Laura Myers | Monday, April 12, 2010
Evaluation was the word of the day Saturday as the Irish held their first spring scrimmage after two weeks of practice.
The team ran more than 50 plays as the coaching staff continued to assess the players and their progress.
“We’re trying to evaluate where that best is. Experimenting, I guess, is one way to look at it,” Irish coach Brian Kelly said. “We’re not really sure what’s going to best fit our football team. I think we’re still in that period. I think this scrimmage allows us to get away from the evaluation and say, ‘OK, here’s where we believe his strengths to be.”
Few positions are set in stone at this point in the spring, and wide receivers coach Tony Alford said Friday the scrimmage could help distinguish some players.
“There’s a couple guys who are starting to show up a little more than others. But that’s through the course of time. We’re only six practices in,” Alford said.
Defensive backs coach Chuck Martin also said it would take more time to evaluate players.
“I like all my top eight to 11 guys,” Martin said. “I think they have shown signs that they can be pretty productive players at Notre Dame. I can probably put clips together to sell you on any of them, but I could also put a clip together or two and sell you that they can’t play anybody in the country.
“We’re not really worried about the big picture evaluation yet, we’re just trying to get better.”
However, Kelly said the staff is on its way to determining where the players will land on the depth chart.
“Today was movement day for a number of guys relative to positions,” he said. “We’ve got to say, ‘Alright, we can’t move him again. Here’s where he is, he stays here. Will we move him back to that other position?’ I think we’ll be able to, with this scrimmage, to really make some final decisions on personnel.”
Now halfway through the 14 spring practices leading to the Blue-Gold game, Kelly said the Irish are beginning to show positive developments.
“We’ve still got a long way to go,” Kelly said. “But again, I think our guys understand how to practice. Today was lively, no injuries, nobody was put in a compromising position so they’re learning how to practice, which is really step one for us.”
Martin said learning is a main objective as practices continue.
“I think our goal with all our groups, with my group, is just to keep getting better,” Martin said. “Learn our system, learn each other, grow together, become more cohesive as a unit — coaches and players alike.
“We’re level one out of 1,000 levels so we’ve got a long, long ways to go but we’re heading in the right direction.”
Martin, who is also Notre Dame’s recruiting coordinator, said his staff is hard at work finding next year’s class of recruits.
“We started from scratch, particularly nationally, and I don’t think there’s a whole lot of kids in the country that we don’t know about, haven’t identified and haven’t evaluated,” he said. “I think we’re off to a good start, obviously it’s a long way to next February, but we’re excited.
“Coach Kelly’s a great finisher. It’s a great sell, not only Notre Dame the school, the University, South Bend, but also Coach Kelly’s a pretty easy sell, so we’ll just keep working at it, try to find 17, 18 kids who want to come play football for Notre Dame.”
Tight end recruit Nick Vannett from Westerville, Ohio, visited practice Friday.