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Football: Depth charge

Laura Myers | Wednesday, September 1, 2010

When Notre Dame’s two-deep depth chart for Saturday’s game against Purdue was released Monday, some players were very happy.

“It feels like all the hard work I’ve been putting in since I started playing football has finally paid off,” said junior center Braxston Cave, who earned the starting spot over senior Dan Wenger.

But the updated depth chart could have also prompted one player to leave the team.

Sophomore wide receiver Shaq Evans was granted a release from the team, Irish coach Brian Kelly announced at his weekly press conference Tuesday.

“He is no longer on the team,” Kelly said. “He made a decision that he felt it was in his best interest to transfer. We granted him a release and we wish him the very best. He’s a good kid.”

Evans did not appear on the depth chart following a move to the slot receiver position during fall camp. Sophomores Theo Riddick and Roby Toma are No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, at that position.

Evans did not give a specific reason for his departure, Kelly told reporters after the press conference.

“He came in yesterday and informed me that he had made a decision,” Kelly said. “This was not a two-way conversation, this was a one-way conversation.”

The wide receiver spots were some of many position battles that were solved upon release of the depth chart — at least, solved for now.

“Any day it could change,” said freshman receiver TJ Jones, who earned the No. 1 spot on the right side above senior Duval Kamara. “It’s a competition, day in and day out.”

While many starting positions were firmly locked, Jones said others were unsure about where they would land on the roster.

“Every day up ‘til the day it was released the depth chart was moving,” he said. “People were moving from first to third, second to third, second to first, so nobody really knew.”

In many instances, players were simply jostling for the No. 2 designation. Sophomore tight end Tyler Eifert and freshman quarterback Tommy Rees were two such players, though Kelly said Rees is still in competition with junor Nate Montana.

“There were only two slots to fill out,” Kelly said. “I didn’t have 2a and 2b. Really, that position is still one that will be evaluated all week and quite honestly all year … I don’t think it’s accurate to say he’s got that position nailed down.”

Several freshmen cracked the charts as well. Along with Jones and Rees, outside linebacker Prince Shembo, inside linebacker Danny Spond and cornerback Lo Wood were all listed at No. 2 of their respective positions. Jones, Rees and Wood were early-enrollees, but Shembo and Spond did not practice with the team until the fall.

On the defensive chart, the biggest battle ended with senior outside linebacker Kerry Neal above 2009 starter and fellow senior Brian Smith.

“I wouldn’t get married to who’s first and second,” Kelly said. “They’re interchangeable pieces.”

Defensive coordinator Bob Diaco said the list shouldn’t have come as a surprise to players, or as something that can’t be changed.

“The players and coaches are in daily communication about their assets and liabilities as it relates to their role on the team, which is constantly changing,” he said. “Conditioning comes into play, drive sequence comes into play, health comes in to play. Installation, type of offense comes into play as it relates to exposing a liability or helping someone’s asset. Every day is different, every week is different, every opponent is different.”