Quick Hits: Irish coach Brian Kelly's Media Day press conference

Mike Vorel
South Bend Tribune

SOUTH BEND — On Tuesday, "Media Day" lived up to its name.

With Notre Dame midway through training camp, the Irish had an open practice, followed by a press conference with head coach Brian Kelly and interviews with players and assistant coaches.

Here are some of the key points Kelly covered in his press conference.

  • Senior cornerback KeiVarae Russell has been fully cleared by the NCAA to play this season, Kelly confirmed. Russell missed the entire 2014 season with an academic suspension. Suspended senior defensive end Ishaq Williams has written an appeal that has been submitted to the NCAA for consideration.
  • Torii Hunter Jr. may be prepared for a breakout season. Kelly said that the junior wide receiver is the most versatile on the team, capable of playing every position for the Irish. "You're going to see a lot of him this year," Kelly said.
  • After making an impact in his sophomore season, Kelly said that he doesn't expect opposing defenses to give Notre Dame junior wide receiver Corey Robinson many 1-on-1 looks this season. "They'd be crazy if they did," Kelly said.
  • Kelly raved about how first-year offensive coordinator Mike Sanford has settled in at Notre Dame and said that they are very in sync philosophically. "Every day is an affirmation of what I hoped going into it," Kelly said. The sixth-year head coach also commended Sanford's ability to communicate with his quarterbacks.
  • When asked to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of Notre Dame's program, Kelly said they need to continue to support their student-athletes academically in such a rigorous environment. That's an ongoing process.
  • Kelly praised senior defensive tackle Sheldon Day's leadership, especially within the defensive line room. Day was a hesitant leader despite being a captain in 2014, Kelly said, but he has grabbed the reins this summer. Kelly also credited Day with bringing along freshman nose tackle Jerry Tillery. "There's no mistake about it. That's Sheldon's room," Kelly said.
  • Kelly confirmed that graduate student Joe Schmidt will start at middle linebacker, but both sophomore Nyles Morgan and graduate student Jarrett Grace will play, Kelly said.
  • Two areas where junior quarterback Malik Zaire has made great strides, Kelly said, are with touch passes and ball placement.

Head coach Brian Kelly speaks with quarterback Malik Zaire Saturday, August 15, 2015, at the Notre Dame football practice at Labar Practice Complex. SBT Photo/GREG SWIERCZ