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Irish Insights


Freshmen stepping up

Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said one of the Irish's strength this season is the team's depth.

And the freshmen are adding even more talent for the coaches to choose from.

Kelly said freshman receiver TJ Jones is battling for a starting spot with senior Duval Kamara and sophomore Shaquelle Evans, and freshman quarterback Tommy Rees is pushing junior Nate Montana for the backup quarterback spot.

Kelly also said receiver Austin Collinsworth will be expected to be able to contribute this season, though that's more on special teams, and the coach is looking at tight end Alex Welch and offensive linemen Tate Nichols and Christian Lombard to be ready to play.

"There are six guys on offense that are freshmen, that's the most I've ever had in 20 years of coaching, that will be eating breakfast with the team when we are ready to play (on the road)," Kelly said.

Nichols and Lombard had big opportunities last week to show they can play when offensive linemen Dan Wenger and Matt Romine missed time with concussion symptoms.

"The freshmen got right in there," Kelly said. "Lombard and Tate, you better get to know their names. They are really good football players. They are true freshmen, and they are learning every day.

"We are going to play the best guys. If they end up being two of the best guys and there are two freshmen out there, that's they way it goes."

Cornerback Lo Wood is being counted on to contribute as a freshman, and linebackers Prince Shembo and Danny Spond have shown the ability to play.

"Lo Wood is in our two-deep (at cornerback)," Kelly said. "Prince Shembo is right there and will most likely be someone who is prepared to play. And Danny Spond has been really dynamic. I don't know if we have as many guys who play with their hands and can really shock you. He's going to be on all of our special teams as well."