Irish Notes: Media Day

A rundown of today’s topics at Brian Kelly’s annual media day extravaganza.

THIS IS HOW THE SAGA ENDS?
368 days ago, the University of Notre Dame called a press conference to announce it had discovered “academic dishonesty” among its student body. Included were five current football players, of which two – KeiVarae Russell and Ishaq Williams – are hopeful to suit up for Brian Kelly’s Irish for the 2015 season.

Though the last 53 weeks were dominated by the media’s fascination with the subject, its pertinent culmination was presented not with a bang, but a whimper.
 
“By the way, KeiVarae was fully cleared by the NCAA and reinstated, so he is back with us,” said Kelly in the midst of answering an innocuous question regarding his failed 2014 defense. “Like how I dropped that one in there? Pretty cool, huh?”

Not at fortunate, or better put, not as diligent in his pursuit, is Williams. His appeal remains pending.

“He had just finished getting his information. He had to write an appeal,” said Kelly. “His part had appeal that he had to personally put together as well. That's been completed. That has been sent off to the NCAA, so now that goes through the process of them looking at his appeal.”

Make that 53 weeks and counting.

BACK IN THE SADDLE
Jaylon Smith, Ronnie Stanley, Will Fuller, the aforementioned KeiVarae Russell, and Sheldon Day.

Reasonable minds can disagree on ordering, but there’s little doubt the above quintet represent Notre Dame’s top five players heading into 2015 – each ranks as a national competitor at his position.

One from the group didn’t exactly hit the ground running in the eyes of his head coach. More like clutching and grabbing.

“I think KeiVarae was rusty coming in,” said Kelly, asked today about Russell’s competition with Fuller. “He really needed to be here, and it's great that he's gotten to work. (Defensive backs coach) Todd Lyght's done a terrific job with all of those guys…so KeiVarae has gotten so much better.

“There was a little too much clutching and grabbing, and I think a lot of that was when you're out of pads for a year, you can't duplicate by jumping on boxes. It looks good on video, but you've got to play the game. You've got to put pads on and you've got to get out there. And he is a different player than he was when he got in here because he wasn't that good. Now he's back to where, okay, that's KeiVarae, you know? That's the guy that we remember.”

“The first couple of weeks, it wasn't much. We were running past him, and he was holding us and grabbing us. Now you can start to see him, his technique is coming back, his discipline is coming back, and it's nice to see.”

BEST OF THE BEST?
Fellow linebacker Joe Schmidt referred to him today as, “a mutant.” Brian Kelly called him “the mainstay” of his 2015 defense.

And defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder offered of his defense, “They can’t all be Jaylon Smith’s out there.”

Jaylon Smith is everybody’s All-American as of mid August. Kelly seems confident he’ll make good on that projection in September, October, and beyond.

“He is an essential figure in what we do. He's all over the field for us defensively, and we'll make sure that we move him around to put him in a position for him to impact what we do defensively,” said Kelly. “He's no longer somebody that just ties down one position. He can play multiple positions on our defense, and we think he's one of the best football players in the country.”

As for an increased presence as a team leader, Kelly offered of his true junior, “Jaylon desperately wants to be called upon at any time to be that guy out front. We have no problem doing that. I will take him side by side with me anywhere I go, and he's it's great that he holds others accountable, and he's one of our best players.”

More important, he’d be one of anyone’s best players.

BIG MAN ON CAMPUS, THANKFULLY
Ronnie Stanley’s well-documented return to Notre Dame in pursuit of his degree made for good off-season fodder.

But what between the lines has allowed him to go from “good” to projected first round NFL Draft pick?

“Physically he's athletically off the charts for his size,” said Kelly. “Long, athletic, the ability to move his feet -- now bring the strength element into it. He's so much stronger, and then has a great understanding of the game of football.

“Now (enter) the leadership component. I love where he is on that end. I think he's grown so much maturity-wise. I think the players have a great amount of respect for him and when he talks, people listen.”

Said offensive line coach Harry Hiestand of his star pupil.

“Another year in the weight room, another year of working out. But in terms of the big picture: getting that degree from Notre Dame. If he didn’t finish it now, he wouldn’t finish it. You’re not going to come back and finish it.”

Now he has a chance to finish at the highest level.

CATCH 22?
Kelly was asked today what he believed had developed as the biggest strengths and weaknesses at the program over his six-season tenure – tied for the sixth-longest for a head coach in program history.

