Sunday, April 29, 2012

Four Fighting Irish players taken in NFL draft.

Michael Floyd
The Notre Dame Fighting Irish added more talent to the NFL professional ranks over the weekend, as four players were selected by teams in the NFL's annual draft.

Wide receiver Michael Floyd was selected in the first round by the Arizona Cardinals with the 13th overall pick.

Safety Harrison Smith, who also went in the first round, was picked 29th overall by the Minnesota Vikings.

Outside linebacker Darius Fleming and cornerback Robert Blanton also secured places in the camps within the professional ranks of the NFL, as they were selected by the San Francisco 49ers and the Minnestoa Vikings in the 5th round.

Floyd is Notre Dame's highest drafted player since defensive tackle Bryant Young was the seventh-overall selection by San Francisco in the 1994 and is the first Notre Dame wide receiver to be taken in the first round of the NFL Draft since Tim Brown in 1988.

 "I could not be happier for Michael and his family," Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly said. "I've said many times I have never coached a person as talented as Michael, and his selection tonight shows that. Michael's work ethic and passion for football are unparalleled and fans of the Cardinals will love the productivity he'll bring to Arizona's offense."

Floyd is the Notre Dame career record holder for receptions (271), receiving yards (2,686), receiving touchdowns (37), average yards receiving per game (85.7) and games with at least 100 receiving yards (17).

Floyd is expected to compete for a starting spot in Arizona immediately and will be the perfect compliment to the Cardinals All-Pro wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald.

Harrison Smith has an uncanny awareness for zone coverage and is expected to compete right off the bat within the Minnesota secondary. Smith is the earliest Fighting Irish defensive back selected since Jeff Burris was taken with the 27th pick in the 1994 draft by Buffalo.

"Harrison Smith is one of the best leaders I've ever had on any of my teams," Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly said. "He is an intelligent and instinctual player on the field and a true student of the game off the field. He'll be a great fit for Minnesota's defense and I can't wait to watch his long and successful pro career."

There was also good news for other Notre Dame players post-draft. Undrafted running back Jonas Gray announced on his Twitter account that he had signed a rookie free-agent contract with the Miami Dolphins.

Gray underwent reconstructive knee surgery in November, after a stellar breakout 2011 season for the Irish.

Offensive tackle Taylor Dever followed Jones with his announcement he had agreed to terms with the Dallas Cowboys. Defensive End Ethan Johnson also agreed to a deal with Kansas City.

Offensive guard Trevor Robinson, kicker David Ruffer and Gary Gray are among the other undrafted ND players also hoping to catch on as rookie free agents.

 About the Author:
Jason O'Mahony is Ireland's biggest fan of Notre Dame Football and writer for

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Golson shines in annual spring ball game.

Redshirt Freshman Everett Golson

The question on the lips of every Notre Dame fan across the length and breath of the United States this season is "Who will be our starting QB?". Well if the performance of the QB's at Notre Dames 83rd annual spring game was to be used as a yardstick....pack it up and hand it to Everett Golson.

The redshirt freshman out of  Mertyle Beach SC, led a very impressive campaign which saw Gold triumph over Blue 42-31 in a fine fresh day in South Bend, Indiana.

Golson was 11-15-0-120 and a brace of scores in front of 31,582 spectators. Coming out of spring camp, the insiders of the South Bend outfit had returning starter Tommy Rees ahead in the QB battle, with Andrew Hendrix at the backup position. With Golson's performance in this game, the Irish fans are chomping at the bit for Kelly to install the best dual threat QB on the roster in time of the Fighting Irish's season opener against Navy on September 1, in Dublin Ireland.

Entering the game, Fighting Irish head coach Brian Kelly's focus was on improving the QB position which had accounted for 23 of the 29 Irish Turnovers last season and lead to an appalling turnover ratio of minus 15.

There was little or no improvement in this department as the Irish turned turned the ball over a total of SIX times. Of course the, this was not the only repeat offender on this day. Game management, a constant hiccup of Brian Kelly and his staff last season, reared it's ugly head again as the Irish were called for delay of game after gaining possession from back to back turnovers.

