The Irish players were not in pads today.
Irish Eyes had several staff members at practice. Here is what they saw.
Was kind of in a boat without an oar. With the new practice fields, we didn't know where anyone was going to line up. I took the linebackers and the D-line today, but unfortunately, they were all the way on the other side of where I was standing. (story of my life). Took me about 5 of the 10 minutes we get to actually see drills to walk over there.
Anyway, I did get these observations:
First, the new practice fields are very nice. Two turf fields and one grass. Very sharp. Very well maintained.
As the team broke the huddle, David Bruton was the first in line on the defense--fitting as he's probably the fastest. Man, is he cut up. Last year he was tall, lanky, skinny, now he has some solid girth and definition in his physique.
Checked out Emeka Nwankwo. He looks to be in much better shape than the spring. Definitely added some thickness to his lower body. Also lost some girth around the middle. Thick kid right now. Not sure he's 295, but he looks darn close if he's not.
Also, Ethan Johnson looked pretty agile running through the bags drill. They list him at 275, and I'd say that's about right. Thought he'd be taller, but he looks at least 6-3 though.
Kapron Lewis-Moore is a lot thicker than I thought he'd be. Moves real well, too. He looks destined to DE. He looks like he'll grow even more. I was impressed in his quickness, but that's about all we got to see of anyone is how well they move.
Robert Blanton looks very quick for his size. Very quick feet. Kind of skinny, but all freshmen corners are. He had a stumble in the back pedal drills, but he's a freshman. Definitely had as quick of feet as anyone else out there.
I was surprised how much bigger Gary Gray looks. He's definitely 5-11, and he looks to have added some good weight. Much thicker lower body. Also, looks like he's ready to play.
Raeshon McNeil also is very smooth. He was running drills with the ones. It was Raeshon, Kyle McCarthy, Bruton and Terrail Lambert with the 1s. It was Gray, Ray Herring, Sergio Brown and Leonard Gordon at the 2s.
The linebackers were mainly running their pursuit drills through the bags.
Brian Smith just looks like a senior already. Very thick. Very smooth athlete. Definitely going to be a stud.
Harrison Smith also looks like a linebacker now. Not as thick as the others, but looks quite a bit bigger than the DBs. He was running with the OLB today at practice.
Jamoris Slaughter looks like a very fluid athlete as well. He was bigger than I expected, but also seems to turn well side to side in the backpedal drills. I can see why ND thinks he can play corner. He moves like a corner. Didn't show any problems at all with his knee.
Man, Steve Filer is a big boy. He also looks like an upperclassman. They list him at 236 and he looks every pound and then some. Also, skinny. I can see him weighing 250 by next season easy. Also moves very well for his size.
I was also surprised by David Posluszny. He's pretty thick and taller than I thought. He looks taller than 6-foot. He was standing next to Filer and he didn't look that much smaller. He does look 220 for certain.
Pat Kuntz is in excellent shape and has that senior girth. He should be a force this year. Not saying he'll be Trevor Laws, but I bet he does pretty well if they leave him at DE. I didn't get a chance to really focus on too many others. I will tomorrow now that I know which side they're on.
The team was chatty at the start and seemed to have a lot of energy during stretching.
Dayne Crist is clearly the biggest of the quarterbacks. As the QBs stretched, Clausen and Sharpley were together with Crist stretching with Nate Montana.
As they stretched, Ron Powlus was going over the cadence with Crist, telling him "We're not always trying to draw them offsides."
Clausen asked receivers coach Rob Ianello if he was ready and the two went back and forth before Ianello said "Throw it to me, I'll be open." Jimmy responded "I don't know about that."
Clausen led the quarterbacks and receivers through ball security bag drills. Ianello was constantly on the players "Move, move, move" "Lock that ball up Deion".
Grimes and Kamara led the receivers although Duval was wearing #60 for some reason.
As the teams moved together for a quick team session, Mike Haywood was yelling at everyone to move at a faster pace.
As the DBs went through backpedal drills, the first group was Lambert, Bruton, K. McCarthy, and McNeil. The second group was Gray, Herring, S. Brown, and L. Gordon. The third group was Mike Anello, Chris Bathon, Jashaad Gaines and R.J. Blanton.
One time Sergio Brown broke the wrong way and coach Brown made the whole group go again.
Deion Walker switched his jersey number to #1.
Irish great Chris Zorich was in attendance, as was long-time ND fan Keith Penrod.
Dayne Crist looks pretty big for a freshman QB, and was running with the third team.
You can also notice Kyle Rudolph's efforts in terms of his physique, as he has definitely gotten bigger since I last saw him.
The mood was pretty loose, but the players seemed excited to be starting practice again. Sergio Brown was singing during the entire stretching portion.
Some of the players were giving TE coach Bernie Parmalee some flack because of his choice in fashion. He was wearing a floppy bucket hat, to which he responded, "I make it rain."
Defensive coordinator Corwin Brown stopped by to chat with sophomore cornerback Gary Gray, who also looks as though he bulked up in the off-season.
Quarterbacks coach Ron Powlus made his usual stops to the QB's, talking with all three of them, Jimmy Clausen, Evan Sharpley and Crist.
You can definitely notice Jimmy's added bulk. He doesn't look like a freshman anymore with that weight. He said during the interviews that he's at 217, and looks it.
Clausen asked receivers coach Rob Ianello, "Coach I, are you ready to go or what?" Ianello responded, "Oh, I'm fired up."
The players went to the bag drills, running through them. Ianello was very vocal with the group motivating them. He was by far the most vocal of the coaches, barking out instructions. "Accelerate through, all the way through. Keep the ball high and tight, high and tight. Move it 60," he yelled at receiver Duval Kamara who seems to have changed his number to 60. "Lock, up that ball Deion," he said to Walker. "Keep the nose of the ball up."
What impressed me about Michael Floyd is how agile he is for his size. He moves his feet quick and glides through the bags. He's also pretty thick for his age too.
The players then broke out of the formations. Clausen was leading the first team, with Asaph Schwapp and Robert Hughes in the backfield. Kamara and David Grimes were wide, and the OL from left to right was Paul Duncan, Olsen, Dan Wenger, Chris Stewart, and Sam Young. Ragone was the tight end.
Sharpley, Aldridge and Yeatman were all on the second team.