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Irish Insights


Irish freshman gets nod as backup QB

Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly went with potential over pedigree in naming the backup to starting quarterback Dayne Crist.

Freshman Tommy Rees, who enrolled at Notre Dame in January and participated in spring practice, edged junior Nate Montana, the son of former Irish and NFL great Joe Montana, for the No. 2 quarterback spot in the depth chart released Monday.

Rees' jump over Montana is not a small issue as Kelly used seven quarterbacks in his last two seasons at Cincinnati, and Crist is returning from a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.

"He's really savvy. He's a smart kid," Kelly said of Rees two weeks ago. "He has those intangibles of a quarterback relative to seeing things before they open up and can anticipate very well. … He's got a great head for the game."

Two former Bishop Dwenger standouts will also start the season in a backup roll for the Irish.

Tight end Tyler Eifert leapfrogged last season's backup Mike Ragone, a senior who dealt with a heat-related illness during camp, and senior Bobby Burger, the backup on Notre Dame's first fall depth chart, for the No. 2 slot behind starter Kyle Rudolph.

Receiver John Goodman moved to a backup role behind Michael Floyd. Goodman, who will also return punts with running back Armando Allen, was originally backing up Duval Kamara in one of the outside receiver spots.

Kamara will also be a backup, as freshman TJ Jones beat out the senior for the outside spot opposite Floyd.

On the offensive line, junior Braxston Cave got the starting nod over senior Dan Wenger.

On defense, senior Kerry Neal – a defensive end last season – held onto the dropback outside linebacker spot over Brian Smith, and sophomore Carlo Calabrese will start at one of the inside linebacker spots along side sophomore Manti Te'o.

Two more freshmen earned backup spots at linebacker with Danny Spond listed behind Te'o, and Prince Shembo backing up junior outside linebacker Darius Fleming.

On special teams, sophomore Nick Tauch held onto the place kicking duties he had last season. Tauch beat out David Ruffer, who will handle kickoffs.

Below is the depth chart released Monday:



TJ Jones, 5-11, 18,7 Fr.

Duval Kamara, 6-4, 225, Sr.


Theo Riddick, 5-11, 198, So.

Robby Toma, 5-9, 175, So.


Zack Martin, 6-4, 290, So.

Matt Romine, 6-5, 292, Sr.


Chris Stewart, 6-5, 351, Sr.

Chris Watt, 6-3, 310, So.


Braxston Cave, 6-3, 301, Jr.

Dan Wenger, 6-4, 298, Sr.


Trevor Robinson, 6-5, 295, Jr.

Mike Golic Jr., 6-3, 290, Jr.


Taylor Dever, 6-5, 297, Sr.

Andrew Nuss, 6-5, 297, Sr.


Kyle Rudolph, 6-6, 265, Jr.

Tyler Eifert, 6-6 242, So.


Michael Floyd, 6-3, 227, Jr.

John Goodman, 6-3, 207, Jr.


Dayne Crist, 6-4, 235, Jr.

Tommy Rees, 6-2, 210, Fr.


Armando Allen, 5-10, 205, Sr.

Cierre Wood, 6-0, 210, So.



Ethan Johnson, 6-4, 285, Jr.

Hafis Williams, 6-1, 285, Jr.


Ian Williams, 6-2, 305, Sr.

Sean Cwynar, 6-4, 280, Jr.


Kapron Lewis-Moore, 6-4, 283, Jr.

Emeka Nwankwo, 6-4, 290, Sr.


Darius Fleming, 6-2, 247, Jr.

Prince Shembo, 6-2, 243, Fr.


Carlo Calabrese, 6-1, 240, So.

Anthony McDonald, 6-2 238, Jr.


Manti Te'o, 6-2, 245, So.

Danny Spond, 6-2, 225, Fr.


Kerry Neal, 6-2, 245, Sr.

Brian Smith, 6-3, 243, Sr.


Darrin Walls, 6-0, 190, Sr.

Lo Wood, 5-10, 178, Fr.


Harrison Smith, 6-2, 214, Sr.

Dan McCarthy, 6-2, 205 Jr.


Jamoris Slaughter, 6-0, 195, Jr.

Zeke Motta, 6-2, 210, So.


Gary Gray, 5-11, 190, Sr.

Robert Blanton, 6-1, 192, Jr.

Special Teams


Nick Tausch, 6-0, 190 So.

David Ruffer, 6-1, 176, Sr.


Ben Turk, 5-11, 196, So.

Brandon Walker, 6-3, 210, Sr.


Jordan Cowart, 6-2, 215, So.

Ryan Kavanagh, 6-3, 200, Jr.


Bill Flavin, 6-3, 260, Sr.


Ben Turk, 5-11, 196, So.

Ryan Kavanagh, 6-3, 200, Jr.


Armando Allen, 5-10, 205, Sr.

John Goodman, 6-3, 207, Jr.


Cierre Wood, 6-0, 210, So.

Theo Riddick, 5-11, 198, So

Armando Allen, 5-10, 205, Sr.

The Journal Gazette's Assistant Sports Editor Tony Krausz covers The University of Notre Dame. Krausz, a graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism and a native of St. Louis, has been assistant sports editor since October 2005. Prior to joining the JG, he worked at two papers in Mississippi covering high school and college athletics.