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Irish Insights

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Settling in

When Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly introduced the 2011 freshmen class on Feb. 2, he did it with flexibility in mind.

On the eve of the first practice of the 2011 season, the 23 freshmen lost some extra verbiage by their names and appear locked into future positions.

Dropped from the Signing Day roster are the terms skill, big skill and power when identifying players for simply positions on the Notre Dame roster.

A number of the freshmen could step in to help the Irish right away. They get their first chance to impress with Saturday's first fall practice.

"We've got to look at all the defensive linemen," Kelly said Friday. "Obviously that's an important piece to what we believe to be the strength and the depth of our defensive line. "I think on the offensive side of the ball, you all know where some of our areas of concern are: depth at the running back position, depth at the wide receiver position. Those young kids at that position are going to have to be really evaluated closely as to whether they can help us this year."

There were some changes for players as they were slotted into positions entering the season.

George Atkins III, who was listed as skill/receiver on Signing Day, moved to running back to give another option to replace injured sophomore Cameron Roberson. Atkins will compete with Cam McDaniel for the No. 3 running back role.

Also on the move were Eilar Hardy, who went from cornerback to safety; Matthias Farley, who switched from cornerback to receiver; Brad Carrico went from defensive line to the offensive lineman in the spring; and Troy Niklas settled in at defensive end after also being listed as a tight end.

Kelly said director of football strength and conditioning Paul Longo told him the freshmen class is ready to compete from a conditioning standpoint, and more than the big names in the signing class – defensive ends Stephon Tuitt and Aaron Lynch along with linebacker Ishaq Williams – stood out during the summer.

"A guy like (former Bishop Dwenger standout) Tony Springmann really impressed," Kelly said. "A guy like Chase Hounshell really impressed. A guy like Matthias Farley really impressed. … The guys that didn't get as much hype really, really impressed."

Freshmen positions

Current position first, how listed on signing day

George Atkinson III, RB, Skill/WR

Josh Atkinson, CB, Skill/DB

Jalen Brown, CB, Skill/DB

Kyle Brindza, K/P, Specialist/K/P

Brad Carrico, OT, Power/DL

Ben Councell , OLB, Big Skill/LB

DaVaris Daniels, WR, Skill/WR

Matthias Farley, WR, Skill/DB

Everett Golson, QB, Skill/QB

Jarrett Grace, ILB, Big Skill/LB

Conor Hanratty , OG, Power/OL

Eilar Hardy, S, Skill/DB

Matt Hegarty, OT, Power/OL

Chase Hounshell, DE, Power/DL

Ben Koyack, TE, Big Skill/TE

Aaron Lynch, DE, Power/DL

Nick Martin, C/OG, Power/OL

Cam McDaniel, RB, Skill/RB

Troy Niklas, DE, Big Skill/TE/DL

Anthony Rabasa, ILB, Big Skill/LB

Tony Springmann, DE, Power/DL

Stephon Tuitt, DE, Power/DL

Ishaq Williams, OLB, Big Skill/LB

Related

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.

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