SOUTH BEND – Notre Dame football coach Brian Kelly has spent the past four recruiting classes building the depth of his program and when injuries occur – and they will occur in this sport – that depth can pay dividends.
On Wednesday, it was announced that a couple of Fighting Irish players suffered injuries and in the case of one, will miss the entire 2013 regular season.
Sophomore running back Amir Carlisle suffered a broken collarbone and will miss about four weeks, while sophomore defensive end Chase Hounshell reinjured his shoulder and will miss all of next season.
“Chase got into a position in a live situation and it was one of those crazy things,” Kelly said.
Hounshell missed all but one game last fall after suffering the exact same injury, and Kelly felt terribly for him after he had worked so hard to return to the field.
“He was doing such a great job,” Kelly said. “He had great strength. I’m just very disappointed for him because he had worked so hard to get back.”
Hounshell’s situation is very similar to Carlisle’s.
The running back had transferred to Notre Dame from USC a year ago, but got injured in training camp and never played a down last season. He was expected to provide depth at running back and on special teams this spring. Kelly expects Carlisle to return following the spring season.
“Amir is about four weeks until we get him cleared for full activities,” Kelly said. “It’s a minor setback. Amir has had a great spring. He’ll be a very important player for us in the fall.”
Robinson is rising
Corey Robinson decided to enroll at Notre Dame in January in order to help get a head start on his collegiate career after being a late bloomer in the sport.
The son of former NBA star David Robinson wasn’t a heralded recruit, but that hasn’t stopped him from making a positive impression on Kelly and the Irish coaches.
“Corey continues to impress us,” Kelly said. “He catches everything in his area code. We’ve just got to get him stronger.”
Manti is still the man
Former Irish All-American linebacker Manti Te’o performed well at Notre Dame’s Pro Day on Tuesday by running a much faster 40-yard dash time (4.69) than he did a month ago at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis (4.82). That performance has helped silence some of the criticism by analysts leading up to next month’s NFL Draft. However, Kelly wasn’t swayed one way or the other in his assessment of Te’o after the event.
“I’ve always felt, when all was said and done,” Kelly said, “on the first play from scrimmage, Manti was going to be one of the (starting) 11. Because he has leadership ability, he’s got skill, and he’s got character. Those three things, I think, always trump whether you run a 4.7 or a 4.8.”