Roster Rundown

Our new weekly feature looks at every 2012 Irish player, at present one-third of the way through August camp.

Our new weekly feature will be updated throughout 2012 camp, the regular season, and bowl season. Check back later today for potential updates following a post-practice press conference with Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly.


Current collegiate eligibility for each: Rees (2), Hendrix (3), Golson (4), Kiel (4/5)

Everett Golson: The leader in the clubhouse to start under center vs. Navy, albeit with two-thirds of August camp remaining. Barring injury, will see his first career action this fall, regardless.

Andrew Hendrix: Purportedly splits first-team reps with Golson, though that wasn't the case in a lone practice open to the media. Hendrix likely a full week of practices to earn the starting nod as thereafter, the team is expected to begin game specific preparations for Week One.

Gunner Kiel: Earned valuable camp reps in former starter Tommy Rees' stead. Shined in an open practice with tough on corner and flag routes, albeit vs. no defense. Also successful during team's 7-on-7 goal line drills.

Tommy Rees: Suspended by Kelly for the season opener. It's illogical to believe he'll start Week Two, though any prediction thereafter would be fair game. The only member of the unit with starting experience.

Running Backs

Junior Cameron Roberson's Notre Dame football career appears over. Head coach Brian Kelly noted Wednesday that Roberson will seek a medical scholarship waiver due to a March 2011 knee injury. Roberson can remain at the University on scholarship, but not as a member of the squad.

Cierre Wood: Unquestioned lead runner entering his senior season. Wood averaged 5.1 yards per carry as a freshman on 119 rushes and repeated the feat with increased carries (219 last year). His nine rushing scores in 2011 ranks tied for third at the program since Autry Denson's graduation following the '98 campaign.

Theo Riddick: Unlikely to be listed as a starter at either RB or WR, but with the exception of Wood and Tyler Eifert, Riddick will likely see more playing time than every skill position player this fall.

George Atkinson: The backfield's X-factor, Atkinson is the team's fastest player, the unit's biggest runner, and has appears to be capable as a receiver. The ability to hold onto the football will determine his playing time in 2012.

Amir Carlisle: Reportedly at about 80 percent per Kelly; Carlisle occasionally experiences inflammation after breaking his ankle in March. Still a (logical) redshirt-candidate per, though a colleague noted the USC transfer is unlikely to accept that fate. Kelly noted early in camp that Carlisle's positive attitude is that of a starter already. The USC transfer has three seasons of eligibility remaining.

Will Mahone: Promising freshman would need a run of injuries or carve out a unique niche to see scrimmage time this fall. Showed good feet in the aforementioned open practice.

Wide Receivers

Of the players listed, only Goodman, Jones, and Toma have recorded a collegiate reception.

John Goodman: Named offensive MVP of the spring, the 5th-year senior is the front-runner for the starting "W" receiver spot after serving as a backup over the last three seasons with five intermittent starting assignments.

T.J. Jones: Leading candidate to start at the "X" receiver spot for the third straight season. Jones' six career touchdown receptions ranks tied for second on the active roster behind tight end Tyler Eifert (7).

Robby Toma: Has a lock on the starting slot receiver role ("Z") but snaps will be shared at times with RB/slot Theo Riddick, and potentially freshman Davonte' Neal (below) among others.

DaVaris Daniels: The team's most athletic receiver in spring testing sessions appears to need a strong final push to wrest a starting spot from one of the veterans listed above. Daniels redshirted last fall after purportedly impressing throughout August camp and September practices.

Daniel Smith: Junior has yet to catch a pass but burned two seasons of collegiate eligibility as an occasional member of the kickoff coverage unit. Smith's 6'4" 215-pound frame would be invaluable to a smallish receiver group.

Davonte Neal: Appears to be one of the team's quickest players as a true freshman and will doubtless be used as a tunnel screen option in September. Neal's upside is great for 2012 but he's not yet locked down a role other than Toma's understudy.

Chris Brown: Speaking of athleticism…the lanky Brown showed as much moxie as raw speed in our only open practice viewing. At 6'2, 172 pounds, Brown is nowhere near ready for full-time action over 12 weeks, but the bulk of the receiving corps ranks below his apparent talent level.

Justin Ferguson: Seems a logical redshirt candidate as the Kelly regime has yet to feature more than five game day regulars, much less the desired six. Seven receivers practice with the varsity during the season, and though Ferguson has promise, he might not bring a unique quality at 18 years old as do his freshmen counterparts Brown and Neal.

