Notebook: Concussion sidelines Notre Dame defensive tackle Jerry Tillery

Eric Hansen
South Bend Tribune

SOUTH BEND — If all goes well, Notre Dame senior defensive lineman Jerry Tillery will be back practicing on Tuesday.

And things had been going well this spring — very well, in defensive line coach Mike Elston’s estimation. That is until the 6-foot-7, 299-pounder suffered a concussion on Tuesday.

Head coach Brian Kelly said Saturday, after practice No. 5 of 15 this spring, that Tillery remains in concussion protocol but is progressing.

“He led with his helmet and not with his hands,” Kelly explained of how the injury occurred.

In the two and a half practices Tillery has been an active part of, though, he has shown a knack for his new position, moving from nose guard to defensive tackle.

“It’s a more natural position for him,” Elston said of ND’s top tackler in 2017 among defensive linemen with 56. “It will serve him well.

“And on third down stuff, he’ll move out even further to like (a defensive end). He’s a really good pass-rusher, but he’s not a really good pass rusher when he’s zeroed up on the center. We’ll see what he brings to the table.”

Tillery and linebacker Te’von Coney both strongly considered wading into the draft pool as early entries after last season before opting in January to return for their senior seasons.

“I challenged Jerry to make sure that when he comes back, that people aren’t looking at him and wondering, ‘Did he come back for himself or did he come back for the team?’” Elston said “And he’s all in. Awesome. Awesome. Jerry’s in it for the team.”

Alabama series afoot?

Notre Dame and Alabama are in negotiations to schedule a home-and-home football series, according to a report by Aaron Suttles of the Tuscaloosa (Ala.) News.

If the series does come to pass, the games wouldn’t take place into well into the next decade, according to the report.

The two teams have met seven times, with the Irish leading the series 5-2. Three of the seven games have come in postseason play, including the most recent meeting — a 42-14 Tide rout of the Irish in the BCS National Championship Game to cap the 2012 season.

Until Georgia visited Notre Dame Stadium last September, the Irish hadn’t played an SEC team at home since 2005, against Tennessee.

Vanderbilt continues the new SEC trend, when the Commodores come to visit. The Irish have future home-and-homes scheduled with Arkansas and Texas A&M of the SEC.

“As our football schedules evolved with the start of our Atlantic Coast Conference competition in 2014, we had future games slated with top-drawer opponents in virtually all the major conferences," ND athletic director Jack Swarbrick said back when the Georgia series was originally scheduled.

"One exception was the Southeastern Conference, so we are pleased now to be able to check that box.”

Faces in the crowd

Former All-America tackle Mike McGlinchey was at Notre Dame football practice on Saturday — again.

He’ll likely be a fixture throughout the 15 spring sessions, since he has determined that he’ll continue his pre-NFL Draft workouts on the ND campus.

“I’m giving the reins back to Matt Balis,” McGlinchey said of ND’s director of football performance.

Also taking in practice were former Irish linebacker Nyles Morgan and former ND/Florida quarterback Malik Zaire, both of whom participated in ND’s Pro Day on Thursday.

Notre Dame’s Jerry Tillery (99) celebrates with Andrew Trumbetti (98) during ND's 49-14 waxing of USC, Oct. 21 at Notre Dame Stadium. (Tribune Photo/MICHAEL CATERINA)