Notre Dame Football: Jamoris Slaughter

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June, 13, 2014
Jun 13
12:00
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My favorite day of the year.
Notre Dame walked away from NFL draft weekend with eight of its former players getting picked, tied with Alabama for the second most of any school in the country, behind LSU's nine. The eight picks also marked the most in a single draft for the Irish in 20 years, as they had 10 draftees in 1994.

In addition, six former Notre Dame players signed with NFL clubs after the draft, with five of those players coming from last season's team.

Seven of Notre Dame's defensive starters from the Discover BCS National Championship following the 2012 season have now been drafted as well: Kapron Lewis-Moore (Ravens, 200th), Manti Te'o (Chargers, 38th) and Zeke Motta (Falcons, 244th) last year; Stephon Tuitt (Steelers, 46th), Louis Nix (Texans, 83rd), Prince Shembo (Falcons, 139th) and Bennett Jackson (Giants, 187th) this year.

It's not a stretch to say that linebacker Danny Spond, who also started against Alabama in the title game, was on track to be drafted prior to retiring before last season because of hemiplegic migraines. It's also worth noting that safety Jamoris Slaughter, who was drafted 175th overall by the Browns last year, started on the Irish's 2012 defense before suffering a season-ending Achilles' tear in Week 3. Two defensive starters from that title game, KeiVarae Russell and Matthias Farley, still have two years of eligibility left at Notre Dame.

Here's a recap of Notre Dame's 2014 draft weekend. Irish transfers Shaquelle Evans (fourth round, 114th overall) and Aaron Lynch (fifth, 150th) were both drafted as well.

DRAFTED

LT Zack Martin, Dallas Cowboys (first round, 16th overall)

DE Stephon Tuitt, Pittsburgh Steelers (second, 46th)

TE Troy Niklas, Arizona Cardinals (second, 52nd)

NG Louis Nix, Houston Texans (third, 83rd)

LG Chris Watt, San Diego Chargers (third, 89th)

LB Prince Shembo, Atlanta Falcons (fourth, 139th)

CB Bennett Jackson, New York Giants (sixth, 187th)

WR TJ Jones, Detroit Lions (sixth, 189th)

UNDRAFTED FREE AGENT SIGNINGS

RB George Atkinson III, Oakland Raiders

LB Dan Fox, New York Giants

LB Carlo Calabrese, Cleveland Browns

QB Tommy Rees, Washington Redskins

NG Kona Schwenke, Kansas City Chiefs

C/G Mike Golic Jr., New Orleans Saints
SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Notre Dame has suffered a season-ending injury in its secondary for the second straight fall camp, as sophomore safety Nicky Baratti dislocated his shoulder Saturday and will need surgery, coach Brian Kelly announced on Monday.

Baratti, who missed the spring after surgery on the same shoulder, was seen working with the second-team defense during the Fighting Irish's most recent open practice.

Baratti, a Tomball, Texas native, appeared in all 13 games last season as a freshman, notching eight total tackles and an interception, which came in the end zone during a 13-6 win over Michigan in Week 4.

Notre Dame had lost potential starting cornerback Lo Wood during last year's preseason camp to a season-ending Achilles injury, and it then lost starting safety Jamoris Slaughter to the same injury in a Week 3 win at Michigan State, further depleting what was an already-thin secondary.

The defensive backs are much more apt to handle a blow this time around, as the group brings back safety Austin Collinsworth — who also missed last season, following shoulder and back surgeries — and welcomes in four-star safety Max Redfield. Kelly praised junior Eilar Hardy and redshirt freshman John Turner as well.
Lucky No. 13 is another converted offensive starter.

No. 13: Matthias Farley S

Previous ranking: No. 21

Making the case: Like KeiVarae Russell, Farley was an offensive player (wide receiver) who made the conversion into starter in the secondary for Notre Dame in 2012. After redshirting his freshman year and then switching positions, Farley moved into the starting role after a Week 3 Achilles tear sidelined Jamoris Slaughter for the season. Farley answered the bell, delivering hard hit after hard hit, coming up with an interception in the Stanford contest and never missing a game despite breaking his right thumb in the Oct. 27 win at Oklahoma, playing with two plates and four pins inserted afterward. He finished with 49 total tackles on the season, including two for a loss, to go with one pass break-up. Now the redshirt sophomore looks to take the next step, as he and Bennett Jackson are the veteran voices of a deep secondary that has a surplus of safeties.

