Notre Dame held its first practice of fall camp 2019 at Culver Academy on Sunday, so it’s time for some overreactions…. errr observations. It’s really impossible to take anything too definitive from the first day of practice without pads on, but we’re all addicted to Notre Dame football and hungry for some info so let’s recap.
Reminder: before reading this, remember that this is day one of camp and there were no pads. Take everything with a large grain of salt.
Kyle Hamilton looks every bit as good as advertised
Someone check in on Greg because on day one of camp, Kyle Hamilton apparently but on a show. The true freshman, in his first collegiate practice, intercepted three passes on the day. Now, two of them were on tipped passes, but that is pretty damn impressive.
#NotreDame has finished its first practice of the year.
Freshman safety Kyle Hamilton had 3 interceptions. 2 on balls that were off the hands of a receiver. pic.twitter.com/ONTLXD0aMh
— Matt Freeman (@mattfreemanISD) August 4, 2019
The hype has been slowly building for Hamilton for a while. He is going to have some kind of role in the Notre Dame defense this fall. He is simply too talented not to be on the field in some capacity. He isn’t going to pick off three passes in every practice, but he is going to be too good to keep off the field.
Reminder: Greg has been on the Hamilton hype train since Hamilton was just a 3-star recruit on most recruiting services.
Donte Vaughn looks ready to prove the people who doubted him wrong
Senior Donte Vaughn was the #1 cornerback at the field position opposite Troy Pride on Sunday. Vaughn took a lot of heat for his Cotton Bowl performance, but we did later learn that he was playing with a should injury that he battled through. Sunday he ran with the first-team defense while Houston Griffith backed up Pride at the boundary.
Donte Vaughn was the No. 1 field CB today. Houston Griffith was No. 2 in the boundary. Vaughn had a strong day. Very good in press and run.
— Bryan Driskell (@BGI_CoachD) August 4, 2019
Most people forget that Vaughn was one of the most impressive of the freshman defensive back class that included Pride and Julian Love back in 2016. Injuries have slowed him down a bit, but he still has the talent and profile to be a factor this fall. If he can put the Cotton Bowl behind him, don’t be surprised if he is a week one starter for the Irish.
Shaun Crawford was playing safety?
Whether or not 5th year senior Shaun Crawford can fully recover from his 3rd major injury in his collegiate career is one of the more significant questions facing the Notre Dame defense this summer. On day one of camp Crawford was playing all over the field including safety. That’s very odd for someone Crawford’s size.
Kelly said after practice that Crawford deserves a chance to start at corner so maybe we shouldn’t read too much into this at this point, but still, safety?
Quarterbacks were shaky on day one
Phil Jurkovec threw all three of Hamilton’s interceptions. That’s not exactly an encouraging sign for the sophomore quarterback after his uneven performance in the Blue and Gold game. Ian Book wasn’t exactly in mid-season form either. Guess what though? It’s day one of fall camp. It’s normal for both quarterbacks to be shaky at least until they get their timing down.
One encouraging sign from day one though was the arm of Brendon Clark. In his first practice as a Notre Dame quarterback, Clark showed plenty of arm strength. He needs a lot of work in other arms, but reports of his arm strength are very encouraging.
Jack Lamb was the 1st team BUCK
The entire linebacking corps is one big question mark for Notre Dame this fall. On day one of fall camp, Jack Lamb was the first team BUCK. It looked like he finished the spring there before an injury cost him the Blue & Gold game. 5th year senior Asmar Bilal was first-team MIKE and junior Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah the first team ROVER.
Owusu-Koramoah, by the way, apparently was very impressive in practice # 1.
Jeremiah Owusu is going to have a pick six this year. His closing speed is truly elite. Ability to close on the ball is rare and special. Made multiple plays showing that today.
— Bryan Driskell (@BGI_CoachD) August 4, 2019
Notre Dame’s 2nd team linebacking corps consisted of Jordan Genmark-Heath at BUCK, Drew White at MIKE, and Paul Moala at ROVER. Bo Bauer and Shayne Simon were in the mix here too. There will be a lot of competition throughout the LB corps, and that competition will continue throughout fall camp.
Clark Lea has his work cut out for him over the next month as he tries to find a group that can fill in for Drue Tranquill and Tevon Coney without there being a massive drop-off. We know there will undoubtedly be a drop-off. If they can mitigate that as much as possible, though, the defense should be fine.
Braden Lenzy flashed some speed
We’re beating a dead horse here when we say that Notre Dame needs some playmakers at wide receiver, but hey, Notre Dame needs some playmakers at wide receivers. Braden Lenzy flashed some speed and big-play ability on Sunday. Is he part of the answer here? Too early to tell, but Lenzy reportedly looked good today.
The first team receivers were no surprise with Chase Claypool, Michael Young, and Chris Finke taking those reps. Who lines up with the second team though will be interesting to watch all summer because that second unit is going to play. And that second unit is going to be counted on to make some plays.
Speaking of answers at wide receiver…
Kevin Austin not on 1st or 2nd Unit
Brian Kelly’s answer of “he’s still on our team” regarding Kevin Austin on Friday was a good indicator that the off-season rumors of a suspension were true. Sunday’s practice pairings were further confirmation of that. Austin, arguably one of the most talented wide receivers on the roster, was not on either the first or second team. Javon McKinley, who has had his own off-the-field issues was. That’s not a good sign for Austin’s early-season availability.
At this point, it seems like a “how many games won’t he be available for” versus an “is he going to be suspended” question for Austin. Reminder, two is the magic number. Anything more and Austin isn’t available in Athens.
Notre Dame practices again from Culver tomorrow and then again Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday before they return to campus on Friday.