Blue and Gold Illustrated

Oct. 26, 2019*

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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12 OCT. 26, 2019 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED UNDER THE DOME MILT JACKSON: 1963-2019 Former 1982-86 Notre Dame wide receiver Milt Jack- son, passed away Sept. 26 at age 55. A top-100 prospect from Fairfield (Iowa) High who last year was inducted into the Iowa High School Football Hall of Fame, Jackson started 33 games for the Fighting Irish (played in 43 overall), finishing with 85 catches for 1,440 yards (16.9 yards per catch) and nine touchdowns. Jackson started two games as a freshman under head coach Gerry Faust in 1982, and then the next season his 23 catches averaged a team high 19.0 yards while tying tight end Mark Bavaro for touchdown catches (three). A year later his 28 catches (13.0 average and four touch- downs) were second to Bavaro's 32, but an illness side- lined Jackson in 1985. As a fifth-year senior in 1986 under first-year head coach Lou Holtz, Jackson was overshad- owed by future Heisman Trophy winner Tim Brown but he still was a strong No. 2 target with 31 receptions that averaged 19.1 yards, highlighted by a spectacular, acro- batic 42-yard touchdown catch in the dramatic 38-37 comeback win at USC in his final college game. Jackson graduated in 1987 with a bachelor's degree in accounting and in 1986 earned the Scholar- Athlete Award from the Notre Dame Club of St. Joseph Valley, highlighted by a 3.75 grade-point average during the 1986 spring semester. Undrafted by the NFL, he moved to Indianapolis to work for the accounting firm of Ernst & Young and later in Texas enjoyed a successful career working in the accounting/finance field in various managerial capacities. Also an ordained deacon and a volunteer youth football coach, Jackson was employed by Verizon for 24 years where he worked in tax, audit, reporting and accounting; holding his final position as a manager of financial planning and analysis. His survivors include his wife, Darla (Jones); children, sons Lance and Blake, and six brothers and sisters. — Lou Somogyi The Art Of Redshirting Notre Dame associate head coach and defen- sive line coach Mike Elston referred to the 2018 NCAA pronouncement that now allows college football players to play four games at any time of the season without losing a year of eligibility as the best new rule he has seen in the game. With it comes a strategy to map out who will be inserted and when. It applies not merely to freshmen anymore, but upperclassmen as well. For example, freshman linebacker Marist Liufau was not used on special teams in the blowout wins versus New Mexico State (66-14) and Bowl- ing Green (52-0), because the better option is to have his impact against teams such as Georgia and Virginia, and maybe USC and Michigan, too. Meanwhile, with some concerns about the cor- nerback position next season — no corners were signed in 2017 — the staff wants to preserve a fifth season in 2020 for senior Donte Vaughn. Thus, if Vaughn played against USC Oct. 12, that would be his fourth games this season — and he would not be allowed to participate in anymore in 2019 if he wants to return next year. "I have coordinator meetings on Sundays and Tuesdays to kind of set weekly as to who is on the depth chart, who are guys that are touchable and who are untouchable [to play in games]," head coach Brian Kelly said. Prior to the season similar decisions are also made, especially with freshmen. A few are ear- marked as "instant help" all season, a la safety Kyle Hamilton. Others are assessed a little longer, like a Liufau, and four games are picked out in which to participate. Then there are players the coaches know will be redshirted. "There is kind of three different groups that those guys fall into, and now it's starting to kind of shake itself out," Kelly said. "I wouldn't say it's very complicated or intricate. It's about evalua- tion and seeing guys that can help us win foot- ball games in roles. Those guys that are playing significant roles in more than special teams, well, those are easy decisions. "It's the guys that are in limited roles and how those limited roles can either be parceled out to four games, or these guys are just too good and they have to play in special teams because they're impacting us." As for upperclassmen such as Vaughn or others, it's not a unilateral decision by the coaching staff. The player also has to buy in — and he can al- ways use that fifth year to play at another school where he believes he could have greater impact. "They hold the final card in that whole pro- cess," Kelly said. "I think there is trust built within the relationships that we have, so those were candid conversations that there can't be a 100 percent guarantee — because we're playing for today. If we need somebody, they have to recog- nize the fact that we need you right now. "Some guys have already had to make those decisions, that they're committed to this team right now and are playing for this season. We certainly have player-to-player sit-down con- versations, and their families, regarding those situations." — Lou Somogyi PERSONNEL NEWS & NOTES It was understood that sophomore wide receiver Kevin Austin would sit out the first four games this season in an internal matter similar to the one faced last year by running back Dexter Williams and two years ago by receiver Kevin Stepherson. By game two, former cornerback Avery Davis was moved to running back and donned Austin's No. 4 jersey. The fact that Austin also did not play in game five either, versus Bowling Green, may have been a clue that he will not see action this year. Head coach Brian Kelly confirmed that Austin is still in school and practices daily with the team. When asked if Austin will be available at all later this season, Kelly remained non-committal. "We'll see. It's a week-to-week situation," he replied. • Sophomore wide receiver Lawrence Keys III did not play versus Bowling Green while dealing with a heel/plantar fasciitis injury. He was cleared to play versus USC. • Kelly has lauded the production and self-as- suredness of fifth-year senior Asmar Bilal at Buck linebacker and junior Drew White at Mike, which is why they have now ensconced themselves as bona fide starters instead of rotation players. "The first thing is to be disciplined and both [Bilal] and Drew have found that discipline," Kelly said. — Lou Somogyi After the USC game, it is expected that senior Donte Vaughn will sit out the remainder of the year to preserve a redshirt season in order to bolster the Irish at cornerback in 2020. PHOTO BY MIKE MILLER Jackson, who played wide receiver for the Irish from 1982-86, passed away Sept. 26 at age 55. PHOTO COURTESY NOTRE DAME ATHLETICS

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