Notre Dame Football: Trevor Robinson

Notre Dame had four players selected in this year's NFL draft. The Irish had four more sign free-agent deals with NFL teams in the draft's aftermath. Not among those, surprisingly, was Gary Gray, but it looks like the cornerback may finally be getting his shot.

Gray received a tryout this weekend with the Detroit Lions, according to the Detroit Free Press' Dave Birkett:
Notre Dame CB Gary Gray is among the tryout players who'll be in rookie camp this weekend with the Lions

We know Gray's fifth year with the Irish didn't exactly go according to plan. (And we know how most of you feel about him.) But he entered college as one of the top cornerback recruits in the country, and he seemed to perform well enough during the pre-draft process to warrant surprise that he wasn't immediately picked up by an NFL franchise after not getting drafted. It looks like he's receiving the chance now after a long wait.

Here are the rest of the Notre Dame players who were picked up by NFL teams after the draft (Note: Gary Gray's is just a tryout.):

Taylor Dever, Cowboys
Jonas Gray, Dolphins
Ethan Johnson, Chiefs
Trevor Robinson, Bengals

Notre Dame spring wrap

May, 10, 2012
2011 overall record: 8-5

Returning starters: Offense: 7; defense: 7; kicker/punter: 1

Top returners
QB Tommy Rees, QB Andrew Hendrix, RB Cierre Wood, RB/WR Theo Riddick, RB/WR George Atkinson III, TE Tyler Eifert, LT Zack Martin, LG Chris Watt, C Braxston Cave, C/G Mike Golic Jr., WR Robby Toma, WR John Goodman, WR T.J. Jones, DE Stephon Tuitt, NG Louis Nix, DE Kapron Lewis-Moore, ILB Manti Te'o, ILB Dan Fox, OLB Prince Shembo, S Jamoris Slaughter, S Zeke Motta

Key losses
WR Michael Floyd, RB Jonas Gray, RG Trevor Robinson, RT Taylor Dever, DE Aaron Lynch, NG Sean Cwynar, DE Ethan Johnson, OLB Darius Fleming, S Harrison Smith, CB Gary Gray, CB Robert Blanton

2011 statistical leaders (* returners)

Rushing: Cierre Wood* (1,102 yards)
Passing: Tommy Rees* (2,871 yards)
Receiving: Michael Floyd (1,147 yards)
Tackles: Manti Te'o* (128)
Sacks: Aaron Lynch (5.5)
Interceptions: Robert Blanton/Gary Gray (2)

Spring answers

1. Tyler Eifert: His offensive teammates -- and the next starting quarterback, in particular -- owe Eifert the world for returning. New offensive coordinator Chuck Martin will use Eifert in a variety of different ways this season, and his position will resemble that of Michael Floyd's more than it will a traditional tight end's. A strong season will likely propel Eifert into the first round of next year's NFL draft.

2. No shortage of skill players: Yes, the all-time leading receiver is gone. But the Irish still boast a plethora of skilled, versatile assets who can make big plays with their speed. Tony Alford is in charge of the running backs and slot receivers this season, and Cierre Wood, Theo Riddick, Robby Toma and George Atkinson III all have the ability to make things happen out of the backfield. Look for a big year from DaVaris Daniels on the outside as well.

3. Defensive leaders: Manti Te'o would appear to be a shoe-in for a captain role this season, and he'll have plenty of help bringing along some of the unit's young talent. Jamoris Slaughter is back for a fifth year, and becoming a father this spring has forced him to grow up fast. Kapron Lewis-Moore is back for a fifth year as well, and the defensive end is one of the more respected voices on the team.

Fall questions

1. What will happen to Tommy Rees and, by extension, the QB race? Rees' immediate future is up in the air following his May 3 arrest, though his chances of starting this season figure to have greatly diminished in light of being charged with four misdemeanors. Andrew Hendrix and Everett Golson will likely benefit the most and should enter camp as the favorites, while prep phenom Gunner Kiel continues to adjust after enrolling in January.