The countdown

No. 14 KeiVarae Russell

No. 15 Christian Lombard

No. 16 Sheldon Day

No. 17 Carlo Calabrese

No. 18 Jarrett Grace

No. 19 Amir Carlisle

No. 20 Troy Niklas

No. 21 Elijah Shumate

No. 22 C.J. Prosise

No. 23 Ishaq Williams

No. 24 Kyle Brindza

No. 25 Greg Bryant
2012 record: 12-1

2012 conference record: N/A

Returning starters: Offense: 6; defense: 8; kicker/punter: 1

Top returners

QB Everett Golson, WR TJ Jones, WR DaVaris Daniels, LT Zack Martin, LG Chris Watt, RT Christian Lombard, DE Stephon Tuitt, NG Louis Nix, LB Dan Fox, LB Carlo Calabrese, LB Danny Spond, LB Prince Shembo, CB Bennett Jackson, CB KeiVarae Russell, S Matthias Farley

Key losses

RB Theo Riddick, RB Cierre Wood, WR Robby Toma, TE Tyler Eifert, C Braxston Cave, RG Mike Golic Jr., DE Kapron Lewis-Moore, LB Manti Te'o, S Zeke Motta

2012 statistical leaders (*returners)

Rushing: Riddick (917 yards, 5 TDs)

Passing: Golson* (187-of-318 for 2,405 yards, 12 TDs, 6 INTs)

Receiving: Eifert (685 yards, 4 TDs)

Tackles: Te'o (113)

Sacks: Tuitt* (12)

Interceptions: Te'o (7)

Spring answers

1. Golson in charge of offense. Now in his second year as the starting quarterback, Golson is in charge of what Brian Kelly hopes will become a quarterback-driven offense. Golson has been much more vocal on and off the field since the 2012 season, and the hope is that he can help the offense dictate the pace of the game week to week this fall.

2. Jarrett Grace ready to step up. Te'o leaves a giant hole in the middle of the Irish defense after three-straight 100-plus tackle seasons, but Grace looks ready to step in and assume the starting role. Will he notch seven interceptions this season, like Te'o in 2012? Unlikely. But the staff has liked his progress from the get-go, and he has not been fazed by all of the hoopla surrounding the "Mike" position since Te'o's departure.

3. DB depth. Last season, the Irish entered the fall with two new starting cornerbacks. By Week 3, they were down Lo Wood and safety Jamoris Slaughter because of Achilles injuries. This year Wood is back, as is safety Austin Collinsworth, adding plenty of depth to a secondary that returns three starters. It will give the defense much more flexibility after the unit broke in three new starters in 2012. Several talented safety recruits are on the way, too.

Fall questions

1. Backfield answers. George Atkinson III is the most experienced of the backs, bulking up this offseason and readying for the closest thing to a No. 1 role that the Irish offense allows. Cam McDaniel has been reliable in limited action, and USC transfer Amir Carlisle impressed the staff before going down with another injury, this time a broken collarbone that kept him out for most of the spring. There is Will Mahone and a pair of four-star recruits on the way as well, but the bottom line is that none have handled a majority of the carries at the college level yet and are filling big shoes from last season in Riddick and Cierre Wood.

2. Receiver depth. Davonte Neal and Justin Ferguson transferred this spring, leaving the Irish with a bit of a numbers issue. C.J. Prosise has converted to a full-time receiver and could compete for the starting slot role for 2013, but a group already down four of its top six pass-catchers from 2012 can ill-afford another injury or defection, and will likely need some early production from a talented group of freshmen.

3. Defensive leaders. This isn't necessarily an issue so much as an unknown. Last year's three seniors were tremendous vocal presences, helping the defense become greater than the sum of its parts in finishing second nationally in scoring. This year's unit could be deeper and more talented, and if it can work together like last year's, it could see similar success in 2013. Jackson, Farley and Nix figure to emerge as front-runners for defensive captain spots this fall.
Nothing has come easy for Chris Salvi. The former Notre Dame safety and special teams ace was a walk-on transfer from Butler during his Irish career, earning a scholarship for his senior year.

Now, nearly two weeks after the NFL draft, Salvi is playing himself into a chance to take his talents to the next level.

Salvi has been invited to Chicago Bears' rookie mini-camp, according to the Twitter feeds of him and his brother. (Will Salvi was also a Notre Dame walk-on this past season). Chris Salvi is now the 15th former Irish player to receive an NFL invite of some kind since the start of the April 25 draft.

It is surely a thrill for the Lake Forest, Ill., native, who just this past season was talking about how much the Irish's Shamrock Series game against Miami at Soldier Field meant to him.

Here's a recap who he'll be joining from South Bend, Ind., in their chase to play on Sundays:

To recap:
Punter Ben Turk has been invited to the Houston Texans' rookie minicamp, Notre Dame announced, making him the 14th former Irish player to get a shot at an NFL following last week's draft.




The 5-foot-11, 186-pound Turk played in 45 games during his Notre Dame career, including all 39 in the past three seasons, averaging 39.1 yards per punt on 200 career boots. The Davie, Fla., native had a career-best 40.8 yards-per-punt average in 2012, and his nine punts of 50 or more yards were a career-best as well.

