This is how it’s supposed to work.
Freshmen arrive in the summer, don’t know what they don’t know about a college weight program all fall, then click into gear with strength and conditioning coordinator Paul Longo during their first winter workouts. That’s been the case virtually every off-season under Brian Kelly and was again this time as Notre Dame opened spring practice today.
Nine players added at least seven pounds this offseason. Seven were freshmen, led by Jay Hayes packing on 20 pounds to get to 285.
Four players lost at least eight pounds this offseason. Three were freshmen, with the other being defensive tackle turned tight end Chase Hounshell, cutting 20 pounds to get to 255 and representing one of the bigger surprises of the spring roster. The fifth-year senior candidate is on a virtual tryout for the next month.
“Chase knocked down my door, wouldn't leave me alone, just kept coming back and saying, ‘Coach, I want to be part of this team. I have something to offer,’” Kelly said. “We're going to give him a shot at the tight end position. Nothing has been decided. He's willing to go through spring and give it a shot and we'll see where it goes from there.”
The more substantive weight changes came from Hounshell’s old position, where the Irish have more options than open positions with Jonathan Bonner (+6 to 275 pounds) and Jhonny Williams (+8 to 260 pounds) now live. Andrew Trumbetti (+4 to 255 pounds) added some weight too.
“Bonner is going to play our big end position. He's put on a lot of weight,” Kelly said. “He's going to be over there with (Isaac) Rochell. He's in a very important position for us. We really like what we see from him right now. So a lot of eyes on him.
“Jhonny Williams, he's put on a lot of weight. I think we weighed him in this morning at 256. He's probably a little heavy right now. He's put on a lot of weight. We got to probably sculpt him up a little bit. This is like a first run-through for him. We need to see how he handles that weight through the process.”
The biggest losers beyond Hounshell were Tyler Luatua (-10 to 250 pounds), Daniel Cage (-10 to 315 pounds) and Pete Mokwuah (-8 to 317 pounds).
Alex Bars made the biggest jump among offensive linemen, adding 11 pounds to hit 316. That makes the red-shirt freshman the second-biggest offensive lineman on the squad, trailing only classmate Quenton Nelson (325 pounds) as the pair battles for the open guard spot vacated by Matt Hegarty.
Bars cross-trained at tackle and guard during bowl prep but will focus on the interior line this spring as he competes for a starting spot. Ronnie Stanley and Mike McGlinchey have the tackle positions locked up, meaning the staff can throw Bars fully into the guard rotation.
“Our focus will be, in fairness to (Bars), that he gets a fair shot to be a starter at left guard,” Kelly said. “I don't want to pull him out. Harry (Hiestand) and I talked about it, we do not want to short change his reps at the left guard position and give Quenton an advantage at that position.”