Luke Massa: Tore his ACL in early April but is practicing with the squad. Massa redshirted in 2010 as a true freshman so if he can make it to the field at any point in 2012 and win a role, he won't be held back. Served as an occasional blocker on the return units last fall.

Tight Ends

The team's most impressive position in terms of talent and depth took a hit mid-week after Alex Welch injured his knee during a scrimmage.

Tyler Eifert: The nation's best tight end is the team's best offensive weapon and one of the roster's two best players. With a season comparable to his 2011 campaign, Eifert will own every meaningful receiving record at his position.

Ben Koyack: In a battle with junior Alex Welch for the No. 2 tight end role, a de facto starting spot for the 2012 offense. Koyack is viewed as potentially top tier pass-catcher but its his blocking acumen that will determine overall playing time this fall.

Troy Niklas: 6'7" 260-pound behemoth is expected to be a key factor in the team's running game this fall. Niklas converted from linebacker in the off-season but has shown impressive hands in our limited viewings.

Jake Golic: Injury to teammate Welch opens the door for Golic to win a job on the specialty units, namely as a blocker on the kick return team. Unlikely to see much scrimmage time when game's are close.

Alex Welch: Unofficially tore his ACL in Wednesday practice; Welch status will be updated later today. The junior redshirted as a true freshman in 2009 which means a lost 2012 season would still count toward his remaining three years of eligibility.

Offensive Line

Two redshirt-freshmen members of the unit are unlikely to continue their playing careers at Notre Dame.

Zack Martin: Two seasons, two Guardian of the Year awards as the team's top offensive lineman. Martin has two season of eligibility remaining and ranks as one of the offense's three best players from his left tackle position.

Chris Watt: Enters his second season as a starter and could already be the team's best run-blocker; he's doubtless its most physical. Like his senior classmate Martin, Watt has two years of eligibility remaining after a 2010 redshirt.

Braxston Cave: 5th-year senior returns after November foot surgery to start for the third consecutive season in the middle of the offensive line. A candidate for captaincy should Kelly choose beyond Eifert and linebacker Manti Te'o.

Mike Golic, Jr.: Lead candidate for the starting right guard role. The 5th-year senior started four games at center last season in Cave's stead. Will serve as the backup center again, regardless of his status at right guard.

Christian Lombard: Expected to start at right tackle after a redshirt season in 2010 and sparse playing time last fall. The junior has three seasons of eligibility remaining and was's No. 2 rated offensive tackle in the 2010 class.

Nick Martin: Redshirt-freshman is battling Golic for the starting right guard spot. Could be cross-trained at left tackle behind his brother due to the apparent loss of classmate Jordan Prestwood (below).

Conor Hanratty: LIke Nick Martin above, Hanratty was a member of the varsity during practice last fall but did not appear, thus preserving a season of eligibility. Currently slated behind Watt at left guard.

Tate Nichols: Fell behind classmate Lombard in their battle for the starting right tackle role at some point late last spring. The unit's biggest player (6'8" 320 pounds), Nichols redshirted in 2010 and sat out last year with knee (August) and shoulder (September) injuries, the latter of which required surgery.

Matt Hegarty: Third-string center behind Cave and Golic. Hegarty, a 4-star OT prospect in 2011, continues his transition to the line's pivot -- has a golden opportunity in spring 2013 to earn a starting nod with the loss of both 5th-year seniors.

Bruce Heggie: Third-string guard and emergency center, Heggie earned playing time from scrimmage last season as a redshirt-freshman vs. Air Force, a major accomplishment for a player not rated coming out of high school. Now a junior, Heggie has three seasons of eligibility remaining.

Ronnie Stanley: True freshman will likely practice with the varsity in September as the No. 2 left tackle, though a rash of injuries across the unit would have to occur for Kelly to burn the promising player's redshirt season.

Mark Harrell: True freshman is making the transition from high school tight end and tackle to collegiate center. Will not play in 2012 but then enters spring 2013 in a battle with Hegarty and Heggie at the center position.

Jordan Prestwood: Left the team according to Kelly; status pending. The redshirt-freshman left tackle committed to Notre Dame, de-committed and enrolled at Florida State in the spring of 2011, transferred to the Irish over the summer, and was withheld from action due to NCAA transfer rules last fall.

Brad Carrico: Carrico's Notre Dame playing career has ended do to a foot injury and subsequent surgery. Like Roberson, Carrico will receive a medical scholarship waiver and can remain at the University.

Look for Part II of Roster Rundown, and a review of the team's defense and special teams players, later this weekend.

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