“We’ve developed depth within the program, and I think that's probably something that has taken time and one that we've really committed ourselves to in terms of not straying from what we believe are the right fits here at Notre Dame.

“Those that recognize the value of a degree here at Notre Dame and are committed to what a Notre Dame education is about and playing for championships. So that's taken some time. That's the foundation of our strength.

“Our weaknesses: I think we have to continue to look at ways as we continue to move the bar academically here, we have to continue to support our student athletes and continue to look for ways to make sure that our kids are solid, solidly supported academically, and I think we're making great progress there. Those would be a couple that come to mind right away.”

YES, 12-0 WILL SUFFICE
Queries regarding comparisons to teams or individuals of the glorious past are more often than not met with disdain by members of the coaching fraternity.

That was not the case for Kelly today, asked today to compare his 2015 talent level to that of his best team to date, the national runner-up Irish of 2012. 

‘Well, it's a faster team. It's a more athletic team,” he said of the new crew. “We’re deeper at virtually all positions across the board, both on the offensive line and the defensive line. Maybe we don't have singularly one superstar here or there, but the depth of the group is a whole different football team than that group.

“That was a unique group in that they knew how to win, had great leadership – look, winning teams have a special group of guys that find ways to win, and that group did.

“But this is, from an athletic standpoint, and from a physical prowess standpoint, a deeper football team.”

They’re also 0-0.


IrishIllustrated.com Top Stories

\r\n

THIS IS HOW THE SAGA ENDS?
\r\n368 days ago, the University of Notre Dame called a press conference to announce it had discovered “academic dishonesty” among its student body. Included were five current football players, of which two – KeiVarae Russell and Ishaq Williams – are hopeful to suit up for Brian Kelly’s Irish for the 2015 season. \r\n

Though the last 53 weeks were dominated by the media’s fascination with the subject, its pertinent culmination was presented not with a bang, but a whimper.
\r\n  
\r\n “By the way, KeiVarae was fully cleared by the NCAA and reinstated, so he is back with us,” said Kelly in the midst of answering an innocuous question regarding his failed 2014 defense. “Like how I dropped that one in there? Pretty cool, huh?”

\r\n

Not at fortunate, or better put, not as diligent in his pursuit, is Williams. His appeal remains pending.

\r\n

“He had just finished getting his information. He had to write an appeal,” said Kelly. “His part had appeal that he had to personally put together as well. That's been completed. That has been sent off to the NCAA, so now that goes through the process of them looking at his appeal.”

\r\n

Make that 53 weeks and counting.

\r\n

BACK IN THE SADDLE
\r\n
Jaylon Smith, Ronnie Stanley, Will Fuller, the aforementioned KeiVarae Russell, and Sheldon Day.

\r\n

Reasonable minds can disagree on ordering, but there’s little doubt the above quintet represent Notre Dame’s top five players heading into 2015 – each ranks as a national competitor at his position.

\r\n

One from the group didn’t exactly hit the ground running in the eyes of his head coach. More like clutching and grabbing.

\r\n

“I think KeiVarae was rusty coming in,” said Kelly, asked today about Russell’s competition with Fuller. “He really needed to be here, and it's great that he's gotten to work. (Defensive backs coach) Todd Lyght's done a terrific job with all of those guys…so KeiVarae has gotten so much better.

\r\n

“There was a little too much clutching and grabbing, and I think a lot of that was when you're out of pads for a year, you can't duplicate by jumping on boxes. It looks good on video, but you've got to play the game. You've got to put pads on and you've got to get out there. And he is a different player than he was when he got in here because he wasn't that good. Now he's back to where, okay, that's KeiVarae, you know? That's the guy that we remember.”

\r\n

“The first couple of weeks, it wasn't much. We were running past him, and he was holding us and grabbing us. Now you can start to see him, his technique is coming back, his discipline is coming back, and it's nice to see.”

\r\n

BEST OF THE BEST?
\r\n Fellow linebacker Joe Schmidt referred to him today as, “a mutant.” Brian Kelly called him “the mainstay” of his 2015 defense.

\r\n

And defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder offered of his defense, “They can’t all be Jaylon Smith’s out there.”

\r\n

Jaylon Smith is everybody’s All-American as of mid August. Kelly seems confident he’ll make good on that projection in September, October, and beyond.

\r\n

“He is an essential figure in what we do. He's all over the field for us defensively, and we'll make sure that we move him around to put him in a position for him to impact what we do defensively,” said Kelly. “He's no longer somebody that just ties down one position. He can play multiple positions on our defense, and we think he's one of the best football players in the country.”

