Notre Dame offense practice notes 8-1
CULVER — Kevin Stepherson leaped, reached his hand behind his helmet and snared a football out of the air.
That was the highlight of an up-and-down first day of fall practices for Stepherson — Notre Dame's 6-foot, 185-pound sophomore wide receiver — who showed off his trademark explosiveness but also inexplicably dropped several passes on a sunny Tuesday at Culver Academies.
Like Stepherson, Notre Dame's first practice of fall camp was marked by highs and lows.
Starting quarterback Brandon Wimbush — a 6-2, 228-pound junior — was a steady performer, proving accurate with most of his throws and decisive with many of his reads on Tuesday.
Surrounding Wimbush in Notre Dame's starting lineup was running back Josh Adams, wide receivers Equanimeous St. Brown, Chase Claypool and Cameron Smith, tight end Durham Smythe, left tackle Mike McGlinchey, left guard Quenton Nelson, center Sam Mustipher, right guard Alex Bars and right tackle Tommy Kraemer.
Notre Dame's second unit consisted of quarterback Ian Book, running back Dexter Williams, wide receivers Freddy Canteen, Miles Boykin and Chris Finke, tight end Alize Mack, left tackle Robert Hainsey, left guard Jimmy Byrne, center Trevor Ruhland, right guard Aaron Banks and right tackle Liam Eichenberg.
After practice, head coach Brian Kelly confirmed that a competition for the starting right tackle spot persists between Kraemer, Eichenberg and Hainsey. Kraemer was the designated starter on Tuesday, but the others will rotate in throughout the next several weeks.
Nelson — a 6-5, 330-pound senior — sat out part of the practice with back tightness as a precaution.
Mack, Finke, Williams and sophomore running back Tony Jones. Jr. all cycled in with the Irish starters as well.
Notre Dame's wide receivers consistently shredded the Irish defensive backs during one-on-one drills on Tuesday, though it should be noted those periods are typically designed to favor the offense. St. Brown, Claypool, Boykin, sophomore Javon McKinley and freshman Jafar Armstrong all snagged significant completions.
Though Armstrong — generously listed at 6-1, 214 pounds — lacks ideal size, the true freshman hauled in everything in his vicinity in his first practice at the FBS level. Fellow freshman wide receiver Michael Young also impressed in spurts.
Claypool, Smith, Stepherson and Young all produced highlights — as well as a few untimely drops.
But again, that's to be expected in the opening practice of a new season. The good comes with the bad.