Notre Dame enters Spring Practice amongst the madness of the NCAA Tournament. Therefore, many of the headlines that would have been directed towards them will be cast upon the Cinderella of Tournament.
Brian Kelly, Diaco, the rest of the Irish staff and the team need Spring Practice to start. Since January 7th, the team has only taken hits on the field and at the scouting combine. Notre Dame has been shown that they cannot play with the best and neither can their former leader Manti Te’o.
Now, it is Notre Dame’s turn to take to the practice fields to prove all of the detractors wrong. This is something the Irish did well last year when they were told that they were irrelevant.
Practices, Spring Game & Press Conferences
According to 247Sports.com, Notre Dame will begin Spring Practice tomorrow with a press conference at 12 p.m. The Irish will practice every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday (except on Easter weekend). The Spring Game is schedule for April 21, 2013 at 1 p.m.
Even though Notre Dame returns several players from the 2012 team, they will be looking for replacements at a few key positions. These positions include Running Back, Tight End, Linebacker and Safety. There will also be some shake up along the Offensive and Defensive Lines.
The Running Back competition is limited to the players that are on campus currently but will no doubt include Greg Bryant and Tarean Folston. George Atkinson is the front runner to win the spot. However, Amir Carlisle, Cam McDaniel and Will Mahone are looking to jump into the mix. Atkinson and McDaniel have the most experience and will probably look crisper earlier on. Mahone has yet to see the field in a college football game. Carlisle is an intriguing prospect. He transferred from USC. After sitting out last year due to injury, he looks to be an explosive Running Back for the Irish.
The Tight End position only has a few bodies to choose from currently. Troy Niklas is by far the best all around player that Notre Dame has but he only has one year under his belt at the position. Veterans Alex Welch and Ben Koyack will also try to work into the mix. Both players have failed to show a lot in their first few years at Notre Dame. Anything that Freshman Mike Heuerman can give the Irish will be a bonus. He could be utilized in the passing game initially.
The Linebacker spots appeared to be nailed down but competition could ensue. Danny Spond and Prince Shembo will again man the edges for Notre Dame. Ben Councell and Ishaq Williams could push for time at those spots. On the inside, Carlo Calabrese and Dan Fox appear to be the projected starters but Jarrett Grace is a name to look out for.
The Safety position is wide open. Matthias Farley will look to reclaim his spot that he held down last year. Austin Collinsworth could play beside him but he may still be hampered by injury. This could open the spot up for Nicky Baratti, who played sparingly last year.
The transfer of Gunner Kiel raised a few questions about Notre Dame’s current depth at Quarterback. Was Kiel destined not to climb the depth chart this year? That is the only situation that makes since for transfer. It could suggest that Malik Zaire is as good or better than advertised. Is Tommy Rees that enriched as the starter? All of those questions should be answered this spring.