Kelly spurns Eagles, will remain at Notre Dame


Kelly spurns Eagles, will remain at Notre Dame

Brian Kelly isn't going anywhere.

Notre Dame announced Saturday afternoon Kelly, who reportedly flirted with the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles for the last few days, will remain in South Bend. His decision comes after an agonizing few days for Notre Dame fans, after the first report of Kelly interviewing with the Eagles surfaced Wednesday.

Earlier Saturday, it was reported Philadelphia was prepared to put all its efforts behind landing Kelly. But with Notre Dame starting classes on Tuesday and reportedly holding a team meeting Monday, Kelly's decision had to come quick. While he considered the NFL, Kelly ultimately wasn't ready to leave for football's highest level.

Like every kid who has ever put on a pair of football cleats, I have had thoughts about being a part of the NFL," Kelly said in a statement released by the school. "However, after much reflection and conversation with those closest to me, I have decided to remain at Notre Dame."

Likely part of Kelly's decision to stay was a desire to not uproot his family again. In his introductory press conference at Notre Dame in December of 2009, he spoke of how difficult that process was:

"You come home as a parent and you're going to tell your kids that they're moving and they love the friends and they love the community, and as we started to tell them, tears began to well up in their eyes," Kelly explained. "And (his daughter) Gracie came up to me, grabbed me, hugged me and said, 'Dad, I'm so happy for you. I know this has been your dream. And I'm sad for me just for a little bit. Is that okay?' And I kissed her, and I said, 'You know what, that's what is so magical about this is that my kids know that this was a dream for me.'"

Whether Kelly's dream actually was to remain at Notre Dame was called into question over the last few days. But when Kelly made that dream job remark, perhaps coaching in the NFL wasn't even on the table.

A shot at the NFL came into focus this week for Kelly. He would've done himself a disservice had he not listened to the Eagles, regardless of his intentions.

The Eagles' interest in Kelly was real and significant, just as it was for Penn State's Bill O'Brien and Oregon's Chip Kelly. But at the same time, the Eagles' goal of landing a college coach was a shot in the dark.

"We did so knowing that there was a remote chance that these coaches would leave their current posts," the Eagles released in a statement.

CSNPhilly: Eagles candidate Brian Kelly to stay at Notre Dame

While four-star linebacker Alex Anzalone decommitted from Notre Dame following the reports of Kelly's interview with Philadelphia, it's unlikely there will be any more negative impact on Notre Dame's 2013 recruiting class. Most members of the class voiced their commitment to Notre Dame regardless of its coach while Kelly's status was in limbo during the week.

Kelly also seemed to intimate in his statement his interest in the NFL wasn't a ploy to gain leverage in contract negotiations -- leverage which he probably didn't need. Chances are, Notre Dame will announce a contract extension for Kelly and his coaching staff in the coming days or weeks.

Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick also released a statement, detailing how he -- unlike legions of Notre Dame fans -- was never worried Kelly would leave his post as head coach at Notre Dame. And, too, it's worth noting Swarbrick was kept in the loop at all times regarding Kelly's contact with the Eagles -- so this wasn't a process done behind the athletic department's back.

I was always confident that Brian would continue to lead our football program, I am very happy to have that confirmed and share Brian's excitement about what lies ahead for our program, Swarbrick said. I appreciate the Eagles reaching out to request permission to speak with Brian, and I also appreciate Brian keeping me fully informed throughout this process. We all look forward to whats ahead for Notre Dame football.

DeShone Kizer stays the same leader for new group of Notre Dame teammates

DeShone Kizer stays the same leader for new group of Notre Dame teammates

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — A number of teammates took the field for the first time with DeShone Kizer during the cacophony of Sunday night’s atmosphere at Darrell K. Royal Stadium in Austin. And much as Kizer did last year, he led the Irish offense with a certain kind of poise and mentality that deftly toes the line between confident and cocky. 

“When we were down by two touchdowns or when it was tied, he had the same demeanor,” sophomore receiver C.J. Sanders said. “That really speaks volumes about him as a man.”

Kizer wowed his teammates a year ago when he subbed in for the injured Malik Zaire and threw a game-winning touchdown to Will Fuller. It wasn’t just for the throw, but it was also for the way in which the quarterback conducted himself in a hostile, pressure-packed environment. 

Last year’s Irish offense, though, was loaded with leaders. Ronnie Stanley, Nick Martin and Chris Brown were pillars on that team, and there were veterans all around like Fuller, C.J. Prosise, Steve Elmer and Amir Carlisle. 

Notre Dame only returned a handful of upperclassmen who played on that 2015 team in Kizer, Torii Hunter Jr., Mike McGlinchey and Quenton Nelson (running back Tarean Folston was injured in Week 1 against Texas, and tight end Durham Smythe missed the remainder of the regular season after an injury in Week 2). 

