6 Early Standouts from Notre Dame Spring Football ’18

We already took a look at the story lines from the first week of Notre Dame’s 2018 Spring practice.  Now we’ll take a look at some early potential standouts from the early goings.  Based on the way guys looked physically on the first day of practice, here are some players who appear to be ready to make a leap:

Dexter Williams and Tony Jones Jr.

Both look slimmer and more athletic. Jones Jr. changed his number to #6, and seeing him running routes out of the slot was reminiscent of Theo Riddick in 2012. He looked comfortable and quick, and was able to get separation from the safeties.

Williams also looked noticeably sleeker, with Kelly saying the drop in weight was an effort to keep him healthy. It’s impossible to guess what kind of role he will play in 2018, but we do know he has serious ability.

When gauging the ceiling of the 2018 team, these two guys and what they become are major factors.

Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah

Apparently he’s an athletic marvel who moves like a sleek big game cat. He’s currently slotted behind Asmar Bilal at Rover, but Bilal’s career has gone by why of Ishaq Williams. He’s physically gifted, but the plays just haven’t been there. If Owusu-Koramoah emerges as a playmaker, it’s hard to see him not taking over the spot.

The thing that could hold him back is his lack of girth. He’s listed as being 210 pounds; Tranquill played this spot last season at 230, and a slimmed down Jordan Genmark-Heath is playing strong safety at 211. Is Owusu-Koramoah big enough to handle the position week to week? Perhaps not, but his potential is immense.

Jordan Genmark Heath

Speaking of the sophomore safety, he appears intent on inserting himself into the safety discussion permanently. He dropped around nine pounds in the offseason and is moving a lot better in man coverage against slot receivers. He showed a nice ability to come up and make plays in the running game in his short time against LSU, and some improved range in coverage could give him a leg up in a situation where range was not a feature in the Irish secondary last season. He also changed to #2, if you believe that sort of thing matters at all. There is just something about single digits.

Javon McKinley

Could this be the season McKinley’s immense talent and potential is realized? The thing about receiver is there is so much opportunity, but also so many bodies. It’s like being one shot off the lead in a golf tournament, but tied with seven other golfers. Sure, you’re close to the top, but you need to beat out a plethora of others. That’s receiver. McKinley theoretically doesn’t have to do much to get into the rotation, if not start, but there are a lot of people in the same spot.

The good news is, McKinley has positioned himself very well physically. He looks the best he has since his arrival in South Bend, and he has the pedigree to back it up. He put up phenomenal numbers against the best competition in the Golden State, it’s just a matter of bringing it all together.

Michael Young

Young is going to be my “irrational belief in his abilities” guy this offseason. I’ve come to accept it. I know it’s wrong to make too much of a few practice clips, especially when they are non-padded. But my goodness, does he look explosive. He came on at the end of last season, and was a hot topic in pre-season camp, so he’s been involved for a long time. Watching him run by Troy Pride, the teams fastest player and possible starter, continually on Tuesday was eye-opening.

It remains to be seen just how Notre Dame feels they can use Young. Can he play the X or W, a la Will Fuller? Do they want to put him in the slot, which lends itself to someone of his size? That also would give them the opportunity to give him the ball on jet sweeps and the like. Whatever the case, Notre Dame really has something in the sophomore receiver and I’m ready to overreact.

2018 Notre Dame Early Enrollees Starting to Get Numbers

You may also like


  1. Bruce Gregory Curme 5 hours ago

    I agree with you that ND does not have a soft schedule. Normally, I would not bother to say that (stating the obvious), but I saw a silly analysis on one of the sports network that claimed that ND has an easier schedule than ANY power five conference winner would have, and therefore could not make the playoffs even with a 12-0 season. Silly. I’ve been thinking about that segment for two weeks. Michigan, Wake Forest, Pitt, Stanford, VT, Florida State, USC, and yes, NAVY…the ACC schedule by itself is pretty brutal.
    You can already tell that the ND haters are scared! Well, you have plenty of reason to be scared, boys!

