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Notre Dame Football

Reaction: Notre Dame Heights and Weights Updated

March 7, 2017
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Notre Dame didn't officially release an updated spring roster yet, but Director of Football Media Relations Michael Berstch tweeted one out and there were some interesting developments this off season in terms of gains and losses.



(You can check out the entire now updated roster on ISD here to avoid having to zoom in)

Let's break it down by position.

Drop


We can start with sophomore linebacker Jamir Jones. Linebacker may be written in pencil, though. With his gains, a future on the edge looks like it may be in the cards.

He actually grew to 6'3 1/8" from 6'2" and is up to 243 pounds from 225. That is a significant weight gain and what I expected to see from him given his body type. He may not play with his hand in the ground and will stand up off the edge at times, but I think he is very likely going to be moved to Drop this spring or in the fall. We'll see how he moves around in the next few weeks.

As for the other players that we expect to play Drop, Daelin Hayes is up 5 to 255 from last season and we've already seen evidence of the kind of body transformation that is occurring with him. Julian Okwara is up 7 pounds to 235 and he is listed over an inch taller at 6'4" and change too.

20 pounds is a pretty significant difference between the two and we'll see how that translates on the field, especially versus the run when it comes to setting the edge this spring.

Defensive Line


It's fantastic news that Daniel Cage is fully cleared to participate in the spring, but I really want to see where he is at with his conditioning at 329 pounds. That is up 14 from his listed weight last season and it's not exactly on a long frame.

I thought he showed improvement with quick hands and quicker first step last season. Hopefully that is still the case with the weight gain.

Another guy who is supposed to compete behind him at one technique is Pete Mokwuah. He's up to 326 from 317. I think his weight was an issue before and I wonder if it is again. Or maybe he is finally putting the kind of muscle on that frame that we haven't seen before?

For some of the other players who mostly stayed the same (Jonathan Bonner, Jerry Tillery, and Brandon Tiassum) or lost a little (Jay Hayes is down 4 and Elijah Taylor is down 5), it's more about how they have reshaped their bodies. I'm hoping that is what we see from Khalid Kareem who is down to 267 from 270. He may have gained too much, too soon last year and that is what stunted his development. Now that he has been at Notre Dame a year and is used to walking around at that weight, I think we should see a difference in the way he gets off the ball.

If you're looking for the biggest transformation, I think it may be Ade Ogundeji. He was a skinny 220 pounds when Notre Dame offered him a couple of years ago. Now he is up to 251 from 240 last season. He's likely going to be even bigger by the time they get to August.

Linebacker


Nyles Morgan losing 7 pounds to get to 238 is something I expect to end up as a great move for him personally and for the program. He was almost a little too big last year and a little bit sleeker version of him should be more explosive.

On the other side of things, Jonathan Jones being up to 227 fro 220 is a step in the right direction. I don't think he should ever get bigger than the 230-235 range, but he couldn't play inside linebacker at 220 pounds. This gives him much more of a fighting chance when taking on the inside run game.

Rover


We didn't get any clarity from Brian Kelly during the press conference as to who will line up here at the start of spring. But when you consider that Drue Tranquill is now up 5 pounds to 230, playing closer to the line on a consistent basis at Rover seems more likely than strong safety. Mike Elko likes to drop that strong safety as an 8th defender in the box often, but I just can't see Tranquill improving at playing the deep half at 230 pounds.

Tranquill now weighs more than Asmar Bilal, another player I view as a potential Rover. Bilal is roughly the same as he was last season at 229. The starting Rover for Wake Forest last year weighed 225 pounds.

I don't know what that means for Spencer Perry or DJ Morgan as Rover candidates, but both gained this off season. Morgan is up 8 pounds to 208 and Perry is up to 209 from 204. I think at least one of them sticks at strong safety this spring and perhaps both.

Safety


A guy who played the position last fall was Jalen Elliott. I'm not sure if he will switch to free safety like Todd Lyght mentioned last month as a possibility, but he is up 208 from 195 last season. I'm very interested to see where he is at physically this spring. He is an impressive athlete and I hope to see it show more in his second full time year as a defensive back.

I wonder if the plan for early enrollee Isaiah Robertson has changed now that he has put on some expected weight. He is up 13 pounds to 208 since he arrived on campus. For someone his age to be this big, I'm not sure if free safety is going to in be his long term future.

