First Depth Chart Released

The first depth chart of the season was released by Notre Dame Monday and there are a few surprises in the two deep heading into this weekend’s season opener versus Purdue.

Braxston Cave - Notre Dame Starting OC
Braxston Cave (#52) is listed as the starting center for the Irish heading into the 2010 after battling it out with Dan Wenger for the position throughout spring and fall camps. (Photo - Icon SMI)

Here are a few thoughts on the first two deep of the season.


  • Tommy Rees won the backup quarterback spot over Nate Montana.  This shouldn’t be too much of a surprise.  It just makes sense to have Rees as the backup if he is capable since he has more upside than Montana and has more of a chance of starting down the road.
  • Braxston Cave won the starting center position over 5th year senior Dan Wenger.  Cave has become a bit of a fan favorite ever since he was recruited and held his own against Omar Hunter in the Under Armour Game.  I said last week that if Cave is named the starter it backs up my notion that Notre Dame will run the ball more this year than Kelly typically does.  We’ll see if I’m right in a few days.
  • Taylor Dever beat out Andrew Nuss at right tackle.  Nuss had spent a lot of time running with the 1’s in camp, but Dever was listed as the starter.
  • Chris Stewart held off Chris Watt at left guard.  Kelly had said that Watt was pushing Stewart for the starting role, but the 5th year senior held on to his spot.  This shouldn’t be a surprise either.  Stewart is the leader of the offensive line.
  • TJ Jones is the only freshman listed as a starter after beating out Duval Kamara for the third receiver spot.  I still think we’ll see plenty of Kamara – especially in the red zone, but after the Blue Gold game performance by Jones this shouldn’t surprise anyone either.
  • Robby Toma will back up Theo Riddick in the slot with John Goodman backing up Michael Floyd.  Neither Shaquelle Evans or Deion Walker is in the twp deep at wide receiver at this point and rumors are Evans is considering a transfer.
  • Cierre Wood held on to the backup running back spot with Jonas Gray and Robert Hughes both outside the two deep to start the season.


  • Carlo Calabrese is listed as the starting ILB opposite Manti Te’o.  Anthony McDonald has been banged up throughout camp and is listed as the backup to Calabrese.  In more of a surprise move, freshman Danny Spond is listed as the backup behind Te’o at the other ILB spot.
  • At OLB, the biggest surprise is the omission of Steve Filer in the 2-deep.  Freshman Prince Shembo is listed as the backup to Darius Fleming to start the season.  This is a bit curious since Filer was seen running with the first team as recently as a few weeks ago.
  • Also at OLB, Kerry Neal held off Brian Smith for the other starting OLB spot.
  • Gary Gray and Darrin Walls held on to the starting corner spots with Robert Blanton listed as Gray’s backup.
  • Not surprisingly, Jamoris Slaughter and Harrison Smith held on to the starting spots with McCarthy backing up Smith and Zeke Motta backing up Slaughter.

Special Teams

  • Cierre Wood and Theo Riddick are listed as the top kick returners with Wood listed as the top return man.  Armando Allen is also listed as the 3rd returner – the only position on the depth chart with three players listed.
  • Armando Allen is the top returner with John Goodman listed as his backup.
  • David Ruffer is listed as the kickoff man while Nick Tausch is listed as the place kicker.

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  1. BK has a tough job at ND. Lots of talent but no chemistry or cohesiveness.In my opinion this is status quo since Holtz left.

  2. WTF! Why isnt Steve Filer on this 2 deep. He’s a freakish athelete that would reek havoc for other schools. Imagine him at Mich, Ohio St, Neb etc… Why cant BK develop this guy into a starter. This reminds me of Carlos Pierre Antoine. It’s BK system, He and his coaches should take full responsibility in making sure this guy learns this system and get him in there. I wouldnt be surprised if he’s next to transfer nor would I blame him. They put a freshman in there unbelievable. I like and trust BK but this smells like s–t.

  3. Anybody hear or know anything about some secrete offensive weapon Named Bennett Jackson? He’s a freshmen from Jersey that is said to be “Rocket Ishmal” fast, or even faster. They say that when he runs full speed his legs are a whrilling blur like you see in those roadrunner cartoons, and he leaves a trail of scorched earth in his wake.
    I was wondering if he was going to redshirt or if we might actually catch a glimps of the “Jet”?

