Competition=Depth

Wide receivers coach Rob Ianello was not ready yet to say that the Fighting Irish have very good depth at receiver, but he did say that there is a bunch of competition and that he hopes that can lead to depth. Notre Dame brought in three freshmen wide receivers to supplement last year's group that returns five guys who made differing levels of impact in 2007.

"I think there is a big difference between competition and depth. You're hoping that competition will give you depth as you go through it. I've always said here that you build your depth from the bottom up, that's where you build your depth," Ianello said. "You can have one exceptional player, but not as many complementary players around him, to help him. Through the competition, you hope to create very good depth, so there's not drop off from everyone to another."

Notre Dame brings back senior David Grimes, juniors George West and Robby Parris and sophomore Duval Kamara, who all had at least 20 receptions last year, along with sophomore Golden Tate, who led the team with a 21.8 average per catch.

The Irish add highly-touted freshmen Michael Floyd, John Goodman and Deion Walker to that bunch for 2008.

Ianello believes that, just like at other positions, the competition will make the players better and bring them closer.

"You hope it creates a competitive competition. It's been, I think, very conducive to keeping the group together and having everybody A, on the same page but B, working together and enjoying what they're doing," he said. "I think that competition will eventually allow, for lack of a better term, the cream to come to the top. But after three days, it's very early in training camp to decide anything. When we put full pads on and start being able to get tackled and do things like that than you really start to see what can develop."

The receivers coach did say that with the addition of the freshmen, the group has become closer in terms of talent from the first guy through the eighth or ninth.

"We certainly, I think, have the most competition right now going on. From one through everybody, OK, top to bottom. I think that's allowed guys to really to step it up," he said. "They have a chance on a daily basis now to make an impression and to improve."

Ianello has tried to get the group to buy into a singular thinking of trying to get better.

"In our room we're sticking to theme of trying to improve," he said. "This rep that you're running today in practice, is that a gameday rep? Is that a rep that you want to put on the field when we play San Diego St.? That's the mindset we're trying to approach. No matter what drill we're in, if we can just get that mindset so we can put 75 consecutive really good gameday reps together, that's what we're trying to do."

Parris says that taking that approach is the best way to compete.

"Every play is being evaluated in camp, so you can't really take any plays off," Parris said. "If the ball is not all of the way on the other side, you've got to try to get to the ball as fast as you can because you never know what's going to happen. That's what they're going to look at, so when you're on the field, you've got to make the best of it no matter what the situation is."

The wideouts coach did not want to single out Floyd from his classmates, but did state that Floyd would benefit from his previous coaching.

"Michael like all of our freshmen receivers has improved in the three days of practice we've had. It's a lot of information," he said. "The advantage that Michael might have over some freshmen that have come in here in the past years is that his high school offense had a lot to it. That I think has helped. You know the words and the nomenclature is different, there was a lot to his offense, for a high school offense. So in that way, he has a more varied background in doing some things. They threw it around quite a bit, so that has helped him."

But according to Ianello, each of the newcomers is going through the process.

"Each one of them has had some moments of adjustment here, all three of them," he said. "One guy might grab this part of it, another guy might grab this part of it and another guy might grab this part of it. Just like all of the freshmen that come in the door. Just like Duval a year ago (or) Golden.

"All of our freshmen have started at ground zero. Everyday you think you've got something licked and the next day, you walk in the room and we're putting in more things. That can sometimes tend to lead to information overload, I haven't seen a lot of that at this time yet, but we're hoping we can just continue to get better the first few days. The main part of any player being able to play fast is knowing what to do. So all three of them are just working hard trying to know what to do so they can play fast."

Kamara has shown that the ability to handle that process heading into his sophomore season.

"I think as a freshman, a lot of times, you're just trying to know what to do. As a sophomore, now it's time to figure out how to do it. I would like to see him evolve to know how to do it," Ianello said. "‘I know have an in route here, but why do I have to run it this way?' Well, because the coverage dictates you have to run it this way, things of that nature. ‘I know I have to convert this route, but now how do I convert it to get back on top of the DB so I can score a touchdown?' Those types of things are the next steps for guys as they learn what to do, now they've got to learn what to do it with."

And Kamara had further to go than a guy like Floyd.

"Duval played in a Wing-T offense at a very good program for Coach Taglieri, coaching in Hoboken, New Jersey. But mentally, Duval picked things up better than you would think someone would have that just played in a Wing-T offense. A year ago, we were pleased with Duval's mental progress as we came in," said Ianello.

Ianello said that it's important for him as a coach to make sure the guys learn and still has interesting to keep their attention even after leaving some of them at the University of Arizona.

"In our room it doesn't matter how much I know, it matters how much they know. So I'm constantly looking for feedback, I'm constantly asking questions," he said. "I have a gameshow buzzer if you get it wrong; ching, ching, ching if you get it right. I'm trying to keep everybody's attention. I used to have the little Nerf gun where I used shoot things at guys' heads, but I didn't think I would do that here."

Tate believes that the receiver group is diverse in the way that it can attack.

"I think it's great that we have a variety of receivers. We've got all kinds of different threats," Tate said. "We're still trying to figure it out, but Floyd has long legs so he can sneak up on a cornerback real quick. Deion and Goodman are real quick and have real good feet. Grimes is just quick and fast, all-around player. Duval, he's a big, strong guy so he can push off of you and throw you around. Robby's a little finesse guy. I'm fast. I guess that's what they told me in the past. I just try to sneak up on the DB and either run past him or break it off."


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