Aug. 7, 2000

NOTRE DAME, Ind. — Notre Dame’s football freshman class hit the practice field for the first time this morning. Here are Irish head coach Bob Davie’s observations following that morning workout in helmets, shoulder pads and shorts —

General thoughts:
“It’s always hard to evaluate, but it’s an impressive group of skilled athletes. It’s a little different class because there are not any big linemen in it — but there are a lot of skilled players. It’s exciting to see the quarterbacks, wide receivers, the linebackers, and then we’ve got a couple of young running backs and defensive backs. Only time will tell, but it’s a good looking group. There is obviously some talent in this group. There is some size in this group. You look at those wide receivers, and they’re a little bit bigger than we’ve had in the past. The same thing is true with the quarterbacks. We’ve got some good size in those skill positions.”

On what the Irish coaches want to establish:
“First and foremost, the goal is to get them indoctrinated into Notre Dame. Last night their parents were here for that final dinner, and you go back and reiterate a lot of the things you talked about in recruiting, what our goals are for them. The first thing is to graduate in four years. You talk to them about how it will be worth it if they stick it out — and you talk to them about how it’s not going to be easy, and that this is just one step in the process. The first thing is to get them indoctrinated into what’s coming, get them prepared for the varsity to come in here, just get their feet on the ground.”

On status of defensive lineman Greg Pauly (he came in with a question about a knee):
“We’re going to let him go ahead and try it. He hasn’t been cleared for full contact yet, obviously, but he’s going to be able to do some things. We’re going to let him go, we’re going to see how it goes, and hopefully it’s going to be okay and work out. He needs to get the quad a little bit stronger, he’s had some atrophy in there, but the knee was good and tight. Like with a lot of those tears or partial tears, right now a lot depends on just how he does, how he rehabs, and each guy is a little bit different. But at least there is a green light to go ahead and get started. There’s always that chance he may still need surgery. It may be 50/50 right now, but we’re just going to go with him and take it slow. At least he’s out here working and he’s a part of it. He’s obviously an impressive guy, he’s 280 pounds and can move. But if he has the surgery now, or he has the surgery later, in the big scope of it all, it really doesn’t matter. To rehab his knee is the number-one priority and to build that quad back up. He can start to accomplish those things by doing what he’s doing out here.”

On Jerome Collins playing defense:
“We went back and forth with it during the summer. He’s 232 pounds, looks like he’s going to be a tight end or a linebacker, and we’re looking for some backups at linebacker, and that’s a critical thing for us for the 2000 season. That’s our first priority right now. So we’re going to start him out at linebacker, just see how it goes, and we may look at him at tight end a little bit, too. He’s a big receiver that can run, but he’s 232 pounds. We’ve got some other receivers in this class, so I think linebacker gives him the best opportunity.”

On Abram Elam playing in the secondary:
“I’m going to wait and talk to (offensive coordinator) Kevin (Rogers). When we recruited him it was going to be a situation where we would start him out at quarterback and he understood there’s a chance he could be a safety. So I think that’s a possibility.”

On plans for the freshman quarterbacks:
“It’s different, because you’ve got (offensive line coach) Dave Borbely out here and he doesn’t have anyone to coach, and you’ve got Kevin Rogers and Urban Meyer who are coaching guys maybe to play this season. We’re trying to put it all in, we’re trying to see first of all who can grasp and who can learn. Just watching guys throw, arm strength and mechanics say a lot, but in college football it’s who can grasp, who can retain, who can learn. We’re trying to throw an awful lot at them just to see who can pick the stuff up mentally. We’re looking for a quarterback, we’re looking for someone that can maybe help this football team this year. Arnaz Battle, baring any unforeseen things, will be the starter. Gary Godsey has made some strides, he looks like he can be a backup quarterback for us right now. But in reality, it’s open, because we need someone who can do the same kind of things Arnaz can do.”

On distributing the reps at quarterback:
“I think that’s probably the huge issue in this camp right now. It’s true at wide receiver, but obviously it’s not as critical as it is at quarterback. There’s just so much learning that goes into the quarterback position. So we’re going to try to be fair to each guy, but all in all, we’re going to try to be fair to our football team. And at some point we do have to establish some kind of order. Usually you don’t have to make those decisions, those decisions usually take care of themselves. So, as we stand here right now, it’s a huge issue, but I think in a couple of days, it will kind of work itself out.”

On other possible position options:
“I want to be fair to these guys, but obviously you look at a (Garron) Bible who could maybe be in the secondary. You look at an Abram Elam who can probably go over to safety right now. Jerome Collins is an interesting guy because he can be a tight end or a linebacker. Those are the guys. I don’t think there’s anyone else we’re expecting to move around.”