It most certainly was not all doom and gloom. The Fighting Irish showed flashes of brilliance from the skill set positions on offense. Aside from the exciting play exhibited by Golson, George Atkinson III carried 15-124 but let two option pitches get away from him. GA3 finished the game with 18 touches for 178 total yards. However, there are some glaring issues with his carrying style in that it he has what I like to refer to as Barberitits

 Tiki Barber (RB ex-NYG) was a great back, but had sever issues in fumbling the ball early in his career because he did not cover it up correctly. After some coaching in the mechanics involved in carrying, he rarely fumbled. GA3 carries the ball very similar to Barber in his fumbling days. GA3 needs to tuck in his carrying elbow and secure the ball proper to his chest while running. Otherwise it WILL be stripped if he continues to carry it away from his body.

Both Theo Riddick and Cierre Wood showed some cuts and dukes that would break the ankles of an elephant. All-American tight end Tyler Eiffert was used primarily from the wideout position and looked very impressive against undersized CB's.

Andrew Hendrix and Tommy Rees had below par days for experienced QB's. Rees still stares down the primary target after the snap and bad things happen when he attempts to extend the play beyond it's design, something he should have learned about from the coaching staff this season.

Some impressive defensive play was on display also, with Manti T'eo in for only one possesion, LB Ishaq Williams showed some flashes of brilliance at the drop LB position and came up with a pick. DT Sheldon Day showed some very good awareness for a freshman also by batting down several balls at the line of scrimmage.

Kelly handed the keys over to true freshman Gunner Keil late in the game and the homegrown Indiana native was like a kid possessed in cleats by way of taking on defenders helmet to helmet. I can only pray he grows out of that habit for his own well being.

Questions still surround the defensive secondary in my opinion. They did not look overly impressive to me in the spring game.....lots of room to improve before the season opener.

Highlights of the Blue & Gold game 2012

About the Author:
Jason O'Mahony is Ireland's biggest fan of Notre Dame Football and writer for

Friday, April 20, 2012

Blue & Gold Special

2011 Blue & Gold Game

Where: Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend, Ind.
When: Saturday, April 21, 1:30 p.m. ET
Watch: NBC Sports Network
Live Stream: 

Brian Kelly's Fighting Irish of Notre Dame take to the field on Saturday 21st April to contest in the annual spring ball contest, more commonly know to the Irish faithful as the annual Blue & Gold game.

This will be the very first action that most Notre Dame fans would have witnessed the team in action since the heart breaking loss in the Champs Sports Bowl in early January. In that game the Florida State Seminoles rallied in the fourth quarter to defeat the Fighting Irish 18-14.

In an off season packed with as much drama as you'd witness in an action packed series of Desperate Housewives, the Fighting Irish football team are back in action this weekend.

Notre Dame has made headlines a few times this off-season which most football fans could relate to that old adage and classic Clint Eastwood movie;
The Good—RB Amir Carlisle transfer from USC and eligible to participate this year, along with Gunner Kiel's commitment who was ranked the number one QB in the nation, and an overall top-10 recruiting class.
The Bad-Deontay Greenberry recruiting miss, Tee Shepard quitting the school.
The Ugly-Freshman All-American, Aaron Lynch transfer and the whole social media fiasco that ensued thereafter.

The spring game is a chance for them to give fans some hope entering the 2012 season. The Irish always enter the season with heightened expectations and this year there is no room for error—on the players' part and the coaches' part.

There will be some hotly contested jockeying for position, as there are some key positional battles up for grabs. No more perhaps more closely contested as that of the QB position. Returning starter Tommy Rees will have a huge advantage in this category. Ress is leading the pack in spring ball but is the victim of Irish fans for his one-dimensional game and tendencies for untimely turnovers.

Rees is under pressure though; Returning Sophomore and Med student Andrew Hendrix showed some brilliant flashes in limited game time last year, but is know for allowing mental errors get the better of him on a consistent basis.

Everett Golson's projected brilliance has led to a strange camp. Widely regarded as the next Tony Rice and perhaps beyond, Golson found himself in trouble with the coaching staff which resulted in him having to sit out practice due to arriving late. He has also showed a tendency to be uncomfortable in taking the snap from under center.

Gunner Kiel, the nations top QB recruit for the Irish, will probably hold a clip board for the season and is expected to be redshirted.

Other notable positions to watch out of interest include the WR, refilling the void left by All-American Michael Floyd, DL and in particularly replacing the pass rushing skills that were left when Aaron Lynch quit on the team to be with his girlfriend.

