshman. He practiced primarily with the second team, and in all individual drills he was paired with George Atkinson III. His legs just scream explosive, not to mention his upper body. Alford critiqued him a couple of times for not finishing the play, but that's something all freshmen learn in time. Like Folston, got reps with the kick and punt return team.

QB Malik Zaire practiced mainly with the third-team the entire time, but he was accurate in all of this throws made, and he doesn't lack zip on the ball, especially on throws made to the boundary. They didn't ask him to make any plays with his legs during 11-on-11, but he was practicing the zone read in hand-off drills with the running backs. Or… at least he thought he was. The point of the drill was for the quarterback to take the snap, step into the pocket and pitch it straight ahead to the running back. Zaire took it himself one time, and he was reprimanded by Kelly – "Pitch it every time in skill!"

A couple throws that stood out for Zaire:

- He found Corey Robinson on the boundary, perfectly finding the physically impressive freshman wide receiver in stride down the boundary for a gain of 15 or 20.

- A few plays later, Zaire scrambled to find Robinson again, and though the pass was slightly high, it looked like a rare miss for Robinson.

WR Corey Robinson – He practiced a lot with the second team (as did James Onwualu). Even though this was most likely because Daniel Smith and Chris Brown were slowed down by injury, Robinson is going to be in the mix a good amount this year. His size obviously stands out, but his hands may be the most underrated part of his game. He's going to get pushed around some against physical cornerbacks, but he'll surely be on the end of some fade throws in the red zone this season.

CB Cole Luke - The freshman corner was very active in the secondary and many times got reps with the second team. He can definitely add some size, but I think his ability to jam wide receivers and really pop you will earn him some quality minutes as a backup this season.

TE Mike Heuerman - More so than fellow freshman tight end Durham Smythe, Heuerman got in a good number of reps. A couple of times it looked like he was running at full speed but not completely sure of his role (in other words, a freshman), but he displayed a lot of energy and burst of speed and power when he was split out wide.

LB Jaylon Smith – First observation of the day that you can read way too much into: Kelly walked out of the Gug and across the practice fields talking to Smith the entire time. He certainly looks all of 6-foot-3, 230-pounds, and he was getting reps at DOG with the 2's. He looked fluid and extremely athletic, but a little timid on a few play calls. Whether he sees time at the DOG this year likely depends on Spond's health and Councell's continued development. Like Tim has predicted all along, IrishEyes.com expects Smith to see the most time in the nickel package and on special teams.

More from Tim:

S Max Redfield is in ridiculously good shape

Jaylon Smith's arms cut to the point where everyone saw him walk in and just shook their heads.

Steve Elmer is a big man, worked at backup left tackle today and Mike McGlinchey saw time at right tackle.

OG John Montelus worked the exercise bike.

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