April 11, 2013 // Notre Dame Football

A Look at Notre Dame’s ’13 Early Enrollees So Far

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Corey Robinson - Notre Dame WR

U.S. Army All-American Bowl West Team WR Corey Robinson (88) from San Antonio Christian in San Antonio, TX during a U.S. Army All-American Bowl West Team practice at Comalander Stadium in San Antonio Texas. The 2013 U.S. Army All-American Bowl will be played Saturday January 5, 2013 in the Alamodome. (Photo: John Albright / IconSMI)

Notre Dame has five early enrollees participating in spring practice this year and so far there have been positive reviews of all five.  All five, however, will likely not see the field in the fall.  Based on their progress so far though, this year’s crop of early enrollees looks like it has the possibility of being one of the best to come through Notre Dame since the University began accepting mid-year recruits in 2006.

Corey Robinson – So far both Brian Kelly and wide receivers coach Mike Denbrock have been very, very complimentary of the Texas native and son of NBA legend David Robinson.  He reported to Notre Dame raw given that he had a late start to his football career, but so far in camp he has been impressing the coaching staff with his ability to catch anything that is thrown in his general vicinity.

Given Notre Dame’s depth at wide receiver right now, it is not far fetched to think that Robinson will see the field as a freshman in 2013.  He might be raw, but he is by far the biggest wide receiver on the Notre Dame roster and is a nightmare matchup for almost any corner.  It will be interesting to watch his blocking in the run game next weekend in the Blue Gold Game since that is an area where a lot of young wide receivers struggle – even ones who have played football longer than Robinson.

James Onwaulu – Another player who has earned positive remarks from both his head coach and position coach already in camp.  Like Robinson, Onwaulu is also getting a lot fo reps this spring due to the depth and injuries at wide receiver for Notre Dame.  Onwaulu has been getting a look at the slot receiver position even though long term he is probably more of an outside receiver with his size and toughness.  Short term though, Onwaulu will most likely line up quite a bit in the slot next weekend.

At a minimum, we should see Onwaulu on special teams in the fall, but given the work he has gotten so far this spring and the depth at wide receiver it is also possible we see him on the offensive side of the ball as well.  Kelly’s remarks on Onwaulu’s chances of lining up at receiver in the fall, however, were not quite as glowing as his remarks about his chances of playing special teams.

Malik Zaire – Over the weekend Kelly praised Zaire’s mental development at the quarterback position at this point in his career.  ”From the mental end of things, he’s in the top group of guys that I’ve coached.  (He) really understand the nuances of the position.  He can understand coverages, rotations, pressures, and movement keys.  He’s really at a high level there.”  That is high praise from Kelly at this point.

Even with the high praise from Kelly, we most likely won’t see the freshman line up under center this fall.  ”We have to tighten him up.  Quicker release.  We have to work on his foot work.  Things we had to work on with Everett (Golson),” Kelly added on Saturday.  Similarly to Golson’s freshman year, a trip to the scout team is a logical destination for Zaire as he works on the physical components of his game before likely moving into the backup role next year if Andrew Hendrix does not come back for a 5th year.

Steve Elmer – Elmer has been getting work on the offensive line and has looked good in the limited practice video that is available day to day from practice.  He has also gotten strong reviews from both the coaching staff so far in camp.  Offensive line coach Harry Hiestand, however, has also stated this spring that ideally Elmer would redshirt this year given some of the losses Notre Dame has had at tackle over the last few years with injuries and transfers.

We don’t live in an ideal world though and it’s very possible that Elmer could be forced into action this fall.  It will be fun to watch him in the Blue Gold Game if nothing else.  Elmer has held his own in the practice videos we’ve seen so far, but we also haven’t seen him line up against a Stephon Tuitt in a live action situation either.

Mike Heuerman – There hasn’t been too much buzz around Heuerman to this point in spring ball which should not be too much of a surprise since he was listed at just 220 lbs on the Signing Day release from Notre Dame.  He has packed on some weight since arriving at Notre Dame in January though and he has a very bright future at Notre Dame.  In an ideal world, he Heuerman would not be pressed into action this year and given time to hit the weight room with Paul Longo.  In order for that to happen, the Irish will need to stay healthy at tight end – something that they haven’t been able to do in recent years – and see some strong development out of Ben Koyack.

 

Comments to this Article

  • Shazamrock commented on April 11th, 2013 at 8:25 am

    ND ranked 71st in the nation last year in Red Zone offense.

    A reciever like Robinson who can go up and get the ball in the Red Zone should be able to help improve those numbers.

    And the sooner, the better!

    Now if we only had a red zone power back like Oklahoma’s “Bell Dozer”!

    With all the size, speed, and talent assembled on this team, there has got to be somebody who could fill that roll.

