When Brian Kelly met with the media on Saturday following the first practice in full pads for fall camp 2017, one topic that he touched on that deserved its own post was the early freshman standouts. Everyone wants to know which frosh are looking good and which might play this year so let’s jump right in.
Kelly called out six freshmen by name as well as singling out the entire midterm enrollees as well. Now before we get into each, remember it’s still the first week and Kelly has been known to tout some freshmen early on to motivate his upperclassmen before.
Freshmen DT’s WIll Play, But Not the One You Think
Darnell Ewell was one almost every list of early impact freshmen around signing day, but Kelly revealed on Saturday that both Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa and Kurt Hinish are ahead of the more highly rated Ewell. The reason? Ewell is still just very raw and needs more development.
“Myron and Kurt are players that have separated themselves at the defensive tackle position,” Kelly said. “Darnell is just more developmental, learning the game and learning the nuances of the technique. He’s powerfully strong, but he doesn’t have some of the technique and things necessary right now.”
Kelly left little doubt that Ewell would develop though. “It’s all ‘yet’ right? He’s gonna have it, he just doesn’t have it yet,” Kelly said. It is still very early here so there is no reason to freak out.
As for Lord Myron (we’re going to keep using this nickname until it sticks) and Hinish. It sounds like they could help Notre Dame out at one of its thinnest positions early on. “Those guys have what it takes to contribute as freshmen. We see them both playing as freshmen,” Kelly said.
Wide Receivers Standing Out
The defensive tackles aren’t the only pair who has impressed so far in camp. Kelly also singled out the frosh wide receivers. “A couple of the freshman wide receivers. Michael Young and Jafar Armstrong,” Kelly said. ” Those two kids have been very impressive. They’re very intentional in what they do, very mature. They have really been impressive in how they hand themselves on a day to day basis.,” Kelly added.
Notre Dame is pretty loaded at wide receiver this year so it would be a bit surprising to see either crack the rotation, but Coach D from Blue & Gold Illustrated tweeted yesterday that it will be hard to keep Young off the field.
I was hoping Michael Young could redshirt but I dont see how that happens. He is way too dynamic to not play. Very gifted.
— Bryan Driskell (@CoachD178) August 5, 2017
Driskell has been very high on Young for a long time though. When Young was a composite 3-star recruit, Coach D kept saying that Young had a dynamic skillset and was better than his 3-star rating.
Armstrong meanwhile has reportedly shown up to camp in phenomenal shape and looks a bit more like a freshman running back than a freshman wide receiver. Despite being a late offer in the 2017 recruiting cycle, Armstrong looks like he was a really great pick up.
Cole Kmet Surging
In addition to calling out the early enrollees, Kelly gave tight end Cole Kmet some praise as well. “Cole Kmet is extremely gifted physically, can run out,” said Kelly. While Brock Wright got more of the hype because of his higher ranking and early enrollment, the Cole Kmet bandwagon is filling up fast. Almost every practice report has like Kmet as one of the most impressive freshmen early on.
If you listen to Mike Frank’s Power Hour podcast, Coach Bob Chimel has been extremely high on Kmet for a while now. The first practice of the season last week didn’t do anything to change his opinion either. Chimel has stated a number of times now that Kmet has the potential to be the next great Notre Dame tight end. Between he and Wright, Notre Dame has a hell of young duo at the position.
Oh, and don’t forget about Wright either. He is really, really good too.
Brock Wright was dominant at the POA during blocking drills. His ability to get movement in the run game stands out.
— Bryan Driskell (@CoachD178) August 5, 2017
Avery Davis Commanding Respect
As soon as Phil Jurkovec committed to Notre Dame last summer, most Notre Dame fans started thinking of him as the future heir apparent to Brandon Wimbush, but don’t sleep on Avery Davis. “I like Avery Davis’s presence at the quarterback position,” Kelly said on Saturday. “Very commanding in the way he stands in front of the group. As a head coach you know when you have a guy who can take over like that, it’s impressive.”
This shouldn’t be much of a surprise. Avery Davis is a winner and in February I wrote about how he may just have been the most important signee on the offensive side of the ball in the class of 2017. Notre Dame has a legit #3 quarterback this season with Davis. He may be raw and need to develop, but he has a trait that is tough to teach. He’s a winner.
With Davis and Ian Book backing up Wimbush this year and Jurkovec on the way in 2018 and Cade McNamara coming in 2019, Notre Dame has built up a solid depth chart and has more talent coming in the next two years.