Notre Dame offensive practice notes 4-19

Mike Vorel
South Bend Tribune

SOUTH BEND — Brandon Wimbush didn't need two minutes.

On the opening play of Notre Dame's 11-on-11 two-minute drill on Wednesday, the junior Irish quarterback took a shotgun snap, eluded pressure and took off into the open field, galloping 60 yards into the end zone as his teammates cheered behind him.

The 6-foot-2, 226-pound quarterback also showed off a strong right arm in Notre Dame's 13th practice of the spring, displaying impressive accuracy while spreading the football to open receivers. Wimbush's lone blemish was a red zone interception by freshman safety Isaiah Robertson near the end of practice.

The starting offensive linemen tasked with protecting Wimbush on Wednesday were left tackle Mike McGlinchey, left guard Quenton Nelson, center Sam Mustipher, right guard Alex Bars and right tackle Tommy Kraemer. Junior Josh Adams was the starting running back, while wide receivers Equanimeous St. Brown, Chase Claypool and C.J. Sanders also got starting reps.

Tight ends Durham Smythe and Alize Jones worked in with the top unit on Wednesday, as did sophomore Tony Jones Jr. in two-back sets. Junior wide receiver Miles Boykin occasionally earned first team reps, alongside fellow large targets Claypool and St. Brown.

Junior wide receiver Chris Finke was perhaps Notre Dame's most consistent offensive performer on Wednesday, creating repeated separation against defensive backs and catching everything in his vicinity. He also practiced returning punts, as did Sanders.

Boykin continued his upward trajectory as well, pulling in a pair of difficult sideline catches in 11-on-11 drills. Jones Jr. broke free for a long touchdown in which he was initially bottled up, then cut outside into the open field.

Early enrollee tight end Brock Wright had a highlight in a red zone 11-on-11 drill, lining up as a fullback — yes, a fullback — as Wimbush took a snap from under center — yes, under center — before rolling out and hauling in a play-action pass for a touchdown. Fellow 2017 tight end signee Cole Kmet, who attended practice with his family, watched from the sideline. 

As for the injury report, junior offensive lineman Trevor Ruhland watched Wednesday's practice from the stationary bike. Sophomore wide receiver Javon Mckinley, who is continuing to recover from a broken fibula, wore a red no-contact jersey at times but participated in most drills.

Sophomore wide receiver Kevin Stepherson, who has been bothered by a hamstring injury recently, missed Wednesday's practice for what head coach Brian Kelly later called a "personal matter."

Notre Dame's Brandon Wimbush runs a drill during practice, Friday, March 31, 2017, in South Bend. Tribune Photo/BECKY MALEWITZ