Let's get right to business!
This afternoon the East squad came onto the field and went right into a very long special teams period. There were several Notre Dame players on the starting special teams units.
ONSIDE KICKOFF – Steve Filer, Darius Fleming, Robert Blanton
HANDS – Kyle Rudolph (He recovered every onside kick to his side)
KICKOFF RETURN – Kyle Rudolph
PUNT – Darius Fleming, Steve Filer, Kyle Rudolph
PUNT RETURN – Steve Filer, Darius Fleming
PAT/FG – Mike Golic (Snapper), John Goodman (Holder), Lane Clelland, Kyle Rudolph
PAT BLOCK – Robert Blanton
A couple of notes on special teams:
Darius Fleming flies downfield on kick off coverage. It was impressive to see a 250 pound linebacker run down field that fast.
Steve Filer had one great tackle on the sideline on punt coverage. The returner, I believe it was Posey, had broken outside and Filer hawked him and threw him out of bounds. As a coach I would have jumped on him for throwing his teammate out of bounds and then smiled as I walked away at his nastiness.
John Goodman ran two fake PAT's into the end zone. He caught the ball, got up, and was lightning fast to the end zone. He is extremely quick.
Mike Golic looked great snapping on PAT/FG and also as the backup long snapper on punts. He gets the ball back there with good zip, snaps a spiral, and was consistent.
After the special teams period the teams split into separate drills. The linemen broke off for an inside run period. The secondary players and receivers broke off for 7-on-7 drills. The quarterbacks, running backs, tight ends, and linebackers rotated between the drills. I spent most of my time watching the linemen and linebackers doing the inside run. There were some encouraging things there which I will get to in the breakdown of each Notre Dame commitment.
After the 7-on-7 and inside run periods the East went through a brief intra-squad scrimmage.
NOTRE DAME PLAYERS
JOHN GOODMAN, WR
Goodman continues to impress. This afternoon he didn't have as many balls thrown his way as he did on Tuesday. He shows great quickness and burst off the line. The more I watch him the more impressed I become. What's exciting about Goodman is how well he moves with the ball in his hands. I was able to talk to John briefly during the luncheon. He's at least three inches taller than me and I'm 6'0. He's a very skinny kid but his athletic ability is top shelf.
KYLE RUDOLPH, TE
I didn't see Rudolph have one pass thrown in his direction. What I was able to see is the LaSalle star put on a clinic on the East safeties and linebackers. There wasn't one defensive player who could cover Rudolph. He was open all day on "seam' routes and "flag" routes. It was fun to watch. You know at Notre Dame the quarterbacks are taught to look for the tight ends so Rudolph won't have this problem in college. As a blocker he continues to hold his own during the inside run periods.
LANE CLELLAND, OT
Clelland continues to have his struggles on bull rushes. But he showed good quickness today and a much better bunch. Clelland continues to look good working up to the second level and handled himself much better in the run game today. Seeing him in live periods only and not in one-on-one's left me feeling much better about Clelland. He's got a chance, with work, to be a real good player.
MIKE GOLIC, C
Golic was impressive as a long snapper. He zipped the ball back, snaps a nice spiral, and was consistent. Every snap he made was catchable. As with Clelland, Golic looked much better in live periods only. With his size and lack of strength he will always struggle in a one-on-one situation. Today during the team period Golic was able to use his technique and quickness to make some plays. He is still going to need a lot of time in the weight room and in the cafeteria, but Golic did well today.
DARIUS FLEMING , DE
I was able to see Fleming for the first time this week and he didn't disappoint. R.J. Washington is the only player on either roster who gets off the ball as fast as Fleming. The St. Rita's star was consistently blowing by the right side of the East offensive line. He also showed good strength and a solid ability to get off the block and make the tackle. He made several plays in the backfield. He shows the athletic ability and speed to play linebacker in the 3-4 and is the best end for the East squad. Fleming needs to do a better job getting his eyes up and finding the football.
SEAN CWYNER, DT
Cwyner did a much better job today being consistent with his hands. The Woodstock , IL native will never amaze you with his athletic ability. But he did impress today with his quickness off the ball, his ability to get extension on the blockers, and his ability to disengage and attack the ball carrier. He'll be even more effective on the edge as an end in the 3-4. Cwyner was even better today than he was yesterday.
BRANDON NEWMAN, DT
I was able to talk for a couple of minutes with Brandon during the luncheon. He's a nice kid but more importantly he was about an inch taller than I was which was encouraging. On the field Newman continued to impress me. Again he showed a nice burst off the ball but was even better at getting off and making plays in the backfield. On two occasions he was able to get a surge up front and force the back to adjust off his pressure.
STEVE FILER, LB
The East coaches are moving Filer all over the place. He plays Mike and Sam most of the snaps but has also been used at the Will backer position. Filer mentioned to me that he has had some difficulty adjusting to the 4-3, as his Mount Carmel team runs the 3-4, but is feeling more and more comfortable. That showed today during the inside run periods. Filer was more consistent in his reads and showed good sideline-to-sideline ability. He got sucked down on two runs and allowed the backs to get outside but corrected the mistakes as the practice continued. Filer is an impressive looking player and is definitely the biggest of the East linebackers.
ROBERT BLANTON, CB/S
Blanton was the same player today as he was yesterday. He continues to work in at safety, in the slot, and outside. He and Darius Barksdale are being asked to play all over, but Blanton is doing the most. I can't remember Blanton getting beat on one pass. He continues to break well on the ball and open and run with the receivers on deep routes. With the exception of the PAT/FG unit Blanton was involved in every special team unit.
STAR JACKSON, QB
Jackson has really impressed this week with his throwing. He has a lot of work to do but has some impressive skills to work with. His arm is solid and he has a nice release.
MARQUIESE GRAY, QB
Gray is a solid quarterback. He might throw the best deep ball of all the East quarterbacks. He's got good size and a strong arm. His mechanics are very erratic but a good quarterback coach can do a lot with him.
TERRELLE PRYOR, QB
Again, Pryor needs a ton of work as a passer but he is truly a dynamic athlete. If he gets coached up as a passer he could be a special football player. He was erratic as a passer today but made a couple throws that give you an idea of the arm strength he possesses and the potential he has. He has grown on me.
RYAN WILLIAMS, RB
Williams is so quick it's scary. He was impossible to tackle all day. He gets a bit too cute at times but he was impressive today.
LAMAAR THOMAS, RB
Thomas isn't as exciting as Williams but he isn't far behind. He had a big time catch down the middle of the field. He smoked a safety and Pryor threw him a nice ball that he caught on stride in the end zone. He is an explosive player who can play a number of positions on offense.
JONATHAN BALDWIN, WR
Baldwin continues to impress with his size/speed combination. He made a few nice grabs today but is so raw as a wide receiver. He just oozes potential.
LUCAS NIX, OL
He's getting better. He made some nice blocks today and seems to be settling into the guard position, although he was allowed to play some tackle this afternoon. When he gets going he dominates people.
PATRICK JOHNSON, CB
There was a play where John Goodman beat Johnson off the ball but before I could blink he had caught up to Goodman and was in his hip pocket. This kid is super fast! Even when he gets beat he isn't beat. He needs work with his technique but he has the best skill set of any cornerback on either roster.
MARCUS FORSTON, DT
Forston has established himself as the best defensive tackle in the Army All-American game. There isn't much else to say about him that hasn't already been said. He's the real deal.