  4. hey let shaq go to usc,they need him more than we do,,wow so glad we are not on PRObation like the trojans,,lane kiffen is taking anybody now,ive heard players are transferring right and left,let the mighty trojans lose and watch drop off like fleas,,goooooo irish whoop purdue,,,,

  5. I expect a stout run defense and pass rush but questionable secondary….they need to kick it up a notch! C-Dog – Reggie Ho, God rest his soul. He was a good man!

    Also – bank it – a win on the road, first road game at night at MSU – the first monkey to come off the back of the program. MSU is stout this year and the Irish are gonna be spoilers and will likely be underdogs on the spread. Love to see 5-0 vs Pitt. BK knows Pitts tendencies and knows how to bottle up the run game – Irish must stay at home and stuff the run game. Strap in boys – its gonna be a hell of a ride this year! GO IRISH!!

  6. We all hoped and dreamed that Shaq Evans was going to be a monster player for ND. It is awful that his career in South Bend come to a close so quickly. All we can do is speculate about why Evans left. It seems like most of us believed he left because of poor attitute to go along with decreased playing time. Again it is all speculation, he could have a family situation that none of us know about.

    Now I’m going to drop the Shaq Evans issue and talk about Saturday. Saturday is eagerly approaching. All of us are excited. There is tons of potential, but still lingering questions, especially for the defense. We all know the Purdue game won’t answer the questions, but hopefully we can see improvement in the defense and have confidence that ND will progressively get better as the year goes along.

    If the defense is giving up less than 20 points a game, I will be satisfied. I also think that is a realistic expectation too. They just have to do it.

  7. The only guy to blame is Shaq, he did not cut it under 2 different coaches….. that right there tells you all you need to know.

    Go Irish!

  8. Kelly is developing character. Team character. There are going to be a few that aren’t getting that right now, especially at the age these kids are at. I hope Shaq does well and in fact if he goes to UCLA, I hope he lights up USC big time. But Kelly is running a team, and the team concept must be preserved. I do think Shaq is making a mistake. The Notre Dame education is real. Just ask the Honorable Allen Page, Dr. Ken McAffee, or Dr. Reggie Ho.

    But I did see a pattern in Kelly’s moves. I suspect he does want the upper classmen to get a message that he wants their leadership. Those that step up to the challenge will be back at starting positions. Most of the surprise moves seem to be done to send a message to the team. Kelly must really think he has something if he’s doing stuff like this. These are Holtz type of moves. HMMMMMM!!

    I still see ND at 45 and Purdue at 17. Kind of hope Michigan wins a sloppy sqeaker over UConn. I think Teo disrupts that offense and the 3-4 should setup to give Michigan problems sustaining drives. Look for Crist to light Michigan up. Not to overlook Purdue, but they should suck.

  9. To me, Shaq’s transfer kinda signifies the much needed different attitude brought by BK. As he said earlier, when he got here too many kids were thinking more about their future pro careers than the honor of playing for ND. Take Shaq as an example. He was a recruitig coup for CW, a top prospect with huge potential. I have no doubt Shaq was impressed by CW’s fingers full of rings and thoughts of playing in a program modeled after an NFL team. With its predominantly business like, positional centric practices. In comes BK and its no longer about blowin sunshine up an individual players butt pad. Its about the team and whoever best helps the team gets the playing time. Shaq didnt want to buy into that. And unlike CW that had the NFL mentality of negotiating with players, BK basically says if you dont wanna be here, be part of this, work to wear the jearsey, then this isnt the best place for you.

    What a difference a coach makes, huh? Shaq will undoubtedly be a great player with awesome individual stats wherever he ends up (rumor is UCLA)but I’d rather have a bunch of no name RKGs that pull together for the greater glory of the team anyday.

  10. The Irish won’t have a problem with transfers after the season starts as Coach Kelly substitutes players frequently. Coach Weis used the same players almost the whole game as Shaq Evans mentioned that he didn’t get any playing time after the Washington game. a good example was Clausen who played every game while Crist did not get the necessary experence for future years,

    1. The Crist never playing had more to do with the fact that ND couldn’t ever get or hold a lead last year….except at Washington State, where he did get playing time (and we all know how that ended)

  11. It is going to be a good year guys, we have talented players and the right mojo with BK! Go…………………………………….Irish!

  12. Yesterday I was somewhat concerned about the Shaq Evans transfer. Then I remembered the story about EJ Banks. Freshman cornerback. He lost his scholarship due to acedemic shortfalls. But he came back to ND, on his own dime. And rejoined the team as a walk on. This is what a team player is all about. I think it speaks volumes about the young man’s character.
    I wish him all the best, and look forward to one day seeing him on the field.


