Notre Dame Football: Mike Golic Jr.

Fighting Irish morning links

August, 21, 2014
Aug 21
Bravo, Kyle McCarthy.
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.


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)


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
Sixteen former Notre Dame players will take part in Thursday's NFL Pro Day at the Loftus Sports Center, the school announced Monday.

Though each's exact participation has yet to be determined, the names scheduled to be in attendance this week are George Atkinson III, Carlo Calabrese, Dan Fox, Mike Golic Jr., Bennett Jackson, TJ Jones, Zack Martin, Troy Niklas, Louis Nix III, Tommy Rees, Kona Schwenke, Prince Shembo, Nick Tausch, Stephon Tuitt, Robby Toma and Chris Watt.

Golic and Toma both finished their Irish careers during the 2012 season.

One player from that list who won't be participating in any drills is Tuitt, who told in a text message that he already completed such drills during his Feb. 28 pro day at Lovett (Ga.) High. Tuitt had surgery earlier this month to repair a stress fracture in his left foot that was discovered during the NFL scouting combine.

Testing and position-specific drills Thursday start around 11:45 a.m. ET.
SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Tommy Rees and Chris Watt live together at Notre Dame, so the quarterback was sure to give the left guard heat when it looked like something as minor as a PCL tear would sideline one of the signal caller's anchors and best friends.

"You can ask him. I constantly tell him he's limping on the wrong leg or milking it," Rees said. "I always ask him, 'Which leg is it again?' Trying to prompt him to mess up."

It was the right leg, to be clear. And it did, in fact, end up keeping Watt out of the Nov. 2 game against Navy, before he returned the following week at Pitt.

[+] EnlargeChris Watt
Robin Alam/Icon SMIChris Watt had played in 47 straight games, including 30 straight starts, before sitting out the Nov. 2 game against Navy with an injury.
"Yeah, he's been doing that," Watt said of Rees. "Telling me to go buy some milk, things like that. But it's all in good fun."

But such ribbing has the exception to the rule, underscoring just how fortunate and proactive Watt has been with his body. The same goes for Watt's sidekick and fellow roommate Zack Martin, too.

Watt and Martin have been bedrocks up front for the Irish, fifth-year seniors who have started for three-plus years on the left side of the offensive line. They have been through Senior Day before, though this Saturday against BYU will mark their official finales at Notre Dame Stadium.

The continuity has been a point of pride for the linemen, with Watt saying that one of the hardest things he has had to do in college was telling offensive line coach Harry Hiestand before the game against the Midshipmen that he would not be able to go. That marked the first contest either Watt or Martin had missed in college. Watt had played in 47 straight games before that, starting in the last 30. Martin, meanwhile, has started every single game since redshirting in his freshman season of 2009 -- 47 of the 49 at left tackle -- and he will break the school record for career starts if he starts these final three games.

"They have really shown those young players what it takes as a unit, as a group, in the weight room, in the practice field, and how to stick together as a group," coach Brian Kelly said. "Now on the field, consistency of performance. So they've got two seniors there that have really set a high bar for everybody else to follow."

Other linemen have come and gone -- Notre Dame has seen a grand total of six players start at the other three offensive line positions these last three seasons, with two of them, Christian Lombard and Mike Golic Jr., starting in multiple spots. But Martin and Watt have been the heartbeat of the offensive line for much of the Kelly era.

The duo has become so in-sync over the years that Martin seemingly spoke on behalf of Watt several weeks ago when talking about Watt's injured knee, saying that he himself could feel it improving based on some practice reps together.

"When we're working combination blocks it's either I'm setting it up for him or he's setting a block up for me, so I can definitely feel it," Martin said. "If he's setting one up for me I can definitely feel the difference with a full strength [knee]."

Martin laughed when asked how long it took to develop such synergy, saying he did not know. Taking care of their bodies in hopes of being in that position certainly does not hurt.

"They've learned to eat better along the way. They've also trained hard in the offseason," said Keith Martin, Zack's father. "Oftentimes that prevents injuries. I'm not saying it's 100 percent, but they've learned throughout the years to not just take care of your bodies during the season, but [that] how you prepare during the offseason is important."

Martin and Watt put in extra work this summer with the five-man freshman class of offensive linemen in hopes of accelerating their growth. Martin, the program's 18th two-time captain, said the work ethic has been hard to avoid throughout his career, as he credited his father, a former Kentucky defensive lineman, for instilling the mantra in him.

Zack and his brother, center Nick Martin, said they have never missed a game at any level, though Zack got lucky with the timing of an ankle injury in last year's regular-season finale at USC and Nick is currently playing through a broken hand suffered in his last outing, Nov. 9.

Nick joked that their father had claimed "he had broken something supposedly and played through it" in college, with Keith clarifying that he had played through foot and pectoral injuries during his career 30 years ago.

The durability of Notre Dame's left side has not gone unnoticed, especially by the man whose security has been affected most by this run of reliability.