Turk is the eighth former Notre Dame player to hook up with an NFL team after not being selected in the draft, and there is a chance that he could re-unite with former college teammate Cierre Wood.

To recap:
The NFL does not wait for everyone, and so what was an otherwise 10 a.m. ET call out of Baltimore turned into an early-morning wake-up for the latest former Notre Dame player to take his talents to the next level.

Toma will join fellow Irish player Kapron Lewis-Moore with the Ravens. The often-overlooked 5-foot-9, 185-pound receiver is now the 13th former Irish player who will get a shot at the NFL in one form or another.

The official Notre Dame football page has a nice graphic of most of the players here.

To recap:

Irish lunch links

April, 29, 2013
4/29/13
12:00
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Finish 'em, NYK.
The long wait for Manti Te'o officially concluded around 7 p.m. Friday, with former San Diego Chargers cornerback Jim Hill announcing that the Chargers had taken the former Notre Dame linebacker with the 38th overall pick.

"It’s great motivation for me to go out there and just get better, and that’s what I intend to do," Te'o told Chargers.com of falling out of the first round.

But Te'o was hardly the only surprise among former Irish players this past weekend.

For one, Cierre Wood, who passed up a potential fifth year of college ball to jump to the NFL, went undrafted. The running back was one of six former Irish players to post on Twitter that he signed or received an invite from an NFL team, as the Oxnard, Calif., native said he was picked up by the Houston Texans.

Mike Golic Jr. said he is heading to Pittsburgh, Braxston Cave to Cleveland, Dayne Crist to Kansas City, John Goodman to Cincinnati and Jordan Cowart to Washington.

Goodman will be joining fellow Fort Wayne, Ind., native and college teammate Tyler Eifert with the Bengals.

As for the rest of the Notre Dame contingent, Jamoris Slaughter was the first Irish player to get drafted Saturday, going in the sixth round (175th overall) to the Browns. Theo Riddick and Kapron Lewis-Moore were the next former Irish players off the board, going back to back to Detroit and Baltimore at Nos. 199 and 200, respectively.

Zeke Motta was the final player of the group to get drafted, going 224th overall to Atlanta in the seventh round, giving Notre Dame six draftees overall.
The day is finally here. All the build-up, all the hype -- finally, we get to see which college stars land where.

And for the second straight year, it is likely that multiple Notre Dame players will hear their names called at Radio City on Night 1.

Tyler Eifert and Manti Te'o are both widely expected to be first-round picks. Michael Floyd and Harrison Smith were last season.

The last time the Irish had multiple first-round picks before 2012? That would be 1994, when Bryant Young, Aaron Taylor and Jeff Burris all went in the first round.

The last time Notre Dame had multiple first-round picks in consecutive years? That, also, would include the 1994 NFL draft, which followed a 1993 event that saw four players from South Bend, Ind., get selected in the first round: Rick Mirer, Jerome Bettis, Irv Smith and Tom Carter.

The only other times that has happened with Notre Dame players, according to the school, are 1944-45-46 and 1954-55.

So just where will Eifert and Te'o end up? That depends on who you ask.

Mel Kiper Jr. has the tight end going to the Pittsburgh Steelers at No. 17, which is 11 spots lower than Todd McShay's forecast, which has the Cleveland Browns jumping on Eifert at No. 6.

Kiper is higher on Te'o, who he has going to the Chicago Bears at No. 20. McShay sees Te'o joining a bunch of old college buddies with the Minnesota Vikings at No. 25.

Our NFL bloggers had a mock first round of their own this week, with Eifert ending up in Pittsburgh at No. 17 and Te'o closing out the night by going to the Baltimore Ravens at No. 32.

Scouts Inc.'s Steve Muench and Kevin Weidl, meanwhile, went the distance, projecting all seven rounds and 254 picks, right down to Mr. Irrelevant (FIU end/linebacker Tourek Williams, for those wondering).

Muench and Weidl don't see the rest of the Irish contingent getting in on the fun until the sixth round. There, the duo projects Zeke Motta to land at No. 178 with the New York Jets.

The seventh round then becomes Notre Dame-heavy, with Theo Riddick slotted for the Denver Broncos at No. 234, Jamoris Slaughter to the Ravens at No. 238, Cierre Wood to the Atlanta Falcons at No. 243 and Kapron Lewis-Moore to the Ravens at No. 247.

I'm a little surprised to see Braxston Cave's name absent form the seven-round mock, and I wonder if any NFL team takes a chance on former Irish and Kansas quarterback Dayne Crist after all of his injury problems in college.

Irish lunch links

April, 10, 2013
4/10/13
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Knickerbockers' first division title in 19 years. Amazing, in a way.
SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Austin Collinsworth was careful not to say that he was completely, fully healed from shoulder and back surgeries in the past year, but returning to the field this spring has served as a final hurdle to cross after missing last season.

