Spring practice starts tomorrow
In a press conference this afternoon, football head coach Brian Kelly discussed the beginning of spring practices and how the team is shaping up for next season.
Kelly stressed that although tomorrow officially marks the beginning of spring practice, the program has been hard at work since January, building the team to make it the strongest it can be. In addition to recruiting a strong incoming class, the coaching staff has been strengthening the players mentally and physically with strenuous workouts designed to test them. Kelly said that tomorrow will be all about skill development.
He addressed the fact that the team has some significant voids to fill, but he is “excited about players who get a chance to step into those roles.” There will be spirited competition for positions across the board, something Kelly said he has been waiting for since he started coaching at ND.
Of course, all eyes are on the quarterback position. After Malik Zaire injured his ankle against Virginia in the second game of the season last year, sophomore DeShone Kizer stepped up to lead the Irish to a victory over Virginia and eight more wins in the 2015 season. With Brandon Wimbush in the mix now, there are three strong contenders for the position.
Zaire has recovered fully from his injury, and after team-wide testing, his numbers indicate that he is well on his way back to his pre-injury capabilities.
— Notre Dame Football (@NDFootball) March 3, 2016
When asked how Kizer’s experience gives him an edge, Kelly said he has an important knowledge of the offense and a wealth of game day experience that cannot be duplicated. At the same time, Zaire also has the ability to not only run the offense but to galvanize the team, while Wimbush has the best arm amongst the three and is extremely fast.
Acknowledging the competition for the position will last throughout the spring and summer perhaps into the season, Kelly called the situation an “embarrassment of riches.”
Because only one of the three very talented contenders will win starting quarterback, the question arose as to how difficult it is to keep the players committed to the process, considering that some players choose to transfer to schools where they would get more playing time. Kelly said that Zaire, Kizer, and Wimbush are all great competitors and they all want to play, but he hopes they recognize that Notre Dame is a unique place. The advantages of a Notre Dame degree are obvious, but Kelly thinks that the chance to play for Notre Dame, even if it is just for one season, might be worth it.
Kelly also noted that he is not opposed to utilizing more than one quarterback, citing the advantages of subbing them in and out in order to walk away with a win.
The battle for QB will be a fierce one, but with so much competition, Notre Dame is guaranteed a strong offensive leader.
Best of luck to the Irish as they begin spring practice.