    BGC ’77 ’82

    Reply Like Dislike
    1. Bruce Gregory Curme 5 hours ago

      Sorry, I left out our “breathers” – Vanderbilt and Northwestern…not the best teams in their conferences, but not to be taken lightly!

      BGC ’77 ’82

      Reply Like Dislike
  2. Sean 3 days ago

    Until we make our special teams special( block punts, extra points , return the ball to the house), we
    Will never win a national championship. It is a difference maker in a close game, and KELLY continues to ignore them.

    Reply Like Dislike
    1. duranko 3 days ago

      I couldn’t agree more. He can no longer afford a ham-and-egger, recently promoted grad assistant.

      He should seek out somebody who had prior, successful experience as a special teams coach.

      It would be preferable if that coach has a football family pedigree, in which he would have been steeped in the traditional
      importance of special teams.

      It would be optimal, of course for Kelly to get off his duff and even try to get a coach who had prior head coaching experience.

      Oh, wait, Sean! Kelly did that.

      Polian was special teams coordinator at Baylor, coordinated special teams at Notre Dame, at Stanford under both
      Harbaugh and David Shaw, and at A&M under Kevin Sumlin.
      Polian was the head coach at the Mountain West’s Reno Wolfpack.

      When Polian was hired he was exclusively special teams coach without an attached position responsibility.

      “Kelly continues to ignore them.”

      Your post is simultaneously inaccurate, hysterical and nonsensical. Do better, Sean

      Reply Like Dislike
      1. Bruce Gregory Curme 2 days ago

        Our special teams (other than the kicking and punting) are still dormant. As I said in another post, Coach Polian stopped the bleeding from 2016…I mean we did not lose either possessions or entire games because of a ST screw up in 2017! That in itself was an achievement! But SEAN is right about one thing…every time we won a NC, it seems like there was one game where our Special Teams exploded on somebody – just think of that stop on a Hurricane fake punt in the ’88 Miami game…that was HUGE – and it changed the tenor of that game.
        So let’s improve…for that day in 2018!

        Bruce G. Curme ’77 ’82

        Like Dislike
  3. HURLS 4 days ago

    WiMbush could become WiNbush if he gains confidence. Gotta believe the talent’s there. After working with the QB Guru (name?) I am ready for a confident, poised man at QB. That’s what we need. GoIRISH.

    Reply Like Dislike
    1. southside 3 days ago

      I couldn’t agree more Hurls . A poised , confident Wimbush is exactly what Irish need.

      Reply Like Dislike
      1. Bruce Gregory Curme 3 days ago

        Southside , It is what the Irish need, but is it going to happen? With the defense and running game we have we only need about a 55% completion rate to annihilate our foes. I want that rate (as a minimum) from my QB. And if Wimbush can do it, all the better.

        Bruce G. Curme
        La Crosse, Indiana

        Like Dislike
  4. ndcrazymike 6 days ago

    I see LIL MACNAMARA says he found the place he was looking for in MICHIGAN!! Sounds believable the coach is on the HOTSEAT, they’ve had more OFF COORDINATORS in the last year than most teams have in 5 years, and so far HARBOUGH has done nothing in 3 years but lose every meaningful game MICH. has played!! QBS have suffered most under HARBOUGH, check the stats!!! Good luck lil macky!! GO IRISH!!!!!!!

    Reply Like Dislike
  5. Keith 7 days ago

    It’s early in the morning and I’m at a weekend wedding party where they’ve been serving mimosas, so forgive any typos while I let my optimism shine:

    We’re going to be good this year. 4-8 was a fluke. We’re about to have 10 wins in 3 out 4 years. But it’s better than that. I remember how how those Holtz teams felt. I was a little kid; but I remember KNOWING that Notre Dame could play and beat anybody.

    I’m not saying we have that level of talent now. But we’re having conversations about how we replace 1st round draft picks and about where are potential All-Americans should line up. And I’m sitting here KNOWING that Notre Dame can play with anybody and win. We could have in 2012. We could have in 2015 (injury/suspension bug bit hard that year). And we could have in 2017. Yes, we fade in November. Yes, we got blown out at Miami.

