Notre Dame offensive practice notes 3-22

Mike Vorel
South Bend Tribune

SOUTH BEND — Kevin Stepherson went untouched.

That's particularly impressive, considering that the whole goal of the drill was to touch him. In Wednesday's practice, Notre Dame's first after spring break, the Irish defensive backs were challenged to tackle the wide receivers to the ground in an open field tackling drill. Stepherson, a sophomore wide receiver, made a quick cut inside, leaving sophomore safety Jalen Elliott grasping at air.

Other impressive wide receivers in Wednesday's tackling (or lack thereof) drill included sophomore Chase Claypool and junior Chris Finke. The defensive backs struggled to corral the Irish receivers throughout much of the drill, though junior safety Nicco Fertitta was lauded for a textbook tackle. 

In the Irish offense's tempo drill that kicked off practice, the starters were: junior quarterback Brandon Wimbush, junior running back Dexter Williams (though junior Josh Adams also worked with the starters in other drills), wide receivers Equanimeous St. Brown, Finke and Claypool, tight end Durham Smythe, and offensive linemen Mike McGlinchey (left tackle), Quenton Nelson (left guard), Sam Mustipher (center), Alex Bars (right guard) and Tommy Kraemer (right tackle).

This marked a triumphant moment for the ever-growing Claypool fan club, as the immensely athletic 6-foot-5, 224-pound wide receiver received his first starting reps (that we've noticed) of the spring. 

For the second consecutive practice with media access, sophomore quarterback Ian Book and sophomore wide receiver Stepherson worked with the third team. Senior Montgomery VanGorder again served as the No. 2 quarterback. Kelly has previously said that Stepherson's more modest place on the depth chart is mostly a mirage, since the sophomore is familiar with the X wide receiver position and the staff wants to give less experienced players opportunities to learn.

Junior tight end Alize Jones was also relegated to third-team work, behind Smythe and senior Nic Weishar.

The second-team offensive line on Wednesday consisted of left tackle Robert Hainsey, left guard Aaron Banks, center Tristen Hoge, right guard Trevor Ruhland and right tackle Liam Eichenberg. Wide receivers C.J. Sanders, Miles Boykin and Austin Webster and running back Tony Jones Jr. also contributed on the second team.

Notre Dame's next practice with media access will take place on Saturday.

Notre Dame's Tommy Kraemer and Liam Eichenberg (74) runs drills during practice, Wednesday, March 22, 2017, in South Bend. Tribune Photo/BECKY MALEWITZ