\r\n

As for an increased presence as a team leader, Kelly offered of his true junior, “Jaylon desperately wants to be called upon at any time to be that guy out front. We have no problem doing that. I will take him side by side with me anywhere I go, and he's it's great that he holds others accountable, and he's one of our best players.”

\r\n

More important, he’d be one of anyone’s best players.

\r\n

BIG MAN ON CAMPUS, THANKFULLY
\r\n Ronnie Stanley’s well-documented return to Notre Dame in pursuit of his degree made for good off-season fodder.

\r\n

But what between the lines has allowed him to go from “good” to projected first round NFL Draft pick?

\r\n

“Physically he's athletically off the charts for his size,” said Kelly. “Long, athletic, the ability to move his feet -- now bring the strength element into it. He's so much stronger, and then has a great understanding of the game of football.

\r\n

“Now (enter) the leadership component. I love where he is on that end. I think he's grown so much maturity-wise. I think the players have a great amount of respect for him and when he talks, people listen.”

\r\n

Said offensive line coach Harry Hiestand of his star pupil.
\r\n
\r\n “Another year in the weight room, another year of working out. But in terms of the big picture: getting that degree from Notre Dame. If he didn’t finish it now, he wouldn’t finish it. You’re not going to come back and finish it.”

\r\n

Now he has a chance to finish at the highest level.

\r\n

CATCH 22?
\r\n Kelly was asked today what he believed had developed as the biggest strengths and weaknesses at the program over his six-season tenure – tied for the sixth-longest for a head coach in program history.

\r\n

“We’ve developed depth within the program, and I think that's probably something that has taken time and one that we've really committed ourselves to in terms of not straying from what we believe are the right fits here at Notre Dame.

\r\n

“Those that recognize the value of a degree here at Notre Dame and are committed to what a Notre Dame education is about and playing for championships. So that's taken some time. That's the foundation of our strength.

\r\n

“Our weaknesses: I think we have to continue to look at ways as we continue to move the bar academically here, we have to continue to support our student athletes and continue to look for ways to make sure that our kids are solid, solidly supported academically, and I think we're making great progress there. Those would be a couple that come to mind right away.”

\r\n

YES, 12-0 WILL SUFFICE
\r\n Queries regarding comparisons to teams or individuals of the glorious past are more often than not met with disdain by members of the coaching fraternity.

\r\n

That was not the case for Kelly today, asked today to compare his 2015 talent level to that of his best team to date, the national runner-up Irish of 2012. 

\r\n

‘Well, it's a faster team. It's a more athletic team,” he said of the new crew. “We’re deeper at virtually all positions across the board, both on the offensive line and the defensive line. Maybe we don't have singularly one superstar here or there, but the depth of the group is a whole different football team than that group.

\r\n

“That was a unique group in that they knew how to win, had great leadership – look, winning teams have a special group of guys that find ways to win, and that group did.

\r\n

“But this is, from an athletic standpoint, and from a physical prowess standpoint, a deeper football team.”

\r\n

They’re also 0-0.

\r\n

\r\n

\r\n \r\n

\r\n

\r\n

See what Notre Dame fans are saying here

\r\n\r\n","mobileBody":"
[MEDIA:MzAsNTY3NTgw]

THIS IS HOW THE SAGA ENDS?
368 days ago, the University of Notre Dame called a press conference to announce it had discovered “academic dishonesty” among its student body. Included were five current football players, of which two – KeiVarae Russell and Ishaq Williams – are hopeful to suit up for Brian Kelly’s Irish for the 2015 season.

Though the last 53 weeks were dominated by the media’s fascination with the subject, its pertinent culmination was presented not with a bang, but a whimper.

“By the way, KeiVarae was fully cleared by the NCAA and reinstated, so he is back with us,” said Kelly in the midst of answering an innocuous question regarding his failed 2014 defense. “Like how I dropped that one in there? Pretty cool, huh?”

Not at fortunate, or better put, not as diligent in his pursuit, is Williams. His appeal remains pending.

“He had just finished getting his information. He had to write an appeal,” said Kelly. “His part had appeal that he had to personally put together as well. That's been completed. That has been sent off to the NCAA, so now that goes through the process of them looking at his appeal.”

Make that 53 weeks and counting.

BACK IN THE SADDLE
Jaylon Smith, Ronnie Stanley, Will Fuller, the aforementioned KeiVarae Russell, and Sheldon Day.

