The Irish players were wearing helmets, shells and shorts. The fifth day of practice is the first one the NCAA allows teams to workout in full pads. Tomorrow's practice is open to the media for the duration, so we'll get to see the whole thing.
Irish Eyes had a few staff members at practice. This is what they saw.
Without a doubt, the most exciting moment while we were there came right before we got kicked out.
Corwin Brown was taking the DBs through angle tackling drills that weren't 100%, but he said "Let me hear it."
For whatever reason, Brown said, "I got something extra for anybody that hits Sergio (Brown)." Brown said "I mean Fredo. I might put RJ on you."
When it was Sergio's turn up, him and Ray Herring went real hard and both landed on the ground, but Sergio obviously believed he got the best as he popped right up and was yelling. Raeshon McNeil stood up for Sergio, saying "You better get somebody bigger."
It was Professor Appreciaton Day and the bleachers inside the practice fields were full.
Chris Zorich was at practice and as he was greeting the players, he started talking with a gentleman who he must have known from his day with the Bears because the guy had a Bears polo shirt on and when Weis came over he asked "What is this a Bears reunion?"
Later, Zorich came up to me and made a joke about me taking notes during practice, "He leaned a certain way and then he went left," he mocked.
As the offense and defense came together for stretching David Grimes and David Bruton made a point to shake hands, while all four tailbacks Robert Hughes, James Aldridge, Armando Allen and Jonas Gray jump over to the defensive side to talk some smack together.
Tight ends coach Bernie Paramalee did not have his signature sombrero on today, but he did go through a quick bag drill before the team split into groups, "Still got it."
The defense split up and went through a pursuit drill in their Nickel package. The first squad included Lambert, David Bruton, Kyle McCarthy, McNeil and Brown with Brian Smith, Maurice Crum and Kerry Neal at linebackers. This group had to go back once because of something McNeil did.
The DBacks split into their backpedal drills.
Corwin: "You're guessing Sergio." "Stay down RJ, don't open up when you turn." "Kyle (McCarthy) might have the best feet out here." "Danny (McCarthy) can catch we know that."
Lambert fell once, which drew: "Keep your feet. DBacks cannot afford to fall. How many times can DBacks fall?" To which the entire secondary replied "Never."
After Leonard Gordon made a catch Brown joked, "Nice catch stonehands."
I was watching the D-line today to get an idea of what's going there. Once again, I was running a camera, so hard to focus on things.
The D-line basically did the "quick feet" drill today in their individual drill. The D-line would move their feet quickly in a running motion and turn either side when Oliver motioned. Once they did this they were to perform an up/down and then sprint 10 feet. A couple of guys weren't allowed to do the up/downs, which were Ian Williams and Emeka Nwankwo. Neither player looked injured in the slightest, however.
I was quite impressed with the size and quickness of Darius Fleming, who was working out with the D-line today. He seemed as quick and to have a bigger frame than Kerry Neal. He really reminds me of Morrice Richardson's frame. I can see Fleming carrying 255 easily next season. He's not very tall, but he's kind of got a thick base while still being skinny. He also works very hard and runs full speed.
I watched Paddy Mullen a bit. He's certainly 300, he struggled a bit getting up out of his up/down, but most big guys do. He's definitely got some size. Not sure how many minutes he can give this fall. Have to wait and see if he's in good enough condition to contribute, but his lower body is thick, and he looks much stronger.
Ian Williams seems to move very well. I was worried his injury this spring might be a problem this fall, but he seems to be moving well. He's running full speed. Looks to be in great shape.
Kapron Lewis-Moore continues to impress with both is size, and his work ethic. He really pushes hard during the individual drills I've seen. He might not play this year, but he's got the body and right work ethic to push for some time next season.
Like Mullen, Hafis and Newman struggled a bit getting up quickly from their up/downs, but showed some quick feet during the drill.
Jappy has always been on his players, but he's ramped it up another notch so far this fall.
I walked over to the DBs to watch them a bit, but the rest of the guys will probably report on that.
Duval Kamara is still sporting #60 with him, indicating that he has not yet reached his goal of 219 pounds.
When the offensive and the defensive units broke to stretch, I noticed that there is some friendly trash talking between both units to rile each other up.