One other thing that jumped out to me is that Nicco Fertitta is down to 6 pounds to 179. I'm sure he will still hit like a kid who weighs 215, but I wonder if it will make a difference with the way he runs. The knock on him has always been about his height and athleticism. It's never been about his weight because he hits far above his weight class.

Corner


Not much to report on Julian Love (same) or Troy Pride Jr. (up 3), although I wonder if Pride will make more gains in the summer without running track. Donte Vaughn is up to 9 to 209. He was a big corner and remains a big corner.

The recent success of guys like Eric Rowe, Brandon Browner, and Richard Sherman have changed the way some people feel about Vaughn's kind of size at the position. If Vaughn is used the right way, he has big time potential as a press corner. I think Elko will be well aware of that.

One other thing of note was Nick Coleman. He dropped down to 187 from 195. I don't think weight was ever his problem last season, but I do find it interesting that he may have lost a bit while maybe moving safety this spring.

Shaun Crawford is also down to 175 from 185. Is that because of his recovery from his injury or is it part of his solution for not experiencing another similar injury to lose weight? He is going to be running around this spring, but have no contact. We'll at least get to see if he moves the same way he did before he tore his Achilles.

Running Back


Not much to report with changes here for the veterans, but Tony Jones Jr. is now at 224. He was 215 last season. ISD's Matt Freeman reported that he started to look like he fit what an SEC athlete would look like this spring, which makes sense. Jones' best football is ahead of him and I think he is line for a big spring.

Deon McIntosh may be a running back or he may be a slot receiver. Either way, he is going to look like more a college football player with an additional 10 pounds. He was listed at 180 last year and frankly looked even smaller than that.

CJ Holmes is up 6 pounds to 206 and I expect he will settle in eventually around the 215-220 range over the next few years.

Wide Receiver


Not much weight gain from the wide receivers, which is interesting given that Equanimeous St. Brown was someone I expected to be a bit bigger. It would be surprising if he wasn't stronger, though. Kevin Stepherson is still 180 pounds and that is a bit concerning to me. I felt he needed to get a bit bigger than he was last season.

One question was answered this off season with Chase Claypool only up to 224 from last season's 220. All those pining for him to grow into a defensive end should be prepared for him to stick at receiver long term.

The one weight gain that jumped out is Javon McKinley now being listed at 220. He weighed 210 last season. How much of that gain has to do with the injury? I'm not sure yet. I always felt he was going to be a big target and that his game was running hard like a big receiver after the catch.

I know he will be limited this spring because of the injury, but I'm still interested to see him move out on the field. Notre Dame now has three wide receivers who are 220 or more in him, Claypool, and Boykin.

Tight End


Brock Wright already up 7 to 252 is encouraging and it's the kind of thing that could see him legitimately compete to be in the two deep. He'll be pushing Durham Smythe, who appears to have made a leap this off season under the new strength and conditioning staff. He is up 11 pounds to 256. It is the kind of thing that can make a difference with his in-line blocking, something he has struggled with previously.

Alize Jones is up 5 pounds to 245 as well. I don't think it will affect the way he runs and that's what is most important when it comes to his skill set.

Offensive Line


I'm sure this is what you've all been waiting for. I know it's a spot where I'd like to see the strength and conditioning staff make the most difference.

Robert Hainsey weighed around 270 pounds last summer. Now he is in at 292. On the flip side, Aaron Banks is down 10 pounds from the 320 he reported in at. I think both developments are very positive and while I don't expect to see either compete to play much this spring, they are setting themselves up to challenge later on in the fall or next spring.

I think the long term goal for the players who were already in the program before Matt Balis is to be able to keep weight on during the season. But for now, it's about gains and losses.

Parker Bourdreaux for one gained two inches, but lost 7 pounds. The other two players who are at center lost weight as well with Sam Mustipher down 5 to 305 and Tristen Hoge down 7 to 303. I'm most interested to see what it means for Hoge because he has had some troubles at the point of attack.

The two most intriguing weight gains on the team in my opinion are Liam Eichenberg and Hunter Bivin.

Eichenberg is up 14 pounds to 294 and that should help him quite a bit in the competition to play on the right side. He clearly needed to add weight strength to play at the college level and it appears he has done so.

Bivin is my sleeper pick to make an impact this spring. Maybe this sounds foolish for a guy who has not down much in his four years, but I always felt it was largely in part because he was never big and strong enough. I think he may be capable of making a 5th year jump like some others have to become solid players on the line.

He is up to 318 from 308 (and a lot less than 308 during the season). I'm not counting him out at right tackle. I think he has a shot to win the job this spring.

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