Brian Kelly opened up spring football 2015 on Tuesday with his introductory press conference giving a state of the union of sorts as Notre Dame starts one of the most pivotal spring practices of his tenure at Notre Dame.
We’ve already covered the return of Jarrett Grace which will give the Irish linebacking corps a big boost, the potential return of Ishaq Williams which appears to be in serious doubt, and the cross training of CJ Prosise at running back with stories last night so here is a recap of the other highlights from Kelly’s spring kick-off presser.
- The most unsurprising comment of the day from Kelly was that Everett Golson needs to do a better job of protecting the football and hone his craft of being a quarterback. Golson’s turnover struggles in 2014 are what has created the quarterback competition this spring.
- From Malik Zaire, Kelly said that he wants to see him to continue to show the natural leadership that he showed during the Music City Bowl.
- Kelly said that he doesn’t know how long it will take for a quarterback to establish himself as a clear cut #1 QB for the Irish offense. This wasn’t surprising either since Kelly has a very delicate quarterback depth chart to navigate right now.
- Jalen Brown was not invited back for a 5th year while Ben Councell has decided not to continue his football career. Matt Hegarty meanwhile had a roster spot if he wanted it, but still decided to transfer for his 5th year.
- With Hegarty gone, the depth chart at center is 1) Nick Martin, 2) Sam Mustipher, and 3) Tristen Hoge.
- Kelly specifically singled out freshmen Jerry Tillery and Tevon Coney as two early enrollees that the staff is looking at.
- 5th year seniors are not official at this point. The staff is still waiting on academic approval for the 5th year athletes. Some of those decisions could extend past the spring semester.
- Quenton Nelson and Alex Bars will be battling for the starting left guard position with Nick Martin moving back to center and Matt Hegarty deciding to transfer. If Bars doesn’t win the starting job, he could cross-train back at tackle where he was originally recruited.
- Chase Hounshell, a defensive lineman his entire career, will attempt to make the move to tight end as a potential 5th year candidate.
- Kelly is really excited about the depth that Notre Dame has built because it will allow the Irish to be more physical in spring practice in terms of drills like the Oklahoma drill and other drills he didn’t feel comfortable running given depth problems the Irish have had in the past.
- Kelly called out both Jonathan Bonner and Jhonny Williams in his opening presser saying they would play roles for Notre Dame in 2015. Kelly did the same a few times over the summer though heading into last season and neither saw the field.
- John Turner will be playing safety this spring after playing as a linebacker last year.
- Doug Randolph is going to play the rush end at times for Notre Dame with Kelly saying that the staff thinks he could fill a role as a pass rusher.