Wednesday morning marked the first day of Notre Dame's spring practice. After a tough loss in the BCS National Championship Game and the perpetually distracting Manti Te'o scandal, the Irish are eager to move forward and prove that last season was not a fluke.
Highlights from the first day of spring practice included:
The Return of Wood and Collinsworth
Cornerback Lo Wood and safety Austin Collinsworth returned to the secondary after injuries kept them off the field last season.
“I like the way Lo Wood looked. Obviously, competition at the cornerback position is always good for your team,” Irish head coach Brian Kelly told Mike Monaco of The Observer (Notre Dame and St. Mary's student-run newspaper).
In regard to Collinsworth's performance, Kelly was also pleased. “I think Collinsworth moved around very well,” he told Monaco. “He’s a smart player and it’s good to have a veteran player with a lot of smarts. He can play a number of positions for us.”
The Quarterback Situation
Kelly confirmed to Brian Hamilton of the Chicago Tribune that former 5-star quarterback recruit Gunner Kiel will transfer.
"We had kind of created an opportunity for (Kiel) to compete in the spring," Kelly said. "So maybe (I'm) a little surprised from that standpoint because he was actually told that he would be given an opportunity to compete."
Kiel's departure guarantees that sophomore Everett Golson will continue unchallenged in the starting position for at least another year.
It's Open Season for Running Backs
With both Cierre Wood and Theo Riddick moving on to the NFL draft, Kelly will have to suss out a few more running backs to fill their shoes this fall. George Atkinson III will no doubt be heavily utilized in this capacity, but it was junior Amir Carlisle—who missed last season with an ankle injury after transferring from USC—who impressed his head coach on the first day of spring practice.
“I think the guy of all the injured guys that stands out to me was Amir Carlisle,” Kelly said to Monaco. “He’s got a gear. He’s got a high level where he’s really going to be able to help us. I definitely can see us playing Amir and another back at the same time because he has the ability to play. He’s a very good pass-catcher. He’s got good ball skills. I can see us getting him the football in a number of different ways with another running back on the field.”
The Irish released a video on their official YouTube page documenting the day's activities. All in all, the mood seemed to be up-tempo as Kelly and company got down to the business of building a championship-caliber team.
*All star rankings referenced from Rivals.com.