Practice Report

Notre Dame began its spring practice session early Monday morning on Meyo Field inside the Loftus Sports Center.

First Look: Offense

The first unit offensive line: Ronnie Stanley (LT), Steve Elmer (LG), Matt Hegarty (Center), Christian Lombard (RG) and Mike McGlinchey (RT). Absent from the unit was starting center Nick Martin, in jersey and observing as he recovers from knee surgery following last November's Senior Day victory over Brigham Young. From left to right, total starts from the group include: 13, 4, 2, 20, and 0.

Sophomore Corey Robinson and junior Chris Brown aligned as the first string wide receivers with junior C.J. Prosise in the slot. Sophomore Tarean Folston served as the first unit's lone running back, senior Ben Koyack the tight end, and senior Everett Golson took his first official practice snap since April 2013.

Junior WR Chris Brown worked with the first unit today

The second unit offensive line was comprised of sophomore Hunter Bivin (LT), senior Conor Hanratty (LG), junior Mark Harrell (Center), sophomore John Montelus (RG), and sophomore Colin McGovern (RT). Sans Hanratty who started four times late last season, no member of the group has appeared with a game in doubt. Harrell -- who played briefly vs. Air Force and Rutgers -- is the lone member of the remaining quartet to participate in a college contest.

Sophomores Will Fuller and Torii Hunter, Jr., took their spots as the second unit wide receivers with senior Amir Carlisle in the slot. Sophomore Durham Smythe served as the No. 2 tight end with senior Cam McDaniel (first) and sophomore Greg Bryant (second) rotating at running back. Sophomore Malik Zaire was the quarterback.

First Look: Defense

Four defensive players wore jerseys and did not participate in practice: senior linebackers Jarrett Grace and Ben Councell, senior defensive lineman Tony Springmann, and sophomore cornerback Devin Butler.

The first unit defensive line showed a defensive end pairing of senior Ishaq Williams and junior Romeo Okwara with a pair of juniors inside, Jarron Jones and Sheldon Day. Sophomore Jaylon Smith aligned to the field as an outside linebacker while 5th-year senior Kendall Moore and senior Joe Schmidt worked as inside 'backers. Ishaq Williams was on the boundary side of the formation, suggesting his alignment could have been as a Cat linebacker (rather than true defensive end). His hand, however, was on the ground.

Elijah Shumate ran with the second unit at S

The first unit secondary was comprised of Keivarae Russell (field) and Cole Luke (boundary) at cornerback with Max Redfield (boundary) and Austin Collinsworth (field) as the safeties.

Backing up the defensive backs were cornerbacks Jalen Brown (field) and Matthias Farley (boundary) with recently converted sophomore wide receiver James Onwualu and junior Elijah Shumate at safety.

The second unit inside 'backers were a pair of sophomores Doug Randolph and Michael Deeb, with junior John Turner aligned as the backup outside linebacker. The second string defensive line showed Chase Hounshell and Anthony Rabasa at ends with Justin Utupo and Isaac Rochell inside. Rabasa aligned to the field, suggesting again he'll man the dual role of Cat 'backer in a 3-4 and DE in a 4-3.

The third string defensive unit included a selection of walk-ons, plus sophomore defensive linemen Jacob Matuska (inside) and early enrollee Andrew Trumbetti (DE). Michael Deeb and Kendall Moore took extra reps to work with the third team in relief of walk-on inside linebacker Austin Larkin.

Sophomore Rashad Kinlaw aligned as a third-string scholarship cornerback as did senior Josh Atkinson. Junior Nicky Baratti and senior Eilar Hardy worked as third unit safeties.

Early Observations

The offense was more than 50 yards away from the media's perch atop the west end zone of Meyo Field, but as noted by head coach Brian Kelly on Friday, early enrollee wide receiver is well put together and in no way resembles a competitor that should be in his final semester of high school.

-- Senior CB Matthias Farley worked as the first-team nickel defender when new defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder asked for the sub package.

-- Fellow January enrollee Andrew Trumbetti will need more girth to withstand a season of pounding, but his arms resemble an upperclassmen's.

-- Ishaq Williams gained 15 pounds according to his 271-pound listing, but he wears it well.

-- Injured seniors Tony Springmann and Jarrett Grace had noticeable limps while walking but it's likewise relevant both jogged at times between stations.

-- Converted receiver James Onwualu moved fluidly in his back pedal -- not surprisingly, he looked at ease catching the football during interception drills.

-- Notre Dame's defensive line was instructed by position coach Mike Elston to break down into "Ends, Nose Guards, and Tackles" during early drill work.

-- Everett Golson showed plenty of zip on his passes in his return to action, but I never left a practice in either 2011 or 2012 questioning his arm strength or accuracy and he's always offered a tight spiral.

-- Both Will Mahone and Amir Carlisle worked exclusively with the receivers in our 30 minutes of viewing. The pair worked with running backs in practices last season as RB/Slot competitors.

-- It might have been my vantage point (though I had binoculars), but sophomore tight end Durham Smythe appeared noticeably taller and bigger overall than classmate Mike Heuerman.

-- Kelly chatted with ESPN's Tom Rinaldi during early drills. The network will have a special on the Irish from this, its first camp stop of the spring.

-- Outside temperature in South Bend at the outset of practice: 3.5 degrees.

-- 59 scholarship players were referenced above (Notre Dame has 61 for the spring including K Kyle Brindza and LS Scott Daly). 15 did not play a snap for the Irish last season while at least four others participated in fewer than 20 (including special teams and scrimmage). A whopping 13 are returning from suspension, injury, or are at present injured.

-- Irish head coach Brian Kelly will speak with the media today after practice, as will Everett Golson, one of eight players available for interviews. (Ben Koyack, Christian Lombard, Kyle Brindza, Joe Schmidt, Matthias Farley, Sheldon Day, and Cam McDaniel). Many of the requested underclassmen have class commitments precluding them from early morning interviews.

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