2. What about those corners? Bennett Jackson has the talent to play well at the boundary in his first year starting but will likely have to endure some growing pains, especially against some of the elite passing offenses the Irish will face in 2012. At the field, Josh Atkinson has pushed Lo Wood for the No. 1 spot, and that will be one of the more intriguing position battles once preseason camp opens.

3. Can anyone handle this schedule? The two Big Ten favorites, the Big 12 favorite, the Pac-12 favorite. A trip to Dublin. The 2012 schedule is absolutely loaded, and the Irish will have several new pieces in key places entering the season. How quickly everybody can adjust to their roles will go a long way in determining whether Brian Kelly's third season at Notre Dame is a success.
Expect a little more purple and gold than usual on the Notre Dame campus this fall.

Robert Blanton became the latest in the Irish-to-Vikings pipeline Saturday, going to Minnesota in the fifth round (139th overall) one day after the franchise drafted the cornerback's teammate from Notre Dame's defensive backfield, Harrison Smith.

Minnesota now has five former Irish players on its roster: Blanton, Smith, Kyle Rudolph, John Carlson and John Sullivan.

Darius Fleming was drafted a round later (165th overall) by the 49ers, who made Fleming the first Notre Dame linebacker drafted since 2004, when the Saints took Courtney Watson. San Francisco had not drafted a Notre Dame player since taking Arnaz Battle in the sixth round in 2003.

Several former Irish players signed free-agent deals with NFL teams -- defensive end Ethan Johnson with the Chiefs, running back Jonas Gray with the Dolphins and offensive tackle Taylor Dever with the Cowboys. Guard Trevor Robinson posted on Twitter on Sunday that he signed with the Bengals.

Numbers from ND's pro day

April, 3, 2012
Representatives from 27 NFL teams were present Tuesday for Notre Dame's pro day. The Irish just released numbers and notes from the event. Here you go ...
  • Robert Blanton (4.53/4.56) had the fastest 40-time among the five former Irish players who ran it. His 4.53 would have been fourth among safeties at February's combine in Indianapolis, and would have tied for 12th among cornerbacks.
  • The other 40 times from Tuesday: Darius Fleming (4.58/4.54), Gary Gray (4.75/4.70), Trevor Robinson (5.24/5.22), and Taylor Dever (5.38/5.34).
  • Robinson, who was not invited to the combine, would have been the only offensive lineman there to rank among the top 10 in vertical jump (30 inches; tied for 8th), broad jump (8 feet, 9 inches; tied for 6th), bench press (31; tied for 8th), and 40-yard dash (5.22; 8th).
  • Jonas Gray improved his bench press number from 20 at the combine to 22 Tuesday.
  • David Ruffer hit 13 of 15 field goals.
  • Harrison Smith's 60-yard shuttle time (11.52) would have been the fastest time among safeties at the combine. That was the only timed drill Smith participated in Tuesday.
  • Michael Floyd ran an 11.66 in the 60-yard shuttle. The 3-cone drill (7.13/7.11) and pro agility drill (4.23/4.37) were the only other timed drills he took part in Tuesday.
SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Jimmy Clausen is scheduled to fly out of town Wednesday morning, but the former Notre Dame signal caller is hoping to re-schedule his flight so he can get an in-person glimpse of the Irish's quarterback competition during the team's ninth spring practice.

The current reserve signal caller for the Carolina Panthers went through a four-man competition at the position during his freshman year in 2007, emerging as the starter for the Irish's second game.

"Oh man, it seems like a long, long time ago," Clausen said. "But it was a lot of fun. Coming in as a freshman — I came in early — it was kind of a whirlwind for me. Just learning the playbook and everything like that. But [Tommy Rees'] done a great job, [Andrew Hendrix's] done a great job and I'm looking forward to watching those guys this year."

He said he met Gunner Kiel on Monday, offering whatever advice he could to another early enrollee who entered Notre Dame with huge expectations following a decorated prep career.

"I talked to him yesterday for a little bit, introduced myself to him and just said good luck with everything," Clausen said. "If he needs anything just give me a call, we'll talk."