"Zack and Watt have been doing it for a long time on the left side for us, and to play in the trenches like that and -- knock on wood -- be healthy for as long as they have is unbelievable," Rees said. "When you have that kind of consistency and familiarity up there it makes the whole offense go, and it really helps some of our younger offensive linemen who haven't played feel confident and know they have guys to turn to."
College football guru Phil Steele has been releasing his preseason All-America teams for each conference recently, and the independent one is, as usual, dominated by Notre Dame players.

It's not exactly a surprise -- Steele goes three teams deep off just seven schools that make up the independents. He usually goes four teams for actual conferences.

Let's take a look at the Irish honorees, team-by-team.
Notre Dame's 25 players across the 84 players on all three teams were the most among the independents. BYU had 14, Navy had 12, New Mexico State had 12, Old Dominion had 10, Army had seven and Idaho had four.

Obviously, this list was released before Golson was suspended from school for a semester, and before the recent uncertainty surrounding Vanderdoes' desire to actually go to Notre Dame.

The Irish's entire starting defense makes the teams, save for Carlo Calabrese, who has alternated at the Will linebacker spot at Notre Dame with Fox. It's definitely surprising to see Smith, a player who has not even enrolled yet, listed over a fifth-year senior with starting experience in Calabrese.

Throw Carlise or Atkinson in the slot, split Niklas or Koyack wide, and all the Irish are missing to fill out an entire offense on this team are two offensive linemen, or the same number of starters they are still seeking there after the graduations of center Braxston Cave and right guard Mike Golic Jr. (Nick Martin and Conor Hanratty were in position to fill those spots as recently as the end of spring.)

Also, I wonder if Tommy Rees would be on this list if Steele knew of the Golson news ahead of time, considering Golson is only listed as a second-teamer. Old Dominion's Taylor Heinicke is the first-team signal caller.
Former Notre Dame tight end Jake Golic is heading to Cincinnati to play his fifth year of college ball, his father, Mike, announced Tuesday morning on his radio show, "Mike & Mike in the Morning."

Jake Golic has an industrial design degree from Notre Dame and will be eligible to play for the Bearcats right away. The West Hartford, Conn., native appeared in five games during his Irish career. His brother, Mike Jr., was the team's starting right guard this past fall.

Jake Golic will join former Irish teammate Gunner Kiel at Cincinnati, which cannot comment on the move until Golic officially enrolls.

Golic later confirmed the move himself on Twitter.
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:

Irish lunch links

May, 7, 2013
Thibs for MVP.

Irish lunch links

May, 3, 2013
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:

Irish lunch links

April, 30, 2013
Notre Dame is what we thought it was. Well, at least based on pre- and post-spring evaluations.

Colleague Mark Schlabach has released his latest version of too-early Top 25 rankings for the 2013 season, and the Irish check in at No. 10 following a spring that saw three players transfer, a second-year starting quarterback continue his growth and a defense plug in newcomers and develop depth at key positions following the graduation of three starters.

From Schlabach's story:
Previous rank: 9

The Fighting Irish went into spring practice looking for more offensive playmakers, after they averaged only 25.8 points during their 12-1 season in 2012. Quarterback Everett Golson made some strides as a passer, but the Irish are still looking for a dependable tailback and still haven't shored up the middle of their offensive line. Notre Dame lost starting center Braxston Cave and right guard Mike Golic Jr.; Conor Hanratty and Mark Harrell are battling for the guard spot, while Nick Martin and Matt Hegarty are competing at center. George Atkinson III left spring as the No. 1 tailback, but he'll be pushed in the fall by incoming freshmen Greg Bryant and Tarean Folston. The Irish will probably again be carried by their defense, so it had to be promising to see junior Jarrett Grace step into the inside linebacker spot vacated by All-American Manti Te'o.

The formula for these rankings actually takes into account who has the easiest path to run the table in 2013. And the Irish certainly have their challenges, though not unlike the ones they faced in running the regular-season table last season. (Despite hearing about their perceived 2012 slate, rightly or wrongly, after the Alabama game.)

Speaking of the Crimson Tide, there is a new No. 1 in Schlabach's rankings: Ohio State.

The Buckeyes have yet to lose a game in the Urban Meyer era, will likely be only better in Year 2 and play in a Big Ten conference that does not seem to have a legitimate No. 2 to pose as a threat to the Bucks. OSU avoids Nebraska and Michigan State in 2013, and the nonconference schedule consists of Buffalo, San Diego State, California and Florida A&M.

Irish rivals Stanford and Michigan come in near the top of Schlabach's rankings, at Nos. 5 and 9, respectively. Oklahoma and USC, other 2013 opponents, are at Nos. 17 and 23, respectively.
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:
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 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.


Breaking Down Notre Dame-Stanford
How red zone offense will be one of the biggest keys in a game where points will be at a premium.


Friday, 10/3
Saturday, 10/4