Notebook: Notre Dame football roster 'set' after recent transfer shuffle

Mike Vorel
South Bend Tribune

BRIDGMAN, Mich. — Standing next to his wife and in front of a semi-circle of cameras and digital recorders under a canopy at Lost Dunes Golf Club, Brian Kelly revealed the secret for a successful day on the links:

Let Paqui win.

In reality, though, Monday’s success had nothing to do with Brian or Paqui Kelly’s handicap. The Kelly Cares Foundation’s third annual golf invitational was designed, in part, to raise money for the Lou Holtz Foundation and the Ara Parseghian Medical Research Fund. Brian and Paqui also presented each organization with a $10,000 check.

“Our foundation is unique, in the fact that one of our goals is to help other (foundations),” Paqui Kelly said. “The reality is that there’s a lot of people out there that need help and our ability to raise money and awareness is all part of that.”

Nearly a decade after it was founded in 2008, the Kelly Cares Foundation has donated more than $3.5 million to local, national and global causes.

Brian and Paqui have shown no signs of slowing down.

“If you look at any foundation, it’s about, what is it that you’re trying to accomplish?” Brian Kelly said. “When you’re talking about health, those are personal things. Everybody has somebody that has been touched with, in this particular case, cancer. That’s something you always can be growing and helping people with.”

Added Paqui Kelly: “Health and education problems are not going to go away.”

The roster shuffle

According to Brian Kelly, Notre Dame’s game of musical chairs is finally over.

Offensive linemen Tristen Hoge and Parker Boudreaux have transferred out of the program, while tight end Tyler Luatua has retired due to a medical disability.

Meanwhile, graduate student wide receivers Freddy Canteen and Cameron Smith, as well as former Navy safety Alohi Gilman, have transferred in.

“Really, the speed factor was No. 1. And No. 2 was the maturity level,” Kelly said of adding Smith and Canteen.

“We wanted to add two more really mature players. We’ve got some young players. We wanted mature mentors. At times last year one of the issues was maturity, attention to detail, good habits. With Freddy and Cam we’ve got two guys that are very mature guys, that are good role models for some young players. From a skill set standpoint, there’s the speed element where (Smith) can really get over the top of defenses.”

Smith — a 6-foot, 185-pound receiver from Coppell, Texas — caught 60 passes for 908 yards and six touchdowns in four seasons at Arizona State. He missed the 2015 season with an injury, which opened the door for a graduate transfer.

Last winter, Notre Dame offensive lineman Colin McGovern made a similar choice.

Now, he’ll have to stick by it.

The 6-foot-5, 310-pound offensive lineman — who played in 11 games at right guard last season and made eight starts — was slated to make a graduate transfer to Virginia, but Cavaliers head coach Bronco Mendenhall announced last week that McGovern will not join the program after all.

One thing is certain: he won’t be returning to his alma mater.

“We think that our roster is set as it stands right now,” Kelly said. “We don’t know what the circumstances are surrounding that (McGovern situation). He’s not coming back to Notre Dame.”

Facility upgrades

The Campus Crossroads construction in and around Notre Dame Stadium remains a work in progress.

But how will those renovations affect the tradition-rich Irish locker room?

“The stadium is a one-time-a-week situation, so what you really need is functionality, and it really needs to blend into the iconic feel,” Kelly said. “You don’t want to lose that Knute Rockne, Leahy, Parseghian, Holtz feel in that locker room. So you’re not going to reinvent anything in that locker room.

“It’s when we get to expanding the Gug and the indoor (practice facility) that we’ll try to include a little bit more amenities, if you will, for our football team. That’s where we’ll try to accommodate them in some areas, where it gets them a little bit more comfortable.”

When construction on a Guglielmino Athletics Complex expansion does begin, Kelly says the focus will be primarily on two areas: the training table and academics.

“We need more room and space for feeding our players,” Kelly said. “No. 2: academics. We need dedicated space for academics. Those are really the most important, and an expanded locker room. (We need) a new locker room facility that allows them a little bit more space.

“It’s really a focus on the players and the needs that the players have in that facility.”

But what about the possibility of a nine-hole miniature golf course, like the one recently installed inside Clemson’s behemoth of a football facility?

“We don’t really need that, to be quite frank,” Kelly said. “That’s not what our mission is anyways. Our philosophy is really about community.”

Injury update

Notre Dame has avoided unwanted, unforeseen injuries thus far this summer, Kelly said.

Junior defensive tackle Elijah Taylor — who missed the majority of spring practices with a Lisfranc fracture in his left foot — is roughly a week behind schedule in his rehab but is still expected to be available when fall camp opens on Aug. 1.

“He had a lot of work to do at the end of the year with academics and that slowed up his rehab a little bit,” Kelly said of the 6-3, 280-pound defensive lineman. “But he’s going to get back in time to be able to compete in camp.”

Kelly added that freshman running back C.J. Holmes (shoulder) is progressing nicely and junior kicker Justin Yoon (leg) has begun kicking after sitting out the spring.

“We expect (Yoon) to not have any issues,” Kelly said.


Twitter: @mikevorel

Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly looks on during the Blue-Gold Game on Saturday, April 22, 2017. (Tribune Photo/ROBERT FRANKLIN)