Notre Dame is half way through spring practice already with another workout coming Thursday and the 4th open practice arriving this Saturday over the past 9 days. It’s this odd feeling of…too many practice reports? It’s a weird thing to say but the amount of access so far this spring has been quite different.
Normally, we’re used to 2 or 3 in-depth practice reports when it’s easier to make declarative statements such as, “This player had a good spring and this player had a bad spring.” With so much content this year there have been a lot more ups and downs for everyone. Like football in real life during the season!
I’ve taken our ‘live’ depth chart and updated it for the first half of spring practice with the non-enrolled freshmen removed for clarity’s sake:
Stock Up: Jarrett Patterson
Let’s start up front on offense where it is believed the starting lineup for the linemen is pretty much set. It was a bit of a surprise to see Jarrett Patterson moved to center to begin spring although all indications are he’s doing well enough and is going to remain entrenched as the starter. The depth at tackle takes a bit of a hit as he’s moved away from that position but having a starting center is far more important.
Stock Down: Trevor Ruhland
I’ve moved the injured Trevor Ruhland down to the bottom of the depth chart if only to show there are as many as 4 centers on the team right now and I don’t know where Ruhland slots in when he returns from said injury. If he moves into second-team right guard which seems most likely I don’t know who would drop down to third-team right tackle although admittedly not too many people care about these things.
That said, you can see how Ruhland may be thinking about a final year elsewhere although all indications are he’s a great teammate all the same.
Stock Even: Zeke Correll
The vibe I’ve picked up is that Correll is neck-and-neck and/or has slightly passed Luke Jones as the backup center which seems to have been helped by the latter being banged up recently. It’s been a fun month and a half going from debating whether Correll could potentially be the top center to now–with Patterson assuming the starting role–wondering where the true freshman fits in long term.
There’s still plenty to like about Correll’s future and maybe he will be a guard down the line after taking what is likely to be a redshirt now.
Stock Up: Tommy Tremble
I’ll continue to stump for Tremble who seems to have done well enough this spring to pass his classmate Takacs in the pecking order. Although, with the emerging options at receiver I don’t know why a third tight end would play all that much this fall anyway.
Stock Up: Lawrence Keys
In a spring of receivers developing quickly no one among the younger crew has impressed as much as Keys. He’s starting to come into his own as a Chris Finke-type of menace in the short to medium passing game, and possibly with greater speed down field. If it weren’t for his size I would pick him as a lock to be a breakout player on offense.
Stock Even: Kevin Austin
Ideally, Austin would be working with the starters this spring. However, he’s having about as good of a spring as you could without unseating the older Michael Young. With the way his 2018 season ended you’d imagine it might take more than a good spring to become a starter for Austin and this is going to be a project lasting far into fall camp.
For the Wrath of Traits cannot be overcome in such a short amount of time.
Stock Down: Micah Jones
He’s probably the least talked about receiver which isn’t great.
Stock Up: Tony Jones, Jr.
This isn’t the first time Jones has impressed in practice. So, in a way this could be a stock remaining even. Nevertheless, credit where credit is due for Jones competing with Jafar Armstrong and seemingly keeping quite a distance from the younger running backs below him.
Stock Even: Jonathan Doerer
True, there has been precious little kicking so far in the media availability portions of practice. And we must admit the current iteration of Doerer is colored by his struggles on kickoffs and missing 1 of his 6 extra point attempts last year. He’s going to be someone to watch very closely as we move closer to the end of spring–Justin Yoon may be the biggest loss from the 2018 team.
Stock Down: Derrik Allen
For many players it’s the mental side of the game that doesn’t come as fast once they reach college. That seems to be the case for Allen who was buried at safety last year and is drinking from a fire hose this spring. Notre Dame fans tend to be on the patient side but while Allen is learning let’s hope he can flash some ability before summer arrives because Irish fans are less patient with blue-chip recruits.
Allen is also a really large safety (6’2″ 220 pounds) much larger than Paul Moala who the staff apparently didn’t like enough in space and moved to Rover. Silver lining is apparently the coaches still think Allen has a bright future at safety?
Stock Up: D.J. Brown
Unlike Allen, the converted corner D.J. Brown isn’t big at all (192 pounds!) but has made the transition to safety quite nicely. With Gilman still resting his injury, it’s allowed Brown to get a ton of reps which can be absolutely crucial at a new position. Prior to spring we thought Brown could play a big role in adding depth to corner and now he’s doing it at safety. We will take it.
Stock Up: Houston Griffith
We had plenty of questions for Griffith after his freshman season. Could he continue to survive as a nickel? Would he move back to safety? What were his chances of moving to outside corner? Turns out, the move outside to corner was made swiftly and has been paying off so far. This is potentially massive news for Clark Lea’s defense for 2019 to have a talented “new” starting-level corner available to match with Troy Pride. Although, it’s also fair to say we’ll need to see more from Griffith to really begin gaining confidence that he’s corner No. 2 on the team.
Stock Up: Jack Lamb
If you only went off the last 2 practices the case could be made Lamb has surged into the starting position at Buck linebacker. Even if he hasn’t quite surged to that level yet it’s a really good sign to see Lamb coming back strong from his freshman injury and showing he might hit his potential a lot earlier in his career than some thought 6 months ago.
Since Lamb was ruled out so early last year he’s flown a bit under the radar coming into the spring. By most accounts he had quite a bit of strength to re-gain and then build up to get anywhere near the level of a starting linebacker for the Irish. That he’s apparently improved in those areas enough to be in the mix this spring is great news.
Stock Down: Shayne Simon
Perhaps the strangest storyline of spring is Shayne Simon. He played in a handful of games last season in which he saw the field at Rover but it was limited to merely 17 snaps. Despite that, he was a Top 100 recruit and second-highest defender from the freshmen class who seemed like a lock to start at Rover with the move of Asmar Bilal inside.
Half-way through spring Simon has moved inside as well which isn’t weird on the surface as he’s big enough to make that transition. However, it is a bit of a head scratcher if he’s behind as many as 4 other linebackers at both Buck and Mike. This seems like a low point in his young career but I think he can bounce back and fight for meaningful playing time in 2019.