Bernie Parmalee and Corwin Brown both stopped over to have a word with Raeshon McNeil.
Weis stopped by to share a laugh with Armando Allen. Weis also stopped by Robby Parris, who lines up to stretch next to Jimmy Clausen and Evan Sharpley and has been giving them a hard time for the past two days. It looks like Weis got in some shots too.
Gary Gray heard something and chimed in from across the field to get some laughter out of the players.
Powlus and Ianello were going over their notes and sheets prior to the position drills.
Clausen and Golden Tate were really busting Kamara's chops during stretching. First they got on him about his weight. Later, since it was Professor's Appreciation Day, they seemed to have seen one of Duval's professors that may have gotten him in some hot water, so they were ragging him about that.
There was a lot of joking during the stretching period.
I watched the QB's and the WR's go to their drills.
"Move, Grimes. Run, run, run, run. Explode all the way through," Ianello said.
"Lock that ball up, Clausen." he barked.
He wanted to see his players explode after stepping over the bags. "When we set our last foot on the ground, accelerate all the way through."
"That ball is hanging out there, Floyd."
Deion Walker seemed to have gotten lazy on the bags and was hoping over them. Ianello noticed and called him out on it.
After the bag drills, the QB's and WR's huddled up and shouted, "Playmakers on 3 . . . 1, 2, 3 Playmakers."
Deion Walker looks smooth and fluid around the cones, but needs to add some weight to his frame.
The WR's didn't let very many balls hit the ground early on in the drill.
"I just need you to catch it first. Then explode and accelerate through, 11" Ianello said to Richard Jackson.
Tate made a nice catch on a ball thrown behind him. "Nice catch, Golden," Ianello said. But once he saw that Tate didn't finish the drill with a sprint, he called him back. "Hey, 23. You made a nice catch. So what? After that you just coasted the way through. Go back and do it again."
"Deion, that ball was out there. Lock it up."
It's clear that Grimes has worked hard in the off-season, because he looks determined and in the best shape I've seen him.
Maybe the WR with the quickest feet was John Goodman. He is a little thicker than I expected, but he still needs some weight.
"I'm running faster than you, Deion," Ianello said to Walker getting him to run faster.
Right as we were about to leave, Mike Floyd dropped two straight passes. What encouraged me the most was how his teammates immediately picked him up. Nearly all of the WR's were offering encouragement. "Come on, Mike. You've got this," I heard one of them say.
As the team was stretching, head coach Charlie Weis made the rounds through the defense, stopping and talking with most of the guys. He then did the same with the offense.
Weis walked away from Robby Parris and George West saying, "I'm going to hold you to that," he laughed. I think they were talking about something regarding the weight room.
Brian Polian stopped and talked with punter Eric Maust, saying "I really need you tuned in and focused."
As the players broke into individual drills, I walked by the offensive linemen doing bag drills that work on agility. I noticed Matt Romine. He looks to be about the same size in the arms as Bemenderfer, so I don't think his lifting has been limited. Perhaps he'll be strong to earn some reps at tackle this fall. He looked smooth during drills.
Scouts from the Jacksonville Jaguars and Chicago Bears were at practice.
The linebackers were doing a drill where they seek out a ball carrier and run to the football. The first group was Harrison Smith, Brian Smith and Maurice Crum. The second group was Scott Smith, Toryan Smith and Steve Quinn. Everything ND has been doing, has been with four d-linemen and three LBs, so I'm expecting to see a lot of 4-3 this fall.
"Quick feet, not slow feet," Jappy Oliver yelled at his defensive linemen, as they were running in place, dropping to the ground and running forward. Ian Williams and Emeka Nwankwo never dropped to the ground. They jumped in the air.
One thing I've really noticed, is that this football team looks like it has men on it. Last season, there weren't too many men walking around the practice field. The freshmen look to be in great physical shape on up to the upperclassmen. The team has really developed this off-season. How that translates to the field, we'll see.
Lane Clelland has gotten a lot bigger than when I last saw him in January at the Army All-American game. He and Mike Golic Jr. both hit the weight room hard.
"On one, nice and fast," John Latina shouted as his offensive linemen worked on a drill that made them stay low off the snap.