ND's spring breakout players

May, 21, 2012
5/21/12
2:07
PM CT
Who made names for themselves this spring? Glad you asked.

RB/WR Theo Riddick: Riddick seemed more comfortable this spring, as the learning curve from playing two different positions is all but gone and he is ready to make plays. The senior stood out during several intrasquad scrimmages. If Riddick can be an effective punt returner this fall, he can be the complete package for the Irish.

WR John Goodman: It's not often you see a fifth-year senior on lists like these, but Goodman, as coach Brian Kelly said, was the Irish's go-to guy this spring, and he served as an offensive captain in the Blue-Gold game as a result of being the unit's most improved player. No longer in the shadow of Michael Floyd and with one last chance to succeed after being invited back for another year, Goodman is primed for a breakout season this fall.

NG Kona Schwenke: Like Goodman, Schwenke was a captain in the Blue-Gold game, winning most improved defensive player honors while temporarily supplanting Louis Nix from the starting spot in the middle. He added some weight and improved his handwork, and he figures to see plenty of snaps next season, regardless of whether or not he starts.

LB Ishaq Williams: Kelly revealed that Williams went home to Brooklyn, N.Y., for a few days in the winter to think about his future. He has apparently come back with a new focus, as the rising sophomore had a strong spring, filling in for the injured Prince Shembo at the cat position and coming up with a pick and a fumble recovery in the spring game.

LB Jarrett Grace: Playing time may be hard to come by -- he is, after all, backing up a likely first-round draft pick in Manti Te'o -- but Grace has made the most of his opportunities. Defensive coordinator Bob Diaco loved him this spring, and, after redshirting his freshman season, Grace figures to spell Te'o every now and then this fall while also seeing duties on special teams.

Matt Fortuna | email

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