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Notre Dame Football

New Faces Impressing Notre Dame Football Coach Brian Kelly

August 13, 2020

Brian Kelly has typically been slow to give his freshmen players credit, as we saw with Kyle Hamilton a year ago. 

"I couldn't tell you if he had a cramp or whether he took any reps," Kelly said, following Hamilton's three interceptions on the first day of fall camp in 2019. "Did he take any reps? Did he have three picks? Well, that's a good first day. I'd write him up as having a good first day. I really didn't see him because he probably played with the younger guys when he was in there, but that's a good first day. Good for him."
Don't let his comments fool you. Kelly saw the Georgia native's performance. 

On Thursday, Kelly didn't offer up a Heisman prediction, but he spoke glowingly about three freshmen that will see the field in 2020. 

Tight end Michael Mayer arrived with a five-star ranking and Kelly has been pleased with what the Kentucky native has shown over the last six weeks. 

"Mayer is a guy who has an innate ability, size, quickness, escapability as he releases from the line of scrimmage," Kelly said. "He's a pretty impressive young man in Everything he's done."

Mayer wasn't the only tight end to impress the head man as classmate Kevin Bauman got positive remarks. 

"Here's a guy that if he's not coming in at the same time as Mayer, everybody is probably talking about him," said Kelly. "He's a really good tight end. He's a guy I don't think we can hold off the field either. Very, very impressed with him early on." 

Running back Chris Tyree (pictured) is a kid who arrived with hype and lofty expectations as he might be the fastest player Kelly has signed during his tenure. 

Kelly also made sure to point out Tyree was much more than a guy with speed. 

"He's a lot stronger than we thought in terms of overall lower body strength," explained Kelly. "He's not a specialist. He's not a guy that just plays in the slot or handoff sweeps. He's a guy that can run the football downhill between the tackles. 

"He's not going to get 30 carries, don't get me wrong, but he's a guy who is going to play as a freshman. He's been impressive." 

Freshman offensive lineman Michael Carmody and the cornerbacks also got praise from Kelly. 

"I would say, offensive linemen, it's a process for those guys," Kelly stated. "Early glimpses, Carmody has some really nice traits that I think are going to translate very well for us.

"The corners look really good. They have length. They're all young, but they all are going to be guys who are going to compete for us. Whether they play as freshmen or not is certainly not needed. We've been impressed with the corners in terms of length and athletic ability." 

Notre Dame also a few graduate transfers in the offseason. Receiver Ben Skowronek and safety Isaiah Pryor aren't new as they have been in South Bend since January, but Kelly has been more than impressed with both players. 

"When you take fifth-years and a transfer coming in with one year, obviously you need to be right," explained Kelly. "It seems, by all indications, we got a great glimpse of Ben Skowronek with him being here early. Same with Isaiah Pryor. Both of them were the leading point recipients this summer in their position groups. Pryor had over 1,000 points as a DB and then among the tight ends and receivers, Skowronek just edged out Kevin Austin with over 1,200 points."

The other new face to the program is cornerback Nick McCloud. The South Carolina native transferred from NC State for his final year and he's had to catch up in six weeks. 

"This was a step up for him and a step up in training," said Kelly. "He really took hold of it and made great strides throughout the six weeks he was here to the point where he finished our six weeks in the 650 range. Just to give you an indication, 750 was the Hamilton's and Crawford's. He did really well in making up for some lost time. 

"He's long and athletic. We're really pleased with those three guys and their presence in our program." 

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