Some other pro day items, per Notre Dame officials:

  • Cornerback Robert Blanton's 40-yard dash time was in the low 4.5s. Linebacker Darius Fleming's was between 4.50-4.59. NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock, who also does color commentary for Notre Dame home games on NBC, said he can see Blanton playing safety at the next level.
  • Right guard Trevor Robinson bench pressed 225 pounds 31 times.
  • Running back Jonas Gray, who tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee Nov. 19, ran pass patterns and was able to explode and cut, and he did not wear a brace on his knee. Gray did not run a 40, saying he won't be able to until late May or early June, by which point it would be unnecessary.
SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- A rainy Friday forced Notre Dame indoors for spring practice No. 6, which shed no new light on the four-man quarterback competition.

Not that the Irish are expecting any definitive answers in the next three weeks, anyway.

The signal callers went against a three-man rush Friday, coach Brian Kelly said, making sure they could keep plays alive against eight-man coverages and secure the ball.

"Each day we're staging different tests for the quarterbacks," Kelly said. "That's why this is gonna be a long process. We're not gonna have this thing accomplished because we have not even got to the checks in our offense yet. There are no checks in yet. It's call it and play.

"So as you know last year we ran so many checks that we checked ourselves out of plays. So just to give you a perspective of how far we are from even being able to say the quarterback is ready, we're not even there in terms of our system."

Kelly said the starter will be whoever takes care of the football, and he thinks the quarterbacks have done a better job of understanding that "zero" is an OK play.

"We've gone back and taught fundamentals so nobody started ahead of the other quarterback," Kelly said. "So now we're seeing progression from each one of them in picking up the things that we want."

Some other notes from Friday ...
  • Prince Shembo's left foot was immobilized because of turf toe, and he is expected to miss two to three days. Ishaq Williams took reps with the first-team defense during practice, the first half-hour of which was open to the media.
  • Robby Toma took reps at running back, but Kelly said that was more a function of the Irish's slot receiver position meshing with running back: "It's matching personnel. So it's not necessarily that Robby runs the inside zone extremely well, it's matching personnel so we can move guys to different positions on the field. So again it's just multiple formations that allow us to move the defense and it might be just to move the defense in a position where it opens up for Tyler Eifert or it opens up something else, so it's not something we would evaluate as he's in the mix to be one of the running backs, but because we've tagged the position as a slot receiver position, when the play-call comes in and he's in the game, sometimes he'll find himself in that position."
  • Kelly said the Irish are putting pieces together for their return teams, but no catching has been done yet.
  • Nine former Notre Dame players will participate in the school's pro day Tuesday: Robert Blanton, Taylor Dever, Darius Fleming, Michael Floyd, Gary Gray, Jonas Gray, Trevor Robinson, David Ruffer and Harrison Smith.

Six ND players invited to combine

February, 7, 2012
Robert Blanton, Taylor Dever, Darius Fleming, Michael Floyd, Jonas Gray and Harrison Smith were all invited to the NFL scouting combine, held Feb. 22-28 in Indianapolis.

Here is the breakdown of Notre Dame’s 2011 opponents who will be at the combine:

USC: 7
Stanford: 6
Michigan State: 6
Florida State: 6
Wake Forest: 4
Pittsburgh: 4
Michigan: 3
South Florida: 1
Boston College: 1
Purdue: 1
Maryland: 1

Early reaction: I’m a little surprised Trevor Robinson and Gary Gray were not invited. Robinson improved a lot toward the end of his Notre Dame career and added plenty of strength. Gray, despite his well-documented struggles this season, has the tools necessary to impress scouts. I’m also hoping this means Jonas Gray’s rehab is going well so far, as the running back will be just three months removed from an ACL tear when the combine begins. Despite the limitations that he likely still has, here’s hoping he did enough to impress scouts during this past season and that some team takes a chance on him come April’s draft.

How ND's starters fared as recruits

January, 31, 2012
With signing day one day away, let's take a look back at where Notre Dame's 2011 starters stood as prep prospects before arriving on campus. For the purpose of timeliness, we'll go with the official starters from the Irish's most recent game, the Champs Sports Bowl. We'll sprinkle in a few key contributors here and there, too.

