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Notre Dame Football

Notre Dame Down In Georgia Working Behind Enemy Lines

March 19, 2020

Notre Dame has canceled in-person classes and postponed spring football, but it hasn't slowed down training for the Fighting Irish football team. 

JD Bertrand, Kyle Hamilton Jack Kiser and KJ Wallace are in Atlanta and getting work in at The Rack Athletic Performance with Ed Miller. 

Bertrand, Kiser and Wallace redshirted a year ago and were locked into position battles entering the spring when the coronavirus hit. 

Now, it's about getting better individually and there isn't a lack of motivation from the group. 

"JD is the kid all the coaches want because he’ll work hard and do whatever you ask him to do," Miller said of the Notre Dame linebacker. "He just wants to get better." 

Bertrand started working with Miller around this time last year, but this year is different. 

Bertrand missed the State Title game as he suffered a right MCL sprain in the semifinals (Per Pete Sampson of The Athletic) and is now healthier than ever. 

“He’s a strong kid, so I would say he’s stronger than Kyle and KJ," Miller explained. "When I first started working with JD last year, he was coming off his injury and he needed to get his power and speed back. We worked on a lot of that last year.

“I think he’s back up to par now.” 

Rick Kimball/ISD
JD Bertrand

Health is always a crucial part of any athlete's success and Miller believes a healthy Bertrand will turn some heads.

“When he moves sideline to sideline, he’s a lot faster than you would think," stated Miller. "Over the last year, his strength is still on par, but his ability to display his strength, which is power, has gotten better too.” 
 “When he gets on the field, he’s going to make plays because JD is a quintessential football player.” 

The competitive nature of Bertrand is something no coach has ever questioned as the Georgia native plays with a chip on his shoulder.

That chip perhaps got bigger after Georgia decided to part ways with Bertrand combined with essentially missing basically a year game action. 

"I definitely think so with him missing part of his high school season because they won state again and he didn’t get to play," Miller said. "I think he knew he was probably going to redshirt his freshman year, but JD is so competitive. I’m sure he’s ready to get out there and shove it down everyone’s throat.

“JD is like the dream. You could tell do anything and if he thought it would make him better, he would go do it.” 

Rick Kimball/ISD
Jack Kiser

Kiser, a classmate of Bertrand, hadn't worked out with Miller before and is getting an introduction to The Rack this week. 

Miller has only worked Kiser out twice with a third coming on Thursday, but he has seen why Notre Dame took a chance on the small school star. 

(If you forgot Kiser's high school career stats: 3,771 passing yards, 7,364 rushing yards, 198 total touchdowns and 20 interceptions)

“He’s another kid who reminds me a lot of JD Bertrand," explained Miller. "Those types of kids are few and far between. I could literally tell him anything to do and he’s going to do it. 

"Jack is very coachable and a strong kid. I’ve only seen him twice, so we haven’t done a ton of sprints or running around, but he’s a good kid. When he gets on the field, he’s going to make some plays.”

For Wallace, Miller knows there is some pressure on the former Lovett star this spring. 

Troy Pride Jr. and Donte Vaughn are gone, which means the cornerback position is wide open. 

"When he came back over Christmas break, we chatted for a bit," recalled Miller. "I asked him what it looked like depth-wise going into the spring. He said it was wide open and it was his time to start or get into the rotation. 

“He knows this is his shot." 

The chance for playing time is there and now Wallace will need to focus on mental growth to handle the ups and downs of college football as Miller believes he's ready from a physical standpoint. 

"I think KJ’s biggest detriment can be himself sometimes because he gets down on himself and he can be his own worst critic," explained Miller. "I think he’s going to have to work a little bit harder than say Kyle, but he’s going to do it. 

"None of these kids are lazy at all. Some kids take a little more pushing than others, but that doesn’t mean they’re lazy. KJ will do it and he knows it’s his time to make a move.” 

Rick Kimball/ISD
KJ Wallace

Wallace played in four games last season, but still preserved his redshirt. The year of growth is precisely what Wallace needed to let his body mature and get used to college football. 

“I think redshirting was the best thing for him," said Miller. "It put him in a full year into the program and I think he’s going to surprise a lot of people. He’s a very good football player. He has the combination of strength and power.” 

Notre Dame's roster lists Wallace at 5-foot-10, 191 pounds and Miller is confident it's plenty big enough for the sophomore to have success. 

"KJ is a big kid," Miller said. "He’s shorter than Kyle, JD and Jack, but he’s built big. He’s not a small kid by any means. He’s definitely put on some good weight while he’s been there and he hasn’t put on bad weight. On his frame, what he puts on, he needs to put on quality. He doesn’t need to lose his ability to be an athlete. 

"A lot of times, we see guys who want to put on weight and when they put on weight, they kind of lose their sport ability. He’s definitely put on good size.”

Stay tuned to for an update on Kyle Hamilton. 

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