Notre Dame defense practice notes 3-23-16

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

SOUTH BEND — Notre Dame was able to take in the sunrise as the Irish practiced outside for session No. 5 of spring football Wednesday.

Media members were able to take in the start of Wednesday’s practice, and we were joined by three noteworthy recruits. Four-star offensive lineman Robert Hainsey, a junior from Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy, four-star defensive tackle Greg Rogers, a junior from Las Vegas Arbor View, and four-star defensive back Houston Griffith, a sophomore from Chicago Mount Carmel, were all in attendance.

Hainsey started his visit on Tuesday with an offer from the Irish. The other two prospects have yet to report Notre Dame offers.

As for on the field, Notre Dame’s defense strayed from its typical tempo drill to start practice. Instead of the defense lining up in 11-man units, the players were split into position-specific drills. The switch prevented a look at the No. 1 and No. 2 units for the day, but a rough sketch at the starters could be drawn from the various parts of practice viewed by media.

Up front, the Irish look to be sticking with a defensive line with Isaac Rochell and Andrew Trumbetti at defensive end and Daniel Cage and Jerry Tillery at defensive tackle. The linebackers lined up with James Onwualu (Sam), Nyles Morgan (Mike) and Asmar Bilal (Will). Safeties Drue Tranquill and Max Redfield were paired together. Cornerbacks Cole Luke, Devin Butler and Shaun Crawford rotated as a No. 1 group.

The practice, which was in full pads, was naturally more physical than the opening practice from a week ago. Everyone expected to be dressed for Notre Dame’s defense did so. Even freshman defensive end Daelin Hayes, who Brian Kelly said might not take contact this spring, was working through drills in full pads.

The front seven of Notre Dame’s defense faced off against Notre Dame’s running backs and offensive line in a split line drill. Two or three offensive linemen and one tight end would try to clear a path for the running backs against two defensive linemen and one linebacker. The drill provided plenty of contact and competition and was the highlight of the media viewing session.

Standing out with impressive plays were Jay Hayes and Jarron Jones. Hayes manhandled tight end Nic Weishar and took him to the ground on one play. Later Jones blew up offensive guard Jimmy Byrne to disrupt a play.

Walk-on linebacker Devyn Spruell showed good awareness by quickly scooping up a fumbled exchange from quarterback DeShone Kizer.

tjames@ndinsider.com

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Twitter: @TJamesNDI

Notre Dame defensive tackle Jarron Jones, right, and Lincoln Feist during Notre Dame spring football practice on Wednesday, March 16, 2016, inside the Guglielmino Athletics Complex at Notre Dame in South Bend. Tribune Photo/ROBERT FRANKLIN