Thursday, January 14, 2010

Spring prep | by Pat

As we look towards Signing Day, the official roster got a bit bigger with the addition of some early enrollees, announced 5th year players, the return of a former preferred walk-on, and a QB recruit who will stick with ND.

On Tuesday, the largest group of early enrollee football players ever all settled into their dorms and started classes. Here's the list of the five early enrollees who will add much needed depth in spring practice, especially at QB and safety.

Rees will get most of the attention this spring, if only because enrolling early effectively places him as the only healthy scholarship quarterback on the roster. Much has been made of Kelly's ability to plug and play at the QB position and that will certainly get tested this spring. Badger will also add needed depth to a safety 2-deep that will need to be completely rebuilt with the graduation of Kyle McCarthy, Sergio Brown, Rey Herring, and Leonard Gordon. Depending on what the staff does with Harrison Smith, Badger could find himself already a second-stringer at strong safety. The other three players get a bit more of a luxury of learning from some seasoned vets at corner and receiver.

Speaking of vets, four 5th year players have been annouced, per Blue and Gold Illustrated. As expected, Darrin Walls, Chris Stewart, and Dan Wenger all return. Barry Gallup is also back, which is a bit of a surprise, but he was a dependable returner last year on special teams and will provide more receiver depth for ND's new spread offense. Leonard Gordon, mentioned above, would have added needed depth at safety, but apparently is moving on with his life and career. As noted in the article, Bobby Burger may still be back, which personally would be a good thing for the TE depth chart and special teams.

Finally, Crist and Rees will have some company this spring as Nate Montana is back at ND after spending the fall at Pasadena City College. Frankly, his numbers last fall were pretty mediocre, but experience is experience. He'll have his work cut out for him this spring, but ND needs the numbers at this point.

Help will arrive in the fall when QB recruit Andrew Hendrix enrolls. He backed away from ND briefly when Charlie was fired and recently took a trip down to Florida at Urban's request which had ND considering other options, but once back in Ohio decided to stick with his original commitment. He wrote a blog post for Irish Sports Daily that explain the last few weeks for him, so follow the link to see what he has to say.