Notre Dame exits spring ball 2015 with enviable to top tier depth wide receiver; with a clear-cut 1-2 at running back, and with emerging reserve options at tight end.
If a game were scheduled tomorrow, Notre Dame’s rotation would likely include Malik Zaire, six wide receivers, two running backs, and two, perhaps three tight ends.
QB: Malik Zaire, DeShone Kizer, Montgomery VanGorder
Notes: Work remains for Zaire as a mid-range passer, but there are no doubts regarding his arm, speed, strength, quickness, leadership, and toughness. Whatever “It” is, Zaire has it.
RB: Tarean Folston, C.J. Prosise
Notes: Prosise’s ascent since the outset of spring ball is staggering. If pressed to choose an unofficial offensive MVP of the spring, I’d label left tackle Ronnie Stanley 1A and Prosise 1B. Despite the suspension of junior Greg Bryant, the Irish are in good shape at running back heading into August camp -- but they'll be in much better shape if one of the team's pair of incoming freshmen, Dexter Williams or Josh Adams, immediately turns heads.
Field ("X") WR: Will Fuller, (Torii Hunter), Corey Holmes
Notes: Fuller operated through most of spring ball with a cast on his hand and did not miss meaningful reps. The question surrounding Fuller for 2015 isn’t if he’s the most underrated player at his position, but simply if he’s the best? Holmes struggled with drops during the majority of our practice viewings but he made a pair of nice plays in the Blue Gold scrimmage.
Torii Hunter can also back up Fuller at the X. He worked the majority of this spring in the slot in Prosise’s stead.
Boundary ("W") WR: Chris Brown, Corey Robinson, Justin Brent
Notes: Robinson missed a mid-session chunk of camp due to a concussion, but the Brown/Robinson listing will be, as it was last season, fluid, and likely unnecessary. They’ll both play often.
Brent could use an exceptionally strong summer to chip away at the perceived massive lead the pair has over the Speedway, Indiana sophomore. For Brent, it’s a matter of consistency, not ability.
Slot ("Z") WR: Amir Carlisle, (C.J. Prosise), Torii Hunter
Notes: Carlisle began and ended the spring as the team’s No. 1 slot receiver, due in large part to Prosise’s presence in the backfield. Hunter received the bulk of No. 2 reps inside and would be an intriguing backup option for the fall.
TE: Durham Smythe, Tyler Luatua, Nic Weishar, Chase Hounshell Notes: Smythe emerged as the team’s top tight end as expected, a reality noted by Kelly, position coach Scott Booker, and offensive coordinator Mike Sanford. Luatua, Weishar, and even the former defensive end Hounshell showed marked improvement in spring ball. Mike Heuerman was medically disqualified but will remain at the University.
Notre Dame’s top position group exiting spring ball is likely to maintain a stranglehold on that status throughout the 2015 season…and perhaps beyond.
LT: Ronnie Stanley, (Alex Bars), Hunter Bivin
LG: Quenton Nelson, Alex Bars, Colin McGovern, Jimmy Byrne
C: Nick Martin, Sam Mustipher, Trevor Hoge
RG: Steve Elmer, John Montelus, Colin McGovern
RT: Mike McGlinchey, (Alex Bars), Colin McGovern, Mark Harrell
Notes: Though no decisions were announced (at any position), popular opinion has redshirt-freshman Quenton Nelson slightly ahead of his classmate, Alex Bars, for the open left guard position. Bars is capable of being the line’s No. 1 player off the bench at left and right guard and left and right tackle, and he would likely spell Nelson at the position during competitive action if the Irish were to suit up against Texas this Saturday.
The Irish Illustrated staff consensus includes steps forward by John Montelus, Colin McGovern, and Sam Mustipher, with Hunter Bivin perhaps treading water in a spring session during which he needed to improve.
Due to inclement weather, a low roof in the Loftus Center (indoor practice facility), and the fact that nearly 25 percent of the 2015 roster is not yet on campus, the reality of the spring is specialty units can't take meaningful shape until August Camp.
K: Tyler Newsome, John Chereson (2013 preferred walk-on). Both are keeping the spot warm for incoming freshman Justin Yoon.
PR: Will Fuller and incoming freshmen such as C.J. Sanders, Shaun Crawford, etc.
KR: Amir Carlisle; C.J. Prosise was the lead candidate for the secondary return man role occupied from 2012-2014 by Cam McDaniel prior to Bryant's suspension, but his work load on ST might need to decrease as a result.
Holder: DeShone Kizer, Malik Zaire
LS: Scott Daly, Hunter Smith
P: Tyler Newsome