    1. I am really rooting for EJ! I hope he does well and I expect him to make it back very soon. As far as Shaq.. Good riddance. If he doesn’t want to be here. I don’t want him here.

  13. Why are people upset with Shaq transferring? If he was so good, he’d be playing. I wonder about his work ethic because last year he played in a few games and then just disappeared. He had a chance to shine with a new coach and a new system and he didn’t. You can’t say it was because he is young because a freshman is in the starting line-up. Also, a former running back is starting at the slot, so again, if Shaq was going to be a stud, he would have shined on the field.

    I truly believe that Kelly gave everyone a fair shake to earn a spot and he did not earn one, so if he wants to go somewhere else, let him go. We have a great group of receivers with or without him.

  14. spicey,

    I hear you. It’s a shame BK didn’t try to make a better pitch to keep Shaq at ND. This kid will be a stud. But this isn’t surprising. As the Irish get more talented and deeper more players down the depth chart will transfer. Thus, I expect one of our QB recruits to transfer in the near future. If this happens because of greater talent and depth on the roster, I can live with that!

    1. indeed…transferring because there is too much talent and competition is a good thing.

      I am actually glad kelly didn’t concede to whatever shaq’s grievance was. i have heard previous coaches moving players around b/c they threatened a transfer. although shaq doesn’t carry the clout of a 5 star prema donna, I think it shows that kelly is running the program the way he wants to, from the top down.

    2. SFR,

      I disagree on the “pitch” to keep Evans. Don’t get me wrong, I wish him well in the future, but I took this as a great sign. BK preaches that he wants players who are want to play for ND, and not for themselves. Evans seems to have been out for himself on this one, and means he wasn’t a RKG.

      That said, I agree with you on the statement that at least 1 of the current frosh trio of QB’s will probably transfer. Sadly that seems to be the nature of the beast in CFB.

      1. Bill,

        My only point was that by his own admission BK DIDN’T make any kind of “pitch.” Perhaps if this had been a dialogue between two parties some kind of agreement could’ve been found. Then again, perhaps not. Who knows. The point is that ND is getting more competitive and recruits need to know that BK isn’t afraid to let underachieving players go, no matter how highly recruited they were.

      2. Yeah, I read that.

        He also mentioned though that Shaq had talked to his family, and that if he hadn’t, he’d have had a more in depth discussion.

        It’s one of those things where Kelly feels (and I agree) that if you’ve talked to your family, and you think it’s the best decision for you, it’s not his place to try and change the kid’s mind. It also falls in line with what he’s said about how there’s no room for players who aren’t committed to the team.

      1. yes you can. when a kid is transferring it is up to the school releasing him if they want to put restrictions(where they can go) on the release. brian kelly/notre dame could have done that, but they did not. when weis had transfers, he would restrict them from going to a future opponent.

  15. Nevermind – ND officially released him to whatever school he chooses. Too bad but he didnt see himself fitting into where they wanted him to play. If you’re not buying in then you’re out. So be it but best of luck to him. He will be a very good receiver wherever he lands I am sure.

  16. look for wood to get a lot of playing time. i really like armando as a person, but he just doesn’t have the break-away ability that wood has. everyone says he is just a shoelace away from breaking a big gain, but that ALWAYS seems to be the case. he’s like the new LT vs. the old LT, he gets the job done but at the end of the day, he is a half-step short of being a dominant player.

    that sucks about shaq. i have a feeling that he will tear it up wherever he goes.

    1. ted,
      I think everyone exspected Armando to have a few 60 yard runs by now. I’m not sure how much of that had to do with him or his offensive line.
      He does do a good job of picking up the blitz, and catching passes out of the backfield.
      Being extremly thin at QB, I’m more concerned with the running backs getting their blocking assignments right and keeping Crist upright, than big gainers in the running game. Of course being able to do both is what’s exspected and needed.
      I was sorry to hear about Shaq as well. But it did get me thinking about this kid Toma who beat him out. He must be pretty darn good.

  17. Let’s hope that defensive line, which appears to be filled with returning starters, has beefed up a bit. We need some sacks. We need to control the game. Those guys have to step up and control the line.

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