We'll go by ESPN RecruitingNation's rankings. For further explanation on the evaluation system, click here.

QB Tommy Rees: No. 19 QB in Class of '10, 79 Scout Grade
RB Cierre Wood: No. 11 ATH, No. 122 overall in Class of '09, 81 Scout Grade
WR T.J. Jones: No. 10 WR, No 68 overall in Class of '10, 81 Scout Grade
WR John Goodman: No. 43 WR in Class of '08, 79 Scout Grade
WR Robby Toma: No. 199 WR in Class of '09, 68 Scout Grade
TE Tyler Eifert: No. 13 TE in Class of '09, 79 Scout Grade
LT Zack Martin: No. 10 OT, No. 109 overall in Class of '09, 81 Scout Grade
LG Chris Watt: No. 5 OG, No. 68 overall in Class of '09, 82 Scout Grade
C Mike Golic: No. 4 C, 79 Scout Grade
RG Trevor Robinson: No. 8 OG, 80 Scout Grade
RT Taylor Dever: No. 141 OT, 69 Scout Grade

Others worth noting:
  • QB Dayne Crist: No. 2 QB, No. 22 overall in Class of '08, 84 Scout Grade
  • QB Andrew Hendrix: No. 11 QB in Class of '10, 80 Scout Grade
  • RB Jonas Gray: No. 11 RB, No. 89 overall in Class of '08, 82 Scout Grade
  • WR Michael Floyd: No. 9 WR, No. 29 overall in Class of '08, 83 Scout Grade
  • RB/WR Theo Riddick: No. 48 ATH in class of '09, 78 Scout Grade
  • C Braxston Cave: No. 1 center, No. 126 overall in Class of '08, 81 Scout Grade
DE Ethan Johnson: No. 6 DE, No. 81 overall in Class of '08, 82 Scout Grade
NG Louis Nix: No. 6 DT, No. 64 overall in Class of '10, 81 Scout Grade
DE Aaron Lynch: No. 3 DE, No. 15 overall in Class of '11, 84 Scout Grade
OLB Darius Fleming: No. 7 DE, No. 94 overall in Class of '08, 81 Scout Grade
ILB Dan Fox: No. 76 OLB in Class of '09, 76 Scout Grade
ILB Manti Te'o: No. 1 OLB, No. 2 overall in Class of '09, 93 Scout Grade
CB Robert Blanton: No. 50 S in Class of '08, 76 Scout Grade
SS Harrison Smith: No. 26 S in Class of '07, 78 Scout Grade
FS Jamoris Slaughter: No. 5 S, No. 85 overall in Class of '08, 82 Scout Grade
FS Zeke Motta: No. 28 S in Class of '09, 79 Scout Grade
CB Gary Gray: No. 2 CB, No. 13 overall in Class of '07, 85 Scout Grade

Others worth noting:
Of players who saw significant time for Notre Dame in 2011, 16 were ESPNU 150 players coming out of high school. If Cave and Slaughter are granted fifth years, 10 of those 16 will be back next season.

Six of the Irish's current 17 Class of 2012 commitments are ESPNU 150 players.
Former Notre Dame cornerbacks Robert Blanton and Gary Gray will team up on the East squad in the 87th annual East-West Shrine Game on Saturday in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Former Irish right guard Trevor Robinson will take the field the same day in the inaugural NFLPA Collegiate Bowl. Harrison Smith, a safety and the Irish's lone team captain this past season, will play in the 63rd Senior Bowl on Jan. 28.

Former NFL and college coach Bobby Ross will coach Blanton and Gray in the Shrine game, during which Blanton will wear jersey No. 11 (he wore No. 12 at Notre Dame). The all-star festival kicks off at 4 p.m. ET at Tropicana Field and airs on the NFL Network.

Two hours later, at Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., Robinson will suit up for the American team — coached by former NFL head coach Tom Flores — in the Collegiate Bowl, which will air on NBC Sports Network.

Smith, meanwhile, will suit up one week later for the North team, coached by Minnesota Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier and the Vikings' staff. That game, at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Ala., will kick at 4 p.m. and air on the NFL Network.