Reasonable minds can disagree on ordering, but there’s little doubt the above quintet represent Notre Dame’s top five players heading into 2015 – each ranks as a national competitor at his position.

One from the group didn’t exactly hit the ground running in the eyes of his head coach. More like clutching and grabbing.

“I think KeiVarae was rusty coming in,” said Kelly, asked today about Russell’s competition with Fuller. “He really needed to be here, and it's great that he's gotten to work. (Defensive backs coach) Todd Lyght's done a terrific job with all of those guys…so KeiVarae has gotten so much better.

“There was a little too much clutching and grabbing, and I think a lot of that was when you're out of pads for a year, you can't duplicate by jumping on boxes. It looks good on video, but you've got to play the game. You've got to put pads on and you've got to get out there. And he is a different player than he was when he got in here because he wasn't that good. Now he's back to where, okay, that's KeiVarae, you know? That's the guy that we remember.”

“The first couple of weeks, it wasn't much. We were running past him, and he was holding us and grabbing us. Now you can start to see him, his technique is coming back, his discipline is coming back, and it's nice to see.”

BEST OF THE BEST?
Fellow linebacker Joe Schmidt referred to him today as, “a mutant.” Brian Kelly called him “the mainstay” of his 2015 defense.

And defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder offered of his defense, “They can’t all be Jaylon Smith’s out there.”

Jaylon Smith is everybody’s All-American as of mid August. Kelly seems confident he’ll make good on that projection in September, October, and beyond.

“He is an essential figure in what we do. He's all over the field for us defensively, and we'll make sure that we move him around to put him in a position for him to impact what we do defensively,” said Kelly. “He's no longer somebody that just ties down one position. He can play multiple positions on our defense, and we think he's one of the best football players in the country.”

As for an increased presence as a team leader, Kelly offered of his true junior, “Jaylon desperately wants to be called upon at any time to be that guy out front. We have no problem doing that. I will take him side by side with me anywhere I go, and he's it's great that he holds others accountable, and he's one of our best players.”

More important, he’d be one of anyone’s best players.

BIG MAN ON CAMPUS, THANKFULLY
Ronnie Stanley’s well-documented return to Notre Dame in pursuit of his degree made for good off-season fodder.

But what between the lines has allowed him to go from “good” to projected first round NFL Draft pick?

“Physically he's athletically off the charts for his size,” said Kelly. “Long, athletic, the ability to move his feet -- now bring the strength element into it. He's so much stronger, and then has a great understanding of the game of football.

“Now (enter) the leadership component. I love where he is on that end. I think he's grown so much maturity-wise. I think the players have a great amount of respect for him and when he talks, people listen.”

Said offensive line coach Harry Hiestand of his star pupil.

“Another year in the weight room, another year of working out. But in terms of the big picture: getting that degree from Notre Dame. If he didn’t finish it now, he wouldn’t finish it. You’re not going to come back and finish it.”

Now he has a chance to finish at the highest level.

CATCH 22?
Kelly was asked today what he believed had developed as the biggest strengths and weaknesses at the program over his six-season tenure – tied for the sixth-longest for a head coach in program history.

“We’ve developed depth within the program, and I think that's probably something that has taken time and one that we've really committed ourselves to in terms of not straying from what we believe are the right fits here at Notre Dame.

“Those that recognize the value of a degree here at Notre Dame and are committed to what a Notre Dame education is about and playing for championships. So that's taken some time. That's the foundation of our strength.

“Our weaknesses: I think we have to continue to look at ways as we continue to move the bar academically here, we have to continue to support our student athletes and continue to look for ways to make sure that our kids are solid, solidly supported academically, and I think we're making great progress there. Those would be a couple that come to mind right away.”

YES, 12-0 WILL SUFFICE
Queries regarding comparisons to teams or individuals of the glorious past are more often than not met with disdain by members of the coaching fraternity.

That was not the case for Kelly today, asked today to compare his 2015 talent level to that of his best team to date, the national runner-up Irish of 2012.

‘Well, it's a faster team. It's a more athletic team,” he said of the new crew. “We’re deeper at virtually all positions across the board, both on the offensive line and the defensive line. Maybe we don't have singularly one superstar here or there, but the depth of the group is a whole different football team than that group.

“That was a unique group in that they knew how to win, had great leadership – look, winning teams have a special group of guys that find ways to win, and that group did.

“But this is, from an athletic standpoint, and from a physical prowess standpoint, a deeper football team.”

They’re also 0-0.

See what Notre Dame fans are saying here

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