Quick Hits: Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly's 2017 introductory press conference
Well, folks, the wait is finally over. A day before Notre Dame kicks off fall camp, and a little more than a month before the Irish host Temple in their season opener on Sept. 2, eighth-year head coach Brian Kelly met the media on Monday to preview the 2017 season.
Here are a few highlights from Kelly's address.
-- Kelly opened Monday's press conference by emphasizing Notre Dame's mission: to graduate all of its players and win a national championship. "We know what the bar is," he said.
-- Senior nose tackle Daniel Cage will not play this season, Kelly confirmed. Cage is continuing to battle with concussion issues and a knee injury. He will reevaluate his playing career after the season, Kelly said.
-- According to Kelly, the NCAA reported on Friday that Notre Dame should get a decision about sophomore safety and Navy transfer Aloha Gilman's eligibility status in the near future.
-- Kelly said that junior nose guard Jerry Tillery -- who had several unsportsmanlike incidents during last season's loss at USC -- has fulfilled counseling and community service obligations this offseason. Tillery will not be suspended to start the 2017 season.
-- Kelly said that his primary priority in hiring an offensive coordinator was finding someone to whom he could "fully turn over the play calling." He believes he found that person in Chip Long.
-- Junior placekicker Justin Yoon, who missed spring practices with an injury, is fully healthy heading into fall camp, Kelly said.
-- Kelly, on how the 4-8 season affected him: "For me, there was a lot of growth as a head coach after 26 years."
-- Kelly said that he's most pleased with his team's strength and conditioning aspect in two areas: conditioning and explosiveness.
-- On an injury front, Kelly said that junior cornerback Shaun Crawford is fully cleared heading into fall camp. Junior defensive tackle Elijah Taylor (foot) is 10 days to two weeks from being all the way back.
-- Kelly named a slew of emerging leaders, including: cornerback Nick Watkins, center Sam Mustipher, quarterback Brandon Wimbush, running back Dexter Williams, safety Nick Coleman and defensive end Daelin Hayes.
-- What's the biggest thing Kelly learned from the 4-8 season? "I focused way too much on production and not the process itself."
-- What will be the biggest difference in the Irish defense this season, according to Kelly? "Fundamentals, fundamentals, fundamentals."
-- Kelly said that while there will not be a quarterback competition in fall camp, he still expects there to be plenty of competition at the position. "We know the No. 1 quarterback is Brandon Wimbush," Kelly said.
-- Kelly says he can't control TV showing three-second snippets of him loudly engaging with a player on the sidelines, but that's not his day-to-day demeanor. "My players know who I am."