Twelve Irish earn independent honors

December, 16, 2011
Michael Floyd, Manti Te'o and George Atkinson III highlighted the FBS independent honors Friday, earning hardware and all-independent team recognition.

Floyd was named the independent offensive player of the year, Te'o the independent defensive player of the year and Atkinson the independent special teams player of the year.

Floyd, Cierre Wood, Tyler Eifert, Zack Martin and Trevor Robinson made the all-independent offensive team. Te'o, Aaron Lynch, Louis Nix, Robert Blanton and Harrison Smith made the all-independent defensive team.

Atkinson and David Ruffer made the all-independent special teams unit.

Tommy Rees, Jonas Gray, Taylor Dever, Darius Fleming, Jamoris Slaughter and Gary Gray earned honorable mention.
The regular season is over and the end of the semester has arrived. Here, we grade Notre Dame's 2011 campaign by position. Part three of the 10-part series brings us to the offensive line.


Grade: A-

Summary: Beginning the season with four returning starters (and finishing with three), the Notre Dame offensive line figured to be a strength entering 2011, and it was. After surrendering five sacks in the first four games of the season, the Irish then went the entire month of October without giving one up. The line had its trouble at Stanford, surrendering five sacks, but managed to finish the regular season tied for 17th in sacks allowed, giving up just 13 on the year.

On the ground, Notre Dame may very well have had two 1,000-yard rushers this season if not for Jonas Gray's ACL tear on Senior Day against Boston College. Gray finished with 791 yards in less than 11 full games, and Cierre Wood rushed for 1,042 yards in the regular season. Center Braxston Cave went down Nov. 5 at Wake Forest with a left foot injury and was replaced by Mike Golic Jr., who filled in nicely.

The line could do without so many flags, as it was a big reason the Irish were ranked 80th in the nation in penalties. But the 2011 campaign was by and large a successful one for the men in the trenches.

Backups: Golic emerged as starter after Cave went down and could return next year, though his role is, at the moment, undefined. Cave will likely be withheld from contact in the spring, giving Golic more reps at center. The senior does have experience at guard, too, and could possibly take over Trevor Robinson's role there next season, which would give the Irish four experienced starters for 2012. The question mark comes at right tackle, where fifth-year senior Taylor Dever will leave a hole next season.

Previous report cards:


Defensive line

Staying or going? Mike Golic Jr.

November, 30, 2011
This week we are taking a look at each of Notre Dame's fourth-year scholarship players with eligibility remaining and examining whether he will likely return to the Irish next season. Here, we look at center Mike Golic Jr.

Before Notre Dame: From Northwest Catholic High School in West Hartford, Conn., Golic entered Notre Dame as ESPNU's No. 4 overall center.

At Notre Dame: Golic saw action in 23 games before taking over starting center duties Nov. 5 after Braxston Cave went down with a season-ending left foot injury. Golic has done a nice job filling in, starting the last three games. In Golic's first two games as a starter, the line paved the way for 186.5 rushing yards per game. (That number dropped to 143.3 rushing yards per game following the Irish's 57-yard struggle Saturday at Stanford.)

What's next?: The film, television and theatre major will start in the Irish's bowl game and, if he comes back, would likely see most of the time at center in the spring as the limited Cave continues to recover from surgery.

The verdict: Staying. Golic is a valuable piece to the line. Even if Cave makes a full recovery in time for the start of next season, Golic could very well start next to him at right guard, which will be up for grabs next season with Trevor Robinson gone. Golic has seen time at guard before.

Previous players:
Braxston Cave
Lane Clelland
Dayne Crist
Sean Cwynar

Staying or going? Braxston Cave

November, 29, 2011
This week we will take a look at each of Notre Dame's fourth-year scholarship players with eligibility remaining and examine whether he will likely return to the Irish next season. We don't play favorites here, so we will be going in alphabetical order. Today, we start with Braxston Cave.

Before Notre Dame: From nearby Penn High School in Mishawaka, Ind., Cave entered Notre Dame as ESPNU's No. 126 overall prospect, and its No. 1 overall center.