    But we had a double digit loss to Stanford in 1992. Penn St. beat us by 22 in 1991. Those were great years! And look where we were in ‘93! I’m not saying we’ve reached the level of those legendary years under Holtz. We aren’t elite. But we’re top 10. By almost every measure, we are within reach. Could we say that in ‘07? ‘09?

    We aren’t #BAMA (one of those guys is here, friend of the groom) or Ohio St. But we don’t want to be. Really, deep down, we don’t want to be those guys. We are Notre Dame. And we are good. And we can, once again, play with anybody. So this spring, let’s all enjoy a simple chant together: Here. Come. The. Irish.

    Reply Like Dislike
    1. ndcrazymike 6 days ago

      HOPEFULLY the chant will b HERE COMES THE OFFENSE!!! IRISH need a big year from ( whoever ) plays QB!! Last year the DEFENSE was a ? This years team needs to find consistency at QB and RB!!! ALOT OF ? THIS YEAR!! CHIP LONG HAS HIS WORK CUT OUT FOE HIM THIS YEAR!!!!

      Reply Like Dislike
  6. Bruce Gregory Curme 1 week ago

    I grew up in South Bend (just like almost all “fac brats” do). I hope you understand that every dish washed at ND, every sheet washed at ND, every blade of grass cut at ND, every fire sprinkler installed and every brick cemented at ND, all of it was done, and is done to this day, by good people from South Bend, Mishawaka, Granger, etc.
    Without the people of South Bend, Notre Dame would be a log cabin, a log chapel, and an outhouse. Who in hell do you think built the place – Holy Cross priests?

    Bruce G. Curme
    La Crosse, Indiana

    Reply Like Dislike
  7. Hank 1 week ago

    When you say a player has “arrived in South Bend” what the hell does that mean? No Notre Dame sports team has played in South Bend for over 45 years. All the athletic facilities that student athletes participate in at Notre Dame are located in Notre Dame, Indiana. Please make a mental note of this and stop giving South Bend credit for anything Notre Dame related!

    Reply Like Dislike
    1. southside 1 week ago

      It’s about time Hank. By golly , to think Santa Claus lives in the North Pole — nothing can be farther from the truth. Ya ever hear of Santa Claus , Indiana ? This is where Santa lives. Go ahead look it up.

      Reply Like Dislike
  8. ndcrazymike 1 week ago

    YES the Defense will b solid this year barring injurys, the HUGE unknown is the offense!!! WHEN your question marks are QB, RB, WR, AND REPLACEING not 1 but 2 all-americans on the o-line you have alotta work to do! Please stop with the talk of how WIMBUSH looking better in spring practice it was 1 week! He had a month off b4 LSU bowl game and that didn’t help a bit!! IF u recall last years BLUE-GOLD GAME BOOK played better than WIMBUSH!! We desperately need Wimbush to improve his upside is off the charts but its gonna take more than 1 week of throwing the ball around!! IM with the live practice to let the QBS get hit feel real pressure!!

    Reply Like Dislike
    1. Bruce Gregory Curme 1 week ago

      The real questions are at QB and the “O” line. We have a guy who can run the ball (DW) and certainly have a couple of guys who can catch it if it’s anywhere near them (MB and CC). While there may be some depth issues at running back and wideout, we’ve got the starters, if only the coaches let them play!
      Can we replace two AA’s in the “O” line and settle the QB issue? I think we will, and we’ll win 11 games with them though clearly nobody can replace Quentin. I still say that with our depth and quality at defensive positions, we are in good shape by any sane measurement: I’m telling you guys this again – we are only going to need about 21 points per game to win! (Assuming our “O” doesn’t give up “pick sixes” and can move the ball a little bit when we are pinned down deep).
      Plus we have a fine punter and Yoon. We are good to go people! Hit the weights and make all your dreams come true…just like last year only stretch it into November this time.
      Besides my 11-1 prediction, I have one other prediction – 2018 is going to be a very sad year for ND haters!

