Notebook: Doug Randolph's Notre Dame career comes to end

Eric Hansen
South Bend Tribune

SOUTH BEND —Doug Randolph’s first taste of coaching comes with it some unfortunate circumstances.

A spinal condition has pushed the backup defensive end from Richmond, Va., to medical hardship status, meaning he can stay on scholarship at Notre Dame but his football playing career is over and he does not count against the 85-scholarship limit.

Since Randolph redshirted as a freshman, the senior-to-be will be giving up two seasons of eligibility.

“He’ll be a student assistant (coach),” Irish head coach Brian Kelly said, “assisting on the defensive line.”

Randolph, like former Irish running back C.J. Prosise and current ND linebacker Greer Martini, came to ND from Woodberry Forest, a private, all-male boarding school in Virginia. But unlike the others, he struggled to find a role.

He had auditioned as an inside linebacker and outside linebacker before landing in the defensive end depth chart. Most of his playing time (19 career games) came on special teams. He finished with six career tackles.

An outside perspective

Kelly publicly defended the Notre Dame defensive scheme Tuesday, probably the first of many times this spring he’ll be pressed for answers about two laboring seasons on that side of the ball.

“We don’t have scheme issues,” he said.

But apparently he does acknowledge the nation’s 45th-ranked defense overall and 72nd against the run has room for improvement.

“We did some things in the offseason that opened up our self-scouting to another school that we played, and we met with that staff,” Kelly said. “We were pretty transparent. Both staffs got together. We shared some information back and forth, watched film together.

“You look at what you're doing, and you want to see how other teams perceive you and how other teams are looking at you and how other teams are attacking you. And then it gives you a great perspective on how you move forward.”

Double duty

Even with a markedly expanded role expected for him in football, senior-to-be Torii Hunter continues to prolong his baseball dream — and with Kelly’s blessing.

“We need him and we’ll have him,” Kelly said of the player expected to be his No. 1 wide receiver this fall. “We’ve worked out a very good schedule. He has not been missing in action, and Torii is very realistic about the balance that needs to take place between football and baseball.”

The son of recently retired star outfielder Torii Hunter was drafted in the 36th round in 2013 by the Detroit Tigers. He only garnered one official at-bat last season, and has five so far in 14 games this season for the Irish (6-8), with two runs scored and his first (and only so far) collegiate hit.

“If there's a conflict on one practice for a four-game series or a three-game series, we'll make some opportunities available to him, but he'll be here,” Kelly said of the outfielder. “He knows he's a very important part of this offense, as well.”

Montelus to defense

Among the few position switches this spring is offensive guard John Montelus joining the crowd at interior defensive line.

The 6-foot-4, 310-pound senior-to-be has been a career backup on the offensive line to this point.

Staff shuffle

Kelly announced some promotions and hirings on his staff, including Mishawaka High grad and former Clay High assistant Pryce Tracy moving from an intern role to being a graduate assistant coach for the offense. Matt Mitchell was hired in to be an offensive analyst.

Harland Bower and Clay Bignell are the new defensive grad assistants, while Marty Biagi is the special teams analyst.

Former Buffalo head coach and longtime Kelly offensive collaborator Jeff Quinn will move from his role as offensive analyst to assistant strength and conditioning coach.

Numbers game

The five early-enrolled freshmen have their uniform numbers, and defensive end Daelin Hayes made the bold move of selecting former All-American linebacker Jaylon Smith’s old No. 9.

Other frosh uniform assignments are wide receiver Kevin Stepherson (29), safety Devin Studstill (13), safety Spencer Perry (31) and defensive end Khalid Kareem (53), who at 6-foot-4 is already up to 270 pounds.

ehansen@ndinsider.com

574-235-6112

Twitter: @EHansenNDI

Notre Dame's Doug Randolph during Notre Dame football practice on Thursday, Aug. 13, 2015, at Notre Dame in South Bend. (Tribune Photo/ROBERT FRANKLIN)