Brian Kelly kicked off the 2018 season with his opening press conference. Here are the highlights. (Note: we’ll add the full video if/when WatchND posts it).
- Julian Okwara put on the weight he lost over the spring, back up to 241 pounds from 230. He should be ready to compete at defensive end. Daelin Hayes is up to 265 pounds, as is Khalid Kareem.
- Avery Davis was listed as only a quarterback and not some slash role that we saw in the spring. Whether or not he sees time elsewhere is to be determined. *Kelly later said Davis will work mainly out of the backfield, so there you go.
- Joe Wilkins is listed as a receiver/defensive back. It was reported he was going to move to wide receiver his freshman season.
- Not a roster tidbit, but Notre Dame opened at #11 in the coaches poll. Michigan at #14. USC at #15.
Sam Mustipher Leads The Way, Wimbush Gets An A+
Same Mustipher was the first player Brian Kelly mentioned when talking about leadership for this seasons football team. If you want a strong leader on the offensive line, it coming from the center is very advantageous. He is literally in the center of everything, and can handle all of the calls from his spot. A very good sign for an offensive line losing top flight talent.
Kelly loved what he saw from Wimbush over the summer in terms of leadership and preparation. The story of Wimbush will be told in other ways next season, but this is good to hear from the starter who struggled to end 2017. Kelly noted the team is unstoppable when Wimbush is on his game, which is probably true. Quite a lot hinges on his senior signal caller.
If Up To Kelly The Team Will Wear Blue Against Michigan
A lot has been made of a “green out” against the Wolverines, something Kelly said the students wanted. There has been internet speculation in recent days, since Brian Kelly confirmed the green out on twitter, that this would mean the team may wear the controversial green jerseys against Michigan. Kelly was firm in his preference for blue in the opener, but given the tradition of the practice for green jersey games, you can never be sure till kickoff.
The Team Will Adjust To The New Redshirt Rule
Kelly will scrimmage the young players more aggressively due to them being allowed to compete in four games without losing a year of eligibility. Quarterback Phil Jurkovec was obviously mentioned. Kelly stated they will give him more of an opportunity to compete, but there is no rush in his development. He definitely wanted to temper expectations for his young signal caller.
Kelly Mystical Regarding Dexter Williams
Williams received a ton of praise from Kelly in terms of is preparation, calling it his best offseason of work. He added 8-10 pounds of muscle, and Kelly said Williams will help Notre Dame win this year. When asked if he will be available against Michigan, Kelly quipped, “He’s on our roster.”
As I said earlier this week, watch who Williams is taking reps with, and that’s your answer.
Khalid Kareem And Chase Claypool Ready To Impress
Two players I highlighted today in an upcoming breakout players piece, Kelly stated these two were ready to take their games to the next level.
Kelly asserted Kareem believes he can go in and dominate a football game, while Claypool has been more consistent in his approach, on and off the field. There was the proverbial “switch being flipped” regarding Claypool, which always seems to come up with him. Kelly also mentioned him as having better traits, pretty much the highest praise Kelly will give.
Houston Griffith Is Going To Play A Lot
At least that was my takeaway from Kelly’s comments regarding the early enrollee defensive back. First, he’s listed at nearly six feet and 205 pounds, so he is physically ready to be out there. Kelly noted he can also play corner and lauded his “functional intelligence” (instincts) and said his age wouldn’t preclude him from playing. This is coach speak for “he is going to play a lot for us.” I’ve consistently heard rave reviews from the Notre Dame beat regarding Griffith and his offseason, so this is no surprise.
Rover Is Wide Open
Kelly confirmed what many suspected, the Rover position is wide open between Asmar Bilal, Jeremiah Owusu-Koramaoh, and Shayne Simon. This will be a battle to watch throughout camp, with Bilal having to fight off some serious talent behind him. Frankly, I expect all three to play.