So that meant there was quite a bit of inexperience permeating Notre Dame’s offense Sunday night. But some of those greenhorns said Kizer’s composure and confidence helped them ease into a roaringly-intense evening. 

“When we were down, he brought us together and said we’re going to drive and score and come back,” sophomore receiver Equanimeous St. Brown said, adding that message from Kizer gave him and the rest of the Irish offense a confidence boost in the second half. 

“What young guys typically don’t understand when they go into that environment is that it’s not too much different from what you’re doing in practice,” Kizer said. “When you step in front of 100,000 people, there’s a lot of noise and that could definitely create some adrenaline. But other than that, we’re playing the same game that we’ve been playing all summer. 

“The plays have been made time and time again all offseason and just understanding that when they’re out there, they’re expected to make those same exact plays and all they have to do is do that and do that well. You don’t have to go out there and be someone else. We have a really good coaching staff who put you in good positions to make big plays and all you have to do is execute what they say.” 

Leadership is one of those nebulous things every football player and coach will tell you is necessary, but it’s a quality that’s impossible to quantify. It’s not an end-all, be-all for an offense or defense — Notre Dame, after all, didn’t score when it got the ball back after Jarron Jones’ miraculous blocked PAT, which probably had more to do with the loss of Hunter Jr. than anything else — but it is something that can be pointed to as an asset in close games. 

And with Kizer quarterbacking the offense, Notre Dame has to feel confident in its ability to hang in close games. It still needs its special teams, defense (which was primarily behind recent losses to Stanford and Texas) and coaching (behind the loss to Clemson) to come through, but the next time Notre Dame finds itself in a high-pressure, hostile situation, it can count on Kizer to keep things calm. 

And that counts for something, whatever the extent of it is. 

“Before the game he kind of talked to us, got in front of us and told us hey, I don’t care how young you are, I know you guys can make plays,” Sanders said. “So just hearing that from him developed a comfort level to know that he can depend on us. Hearing that from him really made a big difference.” 

Loyola excited for upcoming season, trip to Spain

Loyola excited for upcoming season, trip to Spain

Loyola didn't have the season they were hoping for in 2015-16 but they're optimistic that things can turn around for the upcoming season. Even though the Loyola roster is filled with newcomers, the Ramblers are hopeful that a summer trip to Spain can help give them a head start.

As part of the trip, Loyola will get 10 extra practices and four games against Spanish competition that will give the team some much-needed experience before practice officially begins in October.

Head coach Porter Moser is already happy about working with this group, which features some productive returnees and a lot of talented newcomers.

"We play four games over there. They get that feel of being coached in a game at this level with their teammates," Moser said. "So then when we start back up in October they have a sense of some of the things we're trying to teach, some of the things of what to expect. And I think that's such a big element."

On a team full of new players, it will be important for senior guard Milton Doyle to have a bounce-back year for Loyola after a disappointing junior campaign. A former star at Marshall, Doyle saw his shooting percentages dip last season as the Loyola coaching staff challenged him to improve for his final season of college basketball. 

Moser is happy with the strides that Doyle has made this summer as he's added over 10 pounds of muscle to now play at 192 pounds. Also committed on the defensive end of the floor and being a team leader, Doyle is the Ramblers' only senior this season, so he'll be counted on to be a productive presence.

"It's a lot this year just because we had four seniors leave last year and I'm the last senior," Doyle said. "So it's my job to make sure everyone stays on track and everyone is uplifted, even when coaches get on them. That's my job right now."

Junior wing Donte Ingram — a former Simeon product — and junior guard Ben Richardson also return as key contributors from last year's team while Iowa State transfer guard Clayton Custer is expected to come in and be a major factor in the team's backcourt rotation.

As for the newcomers, Moser compared juco transfer forward Aundre Jackson favorably to former Loyola forward Christian Thomas while Vlatko Granic gives the team a stretch option at forward that they didn't have in the past. The team's freshmen are also very talented as guard Matt Chastain has shown solid athleticism and a good basketball IQ through some early practices. 

Another freshman guard, Cameron Satterwhite, is coming off of a torn ACL that cost him his senior season, but the Loyola staff is optimistic about his recovery for this season. Croatian freshman guard Bruno Skokna is also recovering from injury as he has played against professionals in Europe the last few seasons on an amateur contract. He is expected to be cleared soon so that he can return to action this season.

"I love this group because it's a group full of gym rats. This is a really enthusiastic group," Moser said. "They've come together, we've got a lot of newcomers. That's the benefit, that's why we did the Spain trip this summer."

Loyola takes its trip to Spain from Aug. 12-22 as they'll hit cities like Barcelona and Madrid during the trip.