Blue and Gold Illustrated

Preseason 2020

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

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30 PRESEASON 2020 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY LOU SOMOGYI W hether or not there will be a start and then a finish to the 2020 college football sea- son will be determined in the ensuing months. A m o n g 1 3 0 F o o t - ball Bowl Subdivision teams, 76 were still in play when Blue & Gold Illustrated went to print Aug. 25, while 54 — most notably Power Five conferences the Big Ten and Pac-12 — opted out in the battle against the coronavirus, and hope to reschedule in the spring. M e a n w h i l e , N o t re Dame did cancel three on-field practices from Aug. 19-21 after shifting to online classes only Aug. 18, but remained one of the 76 still press- ing onward. Because of COVID-19, there has been zero media access to preseason workouts. A couple of Zoom conferences with head coach Brian Kelly, most recently on Aug. 17, and press releases by Irish media re- lations have been the main source of information on team-related matters. Here were five of the top person- nel stories from preseason camp that began Aug. 12: 1. PARING DOWN TO 85 SCHOLARSHIPS Entering the month of August, Notre Dame was unofficially at 90 scholarships, and by NCAA mandate needed to be at the 85 limit. That was achieved with the follow- ing subtractions: • Former walk-on running back and graduate Mick Assaf is not re- turning for his fifth season in 2020 so he can pursue his current business interest in @yokegaming. The Georgia native was with the program the past four seasons and was rewarded with a scholarship, along with offensive lineman Colin Grunhard, through at least the spring and summer semesters of 2020. • Three players who did not re- ceive medical clearance to play in 2020. They will maintain their schol- arships as students, but it will be transferred to a general school fund and not count against the 85 the NCAA permits on a roster. Senior wide receiver Isaiah Robert- son — recruited as a safety — played primarily on special teams his first two seasons, but redshirted last year. Junior offensive tackle Cole Mabry took 24 snaps in the 66-14 blowout of New Mexico last year, the second game. He did not play the rest of the season, and had been hampered by a neck injury. Graduate transfer running back Trevor Speights, who was at Stanford from 2016-19 but missed two full sea- sons with the Cardinal, including 2019. • The first week into camp, sophomore right guard John Olmstead, who worked behind fifth-year senior guard Tommy Kraemer and ju- nior John Dirksen in the lone spring practice, put his name into the trans- fer portal. Minus Olm- stead and Mabry, Notre Dame's offensive line still had three full units (15 players) on scholarship. 2. INJURIES SIDELINE TWO PLAYERS Junior wideout Kevin Austin suffered a broken foot (fifth metatarsal) in a July 29 workout, and had surgery Aug. 3. October might be the earliest return for him, or it could extend into November. "It's anywhere from eight to 12 weeks, de- pending on how he heals," Kelly said. "He's got a great attitude. … But he's got to be off his feet for the first four weeks and then we can begin some form of rehab program for him." Projected to be the successor to sec- ond-round pick Chase Claypool as the boundary receiver, Austin was allowed to practice with the team last year but was not permitted to play in games because of a violation of team policy. Among the five freshman receiv- ers signed in 2018, Austin was the only one who played, that year, snar- ing five passes for 90 yards. The 6-2, 210-pound Coconut Creek, Fla., na- tive was ranked as the nation's No. 88 overall prospect by Rivals that season. "Kevin Austin is going to be a star," Claypool said at the NFL Combine this winter when asked who could be the next top Fighting Irish wideout. Sophomore defensive end NaNa Osafo-Mensah had surgery Aug. 13 to repair a meniscus injury in his left MOVING FORWARD Amid the college football cancellations were numerous 2020 personnel notes this August Graduate transfer safety Isaiah Pryor is expected to vie for extensive action this season after finishing No. 1 in his position group in various testing drills to evaluate physical skill level. PHOTO COURTESY NOTRE DAME ATHLETICS

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