Five Notre Dame players to watch in spring practice

Five Notre Dame players to watch in spring practice
February 27, 2014, 10:15 am
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1. Everett Golson: The key here is how Golson looks in scrimmages leading up to the April 12 Blue-Gold Game. These non-contact simulations against his teammates are as close as Golson will be to a competitive atmosphere in a year, and they'll be a good opportunity for him to shake the rust off and gain the trust of the new guys around him. Coach Brian Kelly may say Malik Zaire will compete with Golson this spring for the No. 1 quarterback job, though it'd be a complete shock if Golson doesn't emerge from April 12's Blue-Gold scrimmage with a firm grip on a starting gig.

2. Torii Hunter Jr.: A dynamic playmaker in high school, Hunter suffered a broken leg in a prep All-Star game last January and redshirted the 2013 season. But he impressed coaches and teammates during bowl practice and has an incredibly high ceiling as a slot receiver. This spring will be the first real look we get at Hunter, and don't be surprised if he winds up among the most impressive players in March and April.

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3. Max Redfield: One of three five-star recruits to sign with Notre Dame a year ago, Redfield didn't see significant defensive playing time until the Pinstripe Bowl. Safeties coach Bob Elliott preached patience with Redfield prior to last season, detailing how difficult it is to learn the responsibilities of playing two-deep safety in Notre Dame's defense. But he began to break through in December, and his elite athleticism should translate into a spot in Notre Dame's safety rotation beginning this spring.

4. Steve Elmer: The question isn't whether Elmer will start or not, it's where on the offensive line. A natural tackle, Elmer wound up filling in at guard after Christian Lombard underwent back surgery in October. He was solid there, though his size (6-foot-5, 317 pounds) and athletic ability may make him better suited for tackle in the long run. With openings at both left guard and left tackle, Elmer should enter spring a favorite to take over one of those spots.

[ALSO: Notre Dame spring storylines: Sizing up defensive line]

5. Cole Luke: He won't outright win a starting gig opposite KeiVarae Russell at cornerback this spring, given graduate transfer Cody Riggs and incoming freshman Nick Watkins will join the Irish in June. But he -- or fellow freshman Devin Butler -- can get a head start on winning a starting job this spring. Luke has solid ball skills and impressed coaches with how quickly he picked up defensive concepts last year, and would seem to be the favorite heading into spring camp.