Look who's at left guard for Notre Dame: Jarrett Patterson
SOUTH BEND – Four months after downplaying the possibility due to timing issues, Notre Dame offensive line guru Harry Hiestand found a way to move All-America candidate Jarrett Patterson from center to left guard after all.
Fully recovered from early March surgery to repair a torn pectoral muscle on the left side of his chest, Patterson worked exclusively at left guard on Friday as the Irish opened August training camp. Redshirt junior Zeke Correll, who filled in at center this spring, remained the first-team center until heat exhaustion ended his practice a few periods early.
Even when Correll went out, it was redshirt freshman Pat Coogan that jumped in as the first-team center while Patterson (6-foot-4, 310 pounds) remained at guard. Correll, a Cincinnati product who stands 6-3 and 308 pounds, opened last season as the starting left guard but gave way after five games to Andrew Kristofic.
“You’ve got to look at that unit in terms of all five, not as individual pieces,” Notre Dame coach Marcus Freeman said. “J-Patt being at guard, we feel like, gives those five guys up front the best chance to be successful.”
Patterson, signed originally as a left tackle in 2018 out of Laguna Hills, Calif., has started at center in 34 of Notre Dame’s last 38 games. Patterson, a graduate who spurned NFL interest to play another season, missed the final four games in 2020 after suffering a Lisfranc fracture in his foot.
Correll spelled him for two of those games in 2020.
Midway through spring practice, Hiestand expressed disappointment at not being able to see Patterson work at guard.
“I would want to get him some guard work, just for him personally, but it would’ve been this spring,” Hiestand said. “But not now. We’ll be right up against it, getting him ready.”
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Retirement for Joey Tanona
Freshman offensive lineman Joey Tanona, who suffered a concussion in a serious car accident during the spring, has decided to retire from football.
Tanona, a four-star recruit from Zionsville, Ind., who enrolled in January, will remain on campus and have a chance to earn his bachelor’s degree, Freeman said.
“After his accident, he kept trying to come back,” Freeman said. “Mentally and physically (he) was not in a place that he was ready to play football. He’s in good spirits.”
Tanona accepted well wishes during a June 12 appearance at a youth football clinic at Saint Joseph High School.
“It happens,” Tanona said before working with area kids for 90 minutes.
According to Hiestand’s April account, the 6-foot-5, 284-pound Tanona was sleeping in the passenger seat of a vehicle driven by one of his two sisters when a driver ran through a red light and crashed into Tanona’s vehicle.
“Really freak thing – scary,” Hiestand said on April 7. “It’s a blessing that he’s just dealing with what he’s dealing with and it wasn’t worse. It was a terrible accident. I saw a picture of the car. It was terrible.”
Tanona, who led Zionsville to a state runner-up finish last fall, was rated by ESPN.com as the fourth-best player from Indiana in the 2022 recruiting class and was rated the No. 16 offensive tackle in the country by 247Sports.com.
It's the humidity
Blake Fisher, the redshirt freshman expected to start at right tackle, joined Correll on the sideline near the end of Friday’s practice.
Fisher, who made it back for the Fiesta Bowl after knee surgery following the season-opening loss at Florida State, spent multiple periods on one knee while being tended to by team trainers. Fisher briefly rejoined drills for a two-minute offense period, but soon removed his helmet and pads and took mental repetitions.
Freshman linebacker Junior Tuihalamaka, getting extra repetitions in a unit where projected starter Marist Luifau has a limited workload for precautionary reasons, also ended up in the medical tent with heat-related issues near the end of the two-hour, 15-minute practice.
“There’s a couple guys that couldn’t finish practice,” Freeman said. “We have to get in a position where our guys aren’t being pulled from practice. We have to condition our body.”
Logan Diggs working his way back
Freeman pronounced three players, all coming off surgery, out for the Sept. 3 season opener at Ohio State.
Running back Jadarian Price (Achilles), tight end Mitchell Evans (foot) and wide receiver Joe Wilkins Jr. (foot) will miss the opener. All three rode the exercise bike on the sideline Friday.
The prognosis appears more encouraging for sophomore running back Logan Diggs, coming off April 29 surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder. Diggs, who rushed for 230 yards and three touchdowns last season, wore a red jersey but took part in non-contact drills.
Diggs even made a nice one-hand grab of an errant pass in the flat during passing drills.
In late June, Freeman soft-pedaled the timeline for Diggs. Labrum surgeries typically carry a rehab period of 4-6 months.
“The expectation for Diggs right now is September,” Freeman told NDInsider.com on June 27. “What I don’t want is for all of a sudden him or anybody else to feel pressure to rush him back. That’s doing a disservice to the kid. When his body and our training staff says he’s ready to go, he’s ready to go.”
Who returns punts?
June enrollee Gi’Bran Payne, released from his Indiana commitment in the Class of 2023, joined Northwestern transfer Brandon Joseph and holdovers Matt Salerno and Chris Tyree in punt return drills on Day 1.
Kyren Williams, a fifth-round draft choice of the Rams in April, handled the bulk of punt return chores last season (14 returns, 10.8-yard average) while the sure-handed Salerno led the way in 2020 with 10 returns for a 4.5-yard average.
Joseph, a preseason All-American at safety, averaged 28.5 yards on just four returns last season for the Wildcats. But those came against Indiana State and Rutgers during the first half of the season.
“The biggest thing is you need somebody back there that you can count on,” Freeman said. “Somebody that is very confident, that is going to catch the ball in traffic. If he can make a play and make a first down, that’s an added bonus.”
Mike Berardino covers Notre Dame football for NDInsider.com and the South Bend Tribune. Follow him on Twitter @MikeBerardino.