Perhaps the position that is of most concern for the Irish is the defensive secondary. Bennet Jackson, Lo Wood, Cam McDaniel, Jamoris Slaughter, Jalen Brown and and Austin Collingsworth will really have to step up their game this season.

About the Author:
Jason O'Mahony is Ireland's biggest fan of Notre Dame Football and writer for

Where Are They Now?

It's always interesting to follow the stars of Notre Dame when they move to the next level. Some expand their fame, and others shrink – but it can be just as fun to see how they do when their playing days are over.

Being part of the most storied program in college football can open some incredible doors, but it also can leave a former player with a false sense of security, and feeling of abandonment when the adulation recedes.

Some stars have thrived, and others have struggled – both on the field and off. Success at Notre Dame comes with no guarantees, except that expectations are high.

Here is where five former Irish stars are now:

Joe Montana, 55, won a national championship with Notre Dame (1977) and four Super Bowl titles with the San Francisco 49ers, retiring to the Pro Football Hall of Fame as one of the most storied quarterbacks in football. Legendary for his knack for come-from-behind victories, he plays the game vicariously today through his two sons, both quarterbacks – Nick Montana at the University of Washington and Nathaniel Montana at the University of Montana. Joe and his wife sold off their $35 million horse ranch in Northern California and relocated recently to downtown San Francisco, to be closer to two daughters and provide the flexibility to see his sons play.  Although he has dabbled in sports television as a football analyst, Montana spends much of his time and effort in outside business ventures, including commercial development in the San Francisco area.

Tim Brown, 45, finished his Notre Dame career with a school-record 5,024 all-purpose yards and twice was named to the College Football All-American team, becoming the first wide receiver to win the coveted Heisman Trophy.  He followed that success with a stellar career – 17 years – in the NFL. He has followed up with some equally impressive numbers away from the field. Since 1995, Brown has been the National Chairman for Athletes and Entertainers for Kids, an organization that has helped five million children through educational and mentoring program. He moved into the media business, joining ESPN as a  college football analyst on the new 3D Network.  He also has been a hit as the co-host on FSN Pro Football Preview show in Los Angeles. Brown still hosts an annual Charity Golf Classic to benefit the 9-1-1 For Kids organization.  He remains active with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and spends considerable time talking with groups about his Christian faith. He lives with his wife and four children in Cedar Hill, Texas.

Raghib "Rocket" Ismail, 42, was one of college football's most dynamic playmakers, an electrifying kick returner who finished his college career as runner-up for the 1990 Heisman Trophy. Since then, however, his business acumen has been less than All-American. Ismail's finances imploded after a series of bad investments. He made more than $18 million in a 10-year professional career that included both the Canadian Football League and the National Football League, but he lost much of it and is in considerable debt. His failed business ventures have included a cosmetics procedure that allowed skin to absorb oxygen; nationwide phone card dispensers; and tourist shops that sold framed calligraphy. His latest venture is mouthguards designed to help performance on the field. He and his wife live with their four children in Dallas.

Autry Denson, 36, is still the Irish's all-time leading rusher (4,448 yards, 46 touchdowns). After leaving the Fighting Irish in 1999, Denson played four seasons in the National Football League – with the Dolphins, Bears and Colts – and one season in the Canadian Football League with the Montreal Alouettes, where he rushed for 772 yards and nine touchdowns. Although Denson stopped playing football several years ago, he hasn't lost his love of the game, and now he has a promising coaching career. He served as the head football coach in 2010 at John Paul II High School, a small, private institution in Boca Raton, Florida, not far from where he first found fame as a high school star in Fort Lauderdale. He left John Paul after one season to become an assistant coach at Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, Florida. He expects to be there again in 2012, lending his expertise to a bevy of running backs.

Darius Walker, 27, owns the Notre Dame record for most receptions by a running back in one season (56) and in a career (109). He is fourth on Notre Dame's all-time career rushing list (3,249), despite playing for just three seasons. He rushed for more than 100 yards in a game 15 times. He finished his college career in the Sugar Bowl at the end of the 2006 season when he rushed for 128 yards in a 41-14 loss to the LSU Tigers. He left school after his junior season, but his professional football career was a short and unproductive one, playing parts of just three seasons with the Houston Texans, St. Louis Rams, Denver Broncos and Dallas Cowboys. Now Walker has transitioned from football into the media business, serving as a radio talk show host, television analyst and a sideline reporter for the Mountain West Sports Network.