      BGC ’77 ’82

      Reply Like Dislike
      1. southside 1 week ago

        I’m all in on the 11 wins Bruce. I don’t think Irish schedule is easy by any means. First game against Michigan–beat them and road blocks ahead are the usual scheduled rivalries Stanford/USC. I’m not saying other teams are pushovers — just that Stanford/USC are always a pain in the ass in October or last game in November. Irish need to beat these two in same season—to get to pay dirt.

        Like Dislike
  9. Alan Francis 1 week ago

    The past few seasons have seen a huge improvement in depth-talent and now Strength & Conditioning. There is serious competition at all positions and many guys will be playing at those spots on Saturdays with good replacements rotating in and guys who are bigger and stronger .

    Each position has depth to alternate different types of abilities and create mismatches or take away weaknesses depending on the down and distance. We have to use a lot of guys to stay strong and fresh in November when the big money playoff spots are in play.

    QB play does not have to be spectacular….just very efficient and error free….the play calling and talent will take care of the rest. We made huge improvements last year in the Red Zone–especially scoring TD’s—that has to continue.

    Looking forward to the Spring Practices and reports…..lots of heated battles going on. “Iron sharpens Iron…”

    Reply Like Dislike
  10. duranko 1 week ago

    Our two hyphenated sophs, Genmark-Heath and Owusu-Koramoah, are just the first robins of the athletic spring that is arriving at Notre Dame with the 2017 recruiting class. The “outer shell” of the defense with Griffith already there, and Derrik Allen,
    Shayne Simon and Paul Moala arriving in June complement the athleticism at linebacker with Jack Lamb and Ovie Oghoufo.

    In today’s spread offense world you need players on the outer shell of the defense that can collapse and close space quickly.

    The defensive “architecture” stabilized when Elko and Lea arrived and will continue with Lea’s ascendancy.

    But the pipeline for defensive talent is filling up very nicely at safety, rover and linebacker.

    The defensive roster that will show up at Culver in August is leaps and bounds better than the defensive roster of 2013-2014. This may start to be fun.

    Reply Like Dislike
  11. Keith 2 weeks ago

    What I like is the overall development of the strength and conditioning program. Players are progressing physically l, decisions are being made about player weight, and the players are following through with that.

    Tough to predict what that means for any of these players—but it bodes well for the team as a whole.

    Reply Like Dislike
  12. Michael the Archangel 2 weeks ago

    Two players’ development I’d be interested in hearing about are NG Ewell and S Gilman.
    What a difference their development could make.
    And there seems to be the potential for more depth in the lines.
    How well the lines evolve, and if they can approach dominance in the trenches, would make things much easier for the QBs, RBs, and LBs.

    Reply Like Dislike
    1. southside 1 week ago

      MTA /Duranko , glad that you guys are focusing on the D–and the players you mention. I realize popular story is about the QB contest–but to get to through a 12 game schedule knocking on door to playoffs come November–Irish will need a strong D. I like the “trending up” of what can transpire ahead. You know who the players are –and I’m excited to see some new faces comeforth to help out. Go Irish !

      Reply Like Dislike
      1. duranko 1 week ago

        Southside, what has me additionally geeked is that, except for linebacker, we have true depth, waaaaaaaaaayyy more
        than we had in 2012. With Gilman and Allen and maybe Genmark-Heath and perhaps Griffin, 2016 starter Studstill
        and 2017 starter Elliot may struggle for snaps.

        Ogundeji is good to go, per Elston, but he is the fifth DE. Riddle me this, southside, when was the last time
        that Notre Dame had a “problem” which consitituted finding enough playing time for the third string defensive end????

        Remember, the great Bill Walsh is on record as saying that the key to winning big games is being able to generate an
        effective pass rush in the Fourth quarter. Without rest and without staying under 50 snaps, the pass rush will not be there when you need it most. DEPTH AT DL!

        Like Dislike