Notre Dame Football: Arturo Martinez

Notre Dame mailblog

August, 9, 2013
8/09/13
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What's on your minds?

John from Chicago writes: Matt, can you point me in direction where I can find a roster breakdown of scholarship vs. walk-on's? Just curious mostly.

Matt Fortuna: John, the roster we received last Friday listed the following players as walk-ons: Receiver Josh Anderson, punter Andrew Antognoli, cornerback Jesse Bongiovi, offensive lineman Kevin Carr, cornerback Connor Cavalaris, kicker John Chereson, defensive lineman Marquis Dickerson, quarterback Charlie Fiessinger, receiver Nick Fitzpatrick, receiver Omar Hunter, offensive lineman Scott Kingsley, linebacker Austin Larkin, receiver Eric Lee, outside linebacker Connor Little, defensive lineman Arturo Martinez, receiver Gerald Martinez, safety Eamon McOsker, kicker Danny Omiliak, running back Tyler Plantz, safety Drew Recker, kicker/punter Jude Rhodes, cornerback Joe Romano, long-snapper Hunter Smith, safety Ernie Soto and punter Alex Wulfeck.


Michael from Irsee, Bayern, Germany, writes: Hi Matt,By now, you are used to fielding crazy Notre Dame hypothetical questions (mostly about the offense) so I thought that I would throw this defensive one your way. Combining what you saw from Aaron Lynch in his first year with Notre Dame's defense last year (in Lynch's absence) and the endless speculation about how good he could have been/will be this year on USF - do you care to speculate as to what Notre Dame's starting defense would have looked like in 2013 if Lynch had never departed?

Matt Fortuna: Michael, it is easy to picture a starting defensive line of Lynch, Louis Nix and Stephon Tuitt -- three guys widely projected as first-round picks next spring -- and, on paper at least, think "Wow." But you have to remember that the Irish wouldn't have done better than 12-1 last year with Lynch, and they benefited from strong play (and even stronger leadership) from Kapron Lewis-Moore. Reports from Tampa, Fla., indicate that Lynch has matured and should have a strong year against American Athletic Conference competition, but let's remember that Sheldon Day isn't too shabby, either, and that the Irish still probably boast the top first-team defensive line in the nation.


Kenneth Moore from Bluefield, W. Va., writes: Matt, I know that CBK is on record about the starters playing more in special teams. Is there anything that you have seen or heard that this unit is improving. The return game has been a complete joke considering the prospects that Notre Dame gets every year. It has to be fixed because teams force the Irish to march down the field to score. If this can be fixed I think there will be a jump in points scored in 2013. Thanks.

Matt Fortuna: Kenneth, there is no question Notre Dame needs to improve its punt return game. More than anything, the Irish need a unit capable of forming solid return after solid return, rather than a big gain here and there with nothing to show for it in between. This is where I think the team's logjam at running back could help, as a number of these guys can do different things well and are capable of finding their ways on the field in separate ways. On Friday, T.J. Jones, Amir Carlisle, Greg Bryant and Tarean Folston were fielding punts.

Roster breakdown: Offense

March, 28, 2012
3/28/12
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With Notre Dame a week into spring practice, the fifth-year players officially returning and the 2012 recruiting class finalized (we think), let's break down the Irish's complete roster, position-by-position, as it gears up for Year 3 under Brian Kelly.

We'll start with the offense today and delve into the defense tomorrow, with special teams coming Friday.

QUARTERBACK

The players: Tommy Rees, Andrew Hendrix, Everett Golson, Gunner Kiel

The incoming: None

The breakdown: Experience is the only real way to rank these guys, as Rees has 16 starts, Hendrix has played in five games, Golson has sat a year learning the offense and Kiel arrived on campus just two months ago. Nonetheless, that likely won't matter as Kelly goes to a square-one approach, opening the playbook from the beginning to allow for a fair chance for everyone. The decision -- which will likely be up in the air deep into the summer -- may prove to be Kelly's biggest so far with the Irish.