At Notre Dame: The 6-foot-3, 303-pound Cave played in 34 straight games and started 22 in a row before suffering a season-ending left foot injury Nov. 5 at Wake Forest. Mike Golic Jr. has started in his place since.

What's next?: Cave underwent surgery Nov. 10 and will probably be held out of contact in the spring. Brian Kelly said he had two centers suffer similar injuries before -- in which a ligament pulls off the bone mid-foot -- and both came back strong. He estimated the recovery time is similar to that of a torn anterior cruciate ligament.

The verdict: Staying. Cave has been an anchor on the line the past two years. He grew up on Notre Dame. And he will provide more stability to a unit that loses its entire right side next season, in guard Trevor Robinson and tackle Taylor Dever.

Bye week grades: offensive line

October, 16, 2011

Grade: A

Summary: Notre Dame has a pair of 400-plus-yard rushers. Tommy Rees has been sacked just four times. Both numbers are largely due to the strength of the offensive line, which has played tremendously through the first half of the season. Left guard Chris Watt has settled into his role of starter without any troubles so far, and right guard Trevor Robinson has shown tremendous improvement from last year to this year. The unit has jelled together as one in the season's first six games, and it has, by all accounts, meshed incredibly well with the running backs, who have repeatedly expressed their excitement about running behind such a powerful unit. If there is one area the linemen can improve on it is perhaps discipline, as they have contributed their fair share to an Irish team that ranks 99th in the nation in penalties. But overall, it's tough to complain about the line's first-half performance.

Backups: With three senior starters it will be tough to replicate this year's success in the early going of 2012. Only five reserves have seen time so far this season, and three of them are seniors. Two players on the two-deep are true freshmen who have yet to see the field this season.

Previous report cards:


Defensive line

Q&A with Dan Fox

September, 16, 2011
Dan Fox surprised many when he beat out Carlo Calabrese, last year's starter, for a No. 1 inside linebacker role. Now, he is dealing with the surprise of an 0-2 start to a season that began with BCS dreams.

Here, the junior talks about those the early-season adjustments and, of course, his ridiculously long hair.

[+] EnlargeNotre Dame's Dan Fox
Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesNotre Dame junior linebacker Dan Fox said he hasn't cut his hair since high school.
First off, tell me about the hair. How did it start?
"Well at high school at St. Ignatius (Cleveland), the rules were real strict there, so I had to keep it clean-cut and everything. So when I graduated, that was actually the last time I cut my hair, my high school graduation."

So it's more of a freedom symbol than anything else?

What was your first experience with Notre Dame football, either on TV or in-person?
"When I was little I knew about it. But after two of my high school -- I didn't play with them -- but they went to my high school: Johnny Ryan and Robby Parris, decided they were gonna come to Notre Dame, I started to get a little bit more in-tune with what they're about and everything."

How was the school different or similar to your impressions once you got here?
"It's different when you get here obviously. The workouts were really tough at first. I was not surprised but it was real difficult. But after I got over that it was fine and I really enjoy it now."

What's this year been like: your first year starting, 0-2 start -- how big of an adjustment has it been for you?
"It wasn't a great start but we're moving on now. We're just thinking about Michigan State every day. In practice I thought about Michigan State the whole time."

Given the history surrounding this place, do you even allow yourselves to think, 'What if we go 0-3?'
"No, I don't think like that at all. I think we're just gonna prepare as best we can and we're gonna do our best."

Who's the biggest trash talker on the team?
"Me and Trev get into it a little bit. Trevor Robinson. Me and him get into it a little bit but that's about it."

Who's the toughest on the line or in the backfield you have to go up against every day?
"Like hits the hardest?"

Someone you know you're gonna have to go 100 percent against every day.
"I'd say Zack Martin probably. He's always head-butting me." (laughs)


Notre Dame To Hold Out Another Player Due To Probe
Matt Fortuna discusses Eilar Hardy being held out of practice and games as Notre Dame continues its internal investigation into academic misconduct.


Friday, 8/29
Saturday, 8/30