Notre Dame Fighting Irish head football coach Brian Kelly has holes to fill in key positions this spring. The Irish have a number of top players graduating and that could give Kelly a changing spring.
The departures of Cierre Wood and Theo Riddick to the NFL one would think that running back might be one the top of Kelly’s list.Wood and Riddick were great players for the Irish and their shoes will not be easily filled. Since his arrival Kelly has focused on adding depth to the Notre Dame roster and that focus has paid off.
George Atkinson III worked his way onto the field earning reps not only in practice but in games. Atkinson displayed his speed in the opening game against Navy rushing for 99 yards and two touchdowns. One of the touchdowns, Atkinson showed his speed racing 56 yards for the touchdown.
That was not the only demonstration of Atkinson showing off of his speed. Atkinson had a similar run when the Irish faced the rival Miami Hurricanes. Atkinson took a pitch and raced outside and none of the Hurricanes touched him on his way for a 55 yard touchdown score. Atkinson finished the season with 360 yards and five touchdowns playing in a crowded backfield with two future NFL players in Wood and Riddick.
Atkinson is not the only weapon at running back Kelly will have at his disposal this spring. Cam McDaniel who carried the ball 11 times for 55 yards and a touchdown against Miami also returns in the Irish backfield.
Amir Carlisle transferred from USC and was supposed to be in rotation last season with Wood, Riddick and Atkinson. Carlisle broke his ankle and was lost for the season. Carlisle because of his size of 5-10 and 185 lbs. could remind Notre Dame fans of Riddick. Carlisle also has stated to coaches that he has no problem playing as a slot receiver to help the team and get more opportunities to get on the field.
Notre Dame did not forget to continue to build the backfield with recruits. Kelly is bringing a form of thunder and lightning to the Irish this fall. Greg Bryant is the thunder part of the combination being a powerful runner. Bryant should remind Irish fans of Robert Hughes bringing a powerful running attack to Notre Dame. Bryant will not show away from contact and will be able to wear defenses down. The lightning is Tarean Folston who brings speed and quickness to compliment Bryant’s power running for a great one two punch for the Irish backfield for years to come.
Kelly has a number of possibilities at running back for the upcoming season and with the play-makers Notre Dame has coming in this fall great things should be expected from the backfield in 2013.