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Irish Insights


Fresh legs

Notre Dame fans could have to become familiar with a lot of new names this season.

Coach Brian Kelly said Saturday that he is looking at using plenty of freshmen this season.

"We are going to play between, I would say a minimum of six and as many as 10 freshmen this year," Kelly said.

Either George Atkinson or Cam McDaniel will likely be needed at running back behind starter Cierre Wood and backup Jonas Gray because of the injury to sophomore Cameron Roberson in the spring.

And Kelly has auditioned freshmen in the return game with receiver DeVaris Daniels standing out in the return game.

"I think you will see us activate DaVaris Daniels," Kelly said.

The Irish coach said he doesn't worry about using a year of eligibility on a player who is likely only to play on special teams.

"I think with the kind of schedule that we play, the teams that we play, special teams can help you win games," Kelly said. "If a freshman can come in and impact, I think we saw that last year with Daniel Smith and Bennett Jackson, Austin Collinsworth. All of them were significant players in special teams for us. If they can help us win, we will play them."

Another freshman who could play this season in defensive end Troy Niklas. But the 6-foot-6 ½, 250-pounder will likely be used at outside linebacker.

"He's a guy that can play both the Cat and the Dog," Kelly said. "His ability to play in space is extraordinary. Whatever adjective you would use, you would throw in on that kid. His nickname is Hercules. He's a pretty special kid."