RUNNING BACK

[+] EnlargeCierre Wood
Rick Osentoski/US PresswireCierre Wood is still the clear favorite in Notre Dame's backfield, but the Irish have other running backs ready to vie for playing time.
The players: Cierre Wood, Theo Riddick, George Atkinson, Amir Carlisle, Cam Roberson, Tyler Plantz

The Incoming: Will Mahone, KeiVarae Russell

The breakdown: Wood is the clear No. 1, as he was heading into last season as well. Riddick broke off a pair of huge runs toward the end of Saturday's scrimmage, and Kelly wanted both him and Atkinson to see more time back there as Wood rested with a minor quad injury. (Kelly said Wood did go in the rodeo drill earlier.) Both Riddick and Atkinson are capable of playing in the slot, and may end up seeing more time catching balls this season than taking handoffs, though Tony Alford will coach both regardless.

Carlisle, the USC transfer, is eligible to play in 2012 but out for the spring with a broken ankle. Where he fits in will be interesting, as carries may be hard to come by if Atkinson really progresses this spring in the backfield. The 5-foot-10, 185-pound Carlisle was featured on kickoffs last season with the Trojans, and there, or on the punt return team, may prove to be the fastest way on the field for him.

WIDE RECEIVER

The players: John Goodman, T.J. Jones, Robby Toma, DaVaris Daniels, Daniel Smith, Luke Massa, Eric Lee, Nick Fitzpatrick, Ryan Liebscher

The incoming: Justin Ferguson, Davonte Neal

The breakdown: Goodman has talked about making the most of this last chance, and the coaching staff would not have invited him back for a fifth year had it not believed in him. Whether he can be a top target is up in the air, but he should bring some stability and leadership to a group loaded with youth. Jones has been solid through two years and Kelly has said he is on the cusp of breaking out. Toma has done everything asked of him and then some in the slot when replacing the oft-injured Riddick, and he may have the position to himself this year.

Daniels has the complete package physically, but he has yet to take a snap after redshirting last season. He was seen running with the 2s to start spring, but that could easily change with a strong showing. Smith, too, ran with 2s to open spring, but he must stay healthy first. Ferguson has the tools to compete for playing time upon arrival, but that could likely depend on how the incumbents step up in front of him. Neal is pegged as an athlete, but Kelly said there are no plans right now to play him at corner upon his arrival. He could possibly be a playmaker at receiver or on special teams.

TIGHT END

The players: Tyler Eifert, Troy Niklas, Alex Welch, Ben Koyack, Jake Golic, Arturo Martinez

The incoming: None

The breakdown: We all know what Eifert can do, which is why he almost entered the draft this year. Niklas is the big question mark. And by big, we mean it literally. A switch from linebacker -- where he started one game last fall as a freshman -- to tight end for the 6-7, 252-pounder has many excited to see what the offense can do with a potential two tight end set. Everyone saw what the New England Patriots did last year with Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez.

It would be foolish to expect that much so soon -- both without Tom Brady as the Irish's quarterback and without Niklas having played the position since high school. How quick Niklas can master the playbook and blocking could go a long way in seeing some of these sets come to fruition. The move does leave some to wonder what this means for Welch and Koyack, but the duo is young and, according to tight ends coach Scott Booker, up for the challenge.

OFFENSIVE LINE

The players: Zack Martin, Chris Watt, Braxston Cave, Mike Golic, Tate Nichols, Christian Lombard, Bruce Heggie, Jordan Prestwood, Matt Hegarty, Conor Hanratty, Nick Martin, Brad Carrico, Matt Tansey, Dennis Mahoney

The incoming: Mark Harrell, Ronnie Stanley

The breakdown: Cave will not be playing much, if at all, this spring as he recovers after injuring his foot last season. Golic, who started in his place, is the center with Cave out, but it would not be surprising to see Golic move to right guard upon Cave's return. Right now Lombard is manning the right guard spot, with Nichols at right tackle. How the second unit gets shuffled upon Cave's return to the starting unit remains to be seen, but to open spring, it consisted of Heggie, Prestwood, Hegarty, Hanratty and Martin.

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