    [Reply]

  • Toulmin H. Brown commented on April 11th, 2013 at 10:40 am

    “Malik Zaire – Over the weekend Kelly praised Zaire’s mental development at the quarterback position at this point in his career.”
    I have always ben of the Paul Bryant school in this regard. Especially today in NAA football. If you recall the Crimson Tide eliminated Colt McCoy in the 2010 BCSNC n the second series of the title match which in effect eliminated the Longhorns. My point? Bear Bryant always had two able bodied quarterbacks ready to go/perform at any point in the season. Three QB’S on occasion could be slotted into a big game. Other head coaches who practiced this strategy were Bo Schem, Charles McClendon, John Robinson, Ara Raoul Parseghian.

    [Reply]

  • Toulmin H. Brown commented on April 11th, 2013 at 10:42 am

    “Malik Zaire – Over the weekend Kelly praised Zaire’s mental development at the quarterback position at this point in his career.”
    I have always been of the Paul Bryant school in this regard. Especially today in NCAA football. If you recall the Crimson Tide eliminated Colt McCoy in the 2010 BCSNC on the second series of the title match which in effect eliminated the Longhorns. My point? Bear Bryant always had two able bodied quarterbacks ready to go/perform at any point in the season. Three QB’S on occasion could be slotted into a big game. Other head coaches who practiced this strategy were Bo Schem, Charles McClendon, John Robinson, Ara Raoul Parseghian.

    [Reply]

    Ron Burgundy replied on April 13th, 2013 at 8:03 am

    There were no scholarship limits back then so it’s a little easier to have a bunch of studs sitting around.

    [Reply]

  • Karmel commented on April 11th, 2013 at 2:09 pm

    While he does look pretty in the few clips seen.

    The statement: Corey Robinson (6-4 197) is by far the biggest WR on the roster? How is he by far bigger than Daniel Smith (6-4 217)? Strikes me as a bit hyperbolic.

    [Reply]

  • duranko commented on April 11th, 2013 at 2:29 pm

    well, some folks think that Robinson is closer to 6’5″ than 6’4″ and that
    Smith may be struggling to hit 6’4″. Robinson was listed at 6’5″ in Kelly’s signing day press conference.

    While it is a different measure, Denbrock has said that Robinson has the
    biggest “catch radius” now on the team.

    One other factor. Most probably, Smith is done growing whil Robinson
    may not be. Remember his dad is famous for a late growth spurt.

    [Reply]

    Karmel replied on April 14th, 2013 at 5:52 pm

    Totally get potential. Smith looks all of 6-4 to me. But those are my eyes. I will say Robinson’s frame does look like it WILL get bigger and he’s definitely got some long arms. If he got another growth spurt look out. Guess I’m just getting at the “way bigger” comment when Smith is “officially” listed bigger. Thats all..

    [Reply]

    tommy mc donnel replied on April 21st, 2013 at 10:45 pm

    his father grew alot in college

    [Reply]

  • ARMAC commented on April 11th, 2013 at 2:45 pm

    Corey Robinson’s potential is so high that it would be a shame to burn his redshirt. But like Chris Brown last year, he may have the skill set to crack open a game or even win it. And as Frank notes, he is a matchup nightmare.

    Based on glimpses from spring practice, Onwualu looks ready for major playing time. He is the one out of five who will definitely not redshirt, and will probably play a substantial role.

    [Reply]

  • JDriveSthND commented on April 12th, 2013 at 2:38 pm

    While I agree with you on Heuerman, Zaire and Elmer, who play at position groups that are reasonably well stocked and have established depth, I disagree when it comes to the wide receivers. At least one of the WR will play this fall. Kelly has shown he has no issue playing true freshmen at WR. Last year he played Brown, Ferguson and Neal, in spite of the fact that depth was relatively good.

    In 2013, Goodman and Toma are gone. And now Ferguson and Neal are gone. That’s 4 wide receivers gone, and the latter 2 were expected to see significant minutes this fall. After the top 3 returning WR – Jones, Daniels and Brown – there is almost no depth. Journeyman Daniel Smith is the most immediate beneficiary of Neal and Ferguson’s defections. Prosise is the next largest beneficiary as he is expected to play a significant role in spite of the fact he only switched positions from Safety this spring. However, after that we’re already into true freshmen. Onwualu is physically ready to play at this level according to Kelly. Based on that alone when combined with the scanty depth I am confident Onwualu will play.

    Robinson’s height and athletic ability make him a red zone threat that may be too tempting to keep off the field with the loss of Eifert. I realize Niklas is another big, athletic target, but he is not the receiver Eifert was and I don’t think the staff wants or expects him to be. To replace that big receiving target that Floyd was in 2011 and prior and Eifert was in 2012, they will probably play Robinson in 2013, if they think he’s put on enough good weight to take the pounding he’ll get as a D-I WR.

    [Reply]

  • woody o hardy commented on April 12th, 2013 at 11:17 pm

    I think Prosise will surprise us all. Hope he seizes this opportunity!

    Woody

    PS Would love to see Niklas have a “gronko” year…he went to my HS!

    [Reply]

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