Notre Dame Depth Chart: Brian Kelly Making Changes

Dan ScofieldAnalyst IMarch 24, 2010

Taking over a program spiraling downward is always a risky transition and one that calls for change after the old mindset wasn't translating into victory.

Brian Kelly is doing just that, starting to begin to give his newest program at major face lift in not only the departments of discipline, attitude, and work ethic, but also the personnel as well. Known around the nation as a coach who loves to utilize the athletes on his roster, Kelly's roster approach hasn't changed just because his titles have.

"We needed to get bigger, and we couldn't do it through recruiting, so we needed to do it through players on our roster," Kelly told the South Bend Tribune.

Most notably, Notre Dame fans will remember the name Demetrius Jones—the former Irish starting quarterback-turned-Cincinnati linebacker. After transferring, Kelly moved Jones to the defensive side of the ball, bulked him up, and turned him into a productive outside linebacker for his team.

Now, Kelly is looking to do the same with a few more Irish players already situated on the depth chart.

The most glaring hole on this year's team is without a doubt the safety position.

With the graduation of both Sergio Brown and Kyle McCarthy, Kelly has decided to move Harrison Smith back to safety permanently. This might be a career-saver for the once-heralded Smith, as he had struggled in juggling between safety and linebacker in his underclassmen years.

Kelly's next move was in the offensive backfield, shuffling players in order to get the best playmakers on the field at the same time. After an electrifying freshman campaign, showing flashes of brilliance on the ground, Theo Riddick will be moved to the receiver position in order to get him more touches and opportunities.

With Armando Allen looking to be the clear No. 1 heading into the spring, Kelly knew that with the graduation of Golden Tate, he would need another playmaker on the edge. Riddick's transformation will play a pivotal role in easing Dayne Crist into the college game.

Two lesser-talked about changes have taken place as well. Former offensive tackle Lane Clelland will be making the switch to defensive end, and Steve Paskorz, who was beat out at fullback last season, is making the transition back to his original position at outside linebacker.

Both of these moves have been made in order to bring some bigger-bodied athletes to a defense that struggled mightily in 2009. Thanks to an improved offseason regimen, including "Camp Kelly," there is no reason why the Bob Diaco-led defense cannot take a big leap forward this year.

Just by the signs of things, particularly the feedback by the players and the newest released roster, Kelly has his mind in the right place.