Rachel Terlep
Rachel Terlep
Notre Dame beat writer Rachel Terlep offers scribbles and stories about Fighting Irish sports.

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Notre Dame newcomers load defensive depth chart

A handful of young players have earned spots in Notre Dame’s defensive two-deep.

Posted on Aug. 14, 2014 at 1:58 p.m.

Everett Golson officially being named Notre Dame’s starting quarterback may have been the big news of Wednesday, Aug. 13, but it wasn’t the most surprising.

Head coach Brian Kelly announced several other personnel updates Wednesday, 17 days before the Irish host Rice in their season opener.

Freshman Andrew Trumbetti has earned a starting defensive end job over junior Romeo Okwara at this point in camp, Kelly said. Trumbetti enrolled in January and participated in the Blue-Gold scrimmage in April.

“He’s really separated himself,” Kelly said. “Sometimes I don’t talk about him enough because I sometimes forget he’s a freshman. He’s almost separated himself from this freshman class.

“We think that he’s got a huge upside for us in so many areas that sometimes I don’t talk about him enough. Great motor, physical, smart, he does all the things we want him to do.”

If Trumbetti starts against Rice Aug. 30, he will be the first freshman defensive lineman to start a Notre Dame season opener since Anthony Weaver in 1998.

Trumbetti will join juniors Ishaq Williams and Sheldon Day on the starting defensive line. Freshman Jonathan Bonner, who was recruited as a linebacker but bulked up to become a defensive end, was announced as Day’s backup.

“Explosive off the ball, he’s got a toughness,” Kelly said of Bonner. “Very physical. He’s going to play as a freshman. He’s got maturity, and he’ll see action.”

Kelly also noted linebackers Greer Martini, Jhonny Williams and Kolin Hill. Martini is slated to back up starter Jaylon Smith, while Kelly envisions a role for Williams and Hill in third-down pass rush situations.

“I think in years past I probably would be (concerned), but my eyes tell me something different when I watch them,” Kelly said of the youth on his defense. “They’ve got an edge to them. Nyles Morgan and Jonathan Bonner and Jhonny Williams, Trumbetti, Kolin Hill. I just watch these guys play, Isaac Rochell is a beast. These guys are physical football players and have an edge to them. (Daniel) Cage is a load.”

Though not a freshman, newcomer Cody Riggs was named starting cornerback alongside junior KeiVarae Russell. Riggs transferred to Notre Dame to pursue his master’s degree after starting for three years at Florida.



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