Blue and Gold Illustrated

Preseason 2014

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

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BY LOU SOMOGYI AND TOM LOY I n each of Brian Kelly's past three seasons, Notre Dame produced a defensive first-team Freshman All-American on at least one me- dia outlet: lineman Aaron Lynch (2011), cornerback KeiVarae Russell (2012) and linebacker Jaylon Smith (2013). That impressive streak of true fresh- men, matched by Florida State, might be snapped in 2014, but it won't be from a lack of trying. Among Notre Dame's 23 scholar- ship players in this year 's freshman class — including quarterback Mont- gomery VanGorder, who originally was a preferred walk-on before going on scholarship this summer — more than half could see action, mostly on the defensive front seven. That's not necessarily stunning be- cause Notre Dame graduated three starting linebackers from last year's unit (Prince Shembo, Carlo Calabrese and Dan Fox), plus senior Jarrett Grace's health status remains unsettled. On the line, 2011-13 mainstays Louis Nix III and Stephon Tuitt are now in the NFL, top backup Kona Schwenke graduated and senior Tony Spring- mann's football career has ended be- cause of health ailments. Consequently, the door was open for playing time among the huge re- inforcements at those two position groups (seven defensive linemen and three linebackers) in this year 's re- cruiting class. Here's our annual preseason over- view of the freshman class based on the first two-plus weeks of practice from Aug. 4-20. IMMEDIATE HELP: DEFENSE & OFFENSE DEFENSIVE END ANDREW TRUMBETTI AND TIGHT END TYLER LUATUA. Trumbetti joined wide receiver Jus- tin Brent as the two early enrollees this spring. The 15 extra spring prac- tices proved to be beneficial to the 6-4, 251-pound Trumbetti because by the second week of training camp he was ahead of junior Romeo Okwara for the starting role at weakside defensive end. Trumbetti was pushing Okwara in the spring, too, and was going to get on the field regardless because he was A DEFENSIVE POSTURE Half of the freshman class, mainly on defense, could see action in 2014

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