"I would say probably 98 percent, something like that," the rising fourth-year junior said. "But I'll be 100 percent by the end of the spring."

The safety underwent surgery following last year's spring season to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder, an injury that figured to sideline him for the 2012 campaign. That year-long wait became official when back pain that flared up in October eventually resulted in another operation, leaving him to watch the entirety of Notre Dame's run to the Discover BCS National Championship from the sideline.

"It's hard," said Collinsworth, the son of former NFL player and current analyst Cris Collinsworth. "It was a really exciting season. It was pretty terrible not being a part of it, but I liked watching my friends do well out on the field and it was a really fun season just to be a part of."

Collinsworth said that he began feeling great physically three weeks ago, and he impressed the staff in the weeks leading up to the start of spring practices.

"We had seven workouts where the coaches were involved in the conditioning elements," coach Brian Kelly said at the start of spring. "Our defensive staff feels really good. I had a chance to observe him because I wanted to see the guys that are coming back. I was really pleased with what I saw."

Collinsworth has been seen working with the second-team defense this spring upon his return, alongside Eilar Hardy. (Rising sophomore Nick Baratti has been sidelined following his own shoulder surgery.) After recording 25 tackles and forcing one fumble while playing in all 26 games throughout his first two seasons with the Irish, Collinsworth is hoping to crack the rotation of a secondary that finally finds itself with a good numbers problem, this after the unit suffered three season-ending injuries by Week 3 of last season.

The departure of Davonte' Neal has led to more opportunities for Collinsworth to field punts, too, something the Fort Thomas, Ky., native did for three years in high school.

"We lost some really good guys," Collinsworth said of the secondary. "Jamoris [Slaughter] last year only got to play a couple games when he was back at safety. And Zeke [Motta] -- that kid's an animal back there. But we've got a lot of good players that are returning, and I don't think our defensive backfield is going to take a step back at all."
SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Shortly after the tear, Jamoris Slaughter would stress himself out, overlooking the simple day-to-day goals of rehab and wondering why he had to rupture the Achilles tendon in his left foot during his senior season.

One month before the NFL draft, Kapron Lewis-Moore is more familiar with that struggle than he wishes to be, taking his frustrations to Twitter at one point after his January surgery to repair the anterior cruciate ligament he tore in his right knee during the Discover BCS National Championship.

"That was kind of after the surgery; there's nothing you can really do," Lewis-Moore said. "One time I just had a bad day. … But now it's just keeping mentally strong, and I can only get my film out there, and hopefully some of these scouts like what they see on film."

The two former fifth-year Notre Dame defensive players did not envision their college careers coming to a close the way they did, Slaughter's on the first play of the second half of a Sept. 15 victory at Michigan State and Lewis-Moore's in the second quarter of the Jan. 7 loss to Alabama.

Neither player participated in any drills during Tuesday's pro day, and both are hoping for the best as they await to hear about their professional futures.

"Me and Kap, we've had conversations because we're kind of in the same boat," Slaughter said. "You've got to just take it one day at a time. You can't push it too fast because the injury's going to heal on its time, so you've got to play your role and do all the things necessary to get back."

Slaughter estimated he is about 85 percent, and he hopes to be at or near full strength in the next month or so. He said he just started doing some small one-legged jumps, which has been his biggest obstacle on the road to recovery.

"I actually just talked to the Falcons; they have a workout that they do for most of the guys in a certain area of Atlanta and I think I should be in that area," said Slaughter, a Stone Mountain, Ga., native who has been working out at Wellness Performance Institute in Suwanee, Ga. "They bring most of the scouts out from Atlanta and then all the guys in the Atlanta area to do a workout for the Falcons."

Lewis-Moore remains some distance from doing any drills, but he is not conceding that his only options will come in the days following the draft.

"We'll see," he said. "I'm definitely going to stay optimistic for a later-round draft or anything because there's been guys in years past who tore ACLs and got drafted in mid-rounds or late rounds, so I've always got to keep positive."

14 players set for pro day

March, 22, 2013
3/22/13
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Notre Dame will hold its annual pro day Tuesday at the Loftus Sports Center, an event sure to draw a few more eyeballs than usual.

Like last year, the Irish could see two former players selected in the first round of the NFL draft. Unlike last year, one former player has been all any draft analyst is talking about this offseason.

Thirteen former teammates will join Manti Te'o on campus Tuesday as they look to improve their stocks in front of scouts.

Here is a full list, provided by Notre Dame:

John Goodman
Mike Golic Jr.
Braxston Cave
Theo Riddick
Robby Toma
Tyler Eifert
Cierre Wood
Kapron Lewis-Moore
Zeke Motta
Jamoris Slaughter
Manti Te’o
Ben Turk
Jordan Cowart
Chris Salvi

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