Notre Dame's seniors lead their peers in stretching before the first preseason practice at Culver Academies.

Preseason Practice Update - August 7

Aug. 7, 2015

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CULVER, Ind. – While one often hears about rigorous academic standards testing the mettle of Notre Dame student-athletes, one member of the Irish football team enjoyed a relative state of academic bliss on Friday as the team began preseason practice at Culver Academies.

While linebacker Jarrett Grace was unable to attend today’s session due to academic commitments from his intensive graduate level business program, no one else on the team had to worry about schoolwork because classes, generally, are not in session. The Irish are free to focus solely on football and team-building this week while enjoying the stunning Culver campus on the shore of Lake Maxinkuckee, about an hour south of Notre Dame.

Everything about this, however, is a new experience for graduate safety Avery Sebastian who officially began his Irish football career today. Sebastian transferred from California where he graduated in four years but retained a year of eligibility which the 31-game Golden Bear veteran will use this fall for the Irish.

Cal never left its Berkeley campus for training camp because, unlike the Irish, the Golden Bears were in classes.

“The first week and a half of camp you still had classes,” Sebastian recalled. “It was difficult. You had to find a balance of class and football at the start. Here, we can be in camp and not have to worry about anything outside of football until school actually starts at the end of August. I’m glad to focus on one thing at a time.”

Coming to Notre Dame in a capacity similar to Cody Riggs, the 2013 Florida graduate who helped sure up the 2014 Irish cornerback position while earning a master’s degree. Notre Dame hopes to bolster its safety group with the addition of Sebastian’s experience and abilities.

A teammate of Isaac Rochell’s at Georgia prep power Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy, Sebastian said he was excited to be back on a football field today. He missed Cal’s 2015 spring practice between the January declaration of his intention to transfer and his May graduation from Berkeley. Earning his bachelor’s degree in sociology allowed for his transfer to Notre Dame where he will work on an individualized degree from the Mendoza College of Business combining business management and entrepreneurship.

“It’s been exciting,” Sebastian said. “I’ve been out of it since December, so to be able to get my feet wet felt great. I already know a lot of the plays. I have a good relationship with my teammates so I feel comfortable out there.

“I had some first-year jitters about being on the field today. I really wanted to come here and make an impact. I’ll go back and look at the film to see how I did today, but I’m just glad I was able to go on the field and get back to doing football things.”

FRIDAY IN BRIEF: Notre Dame held its first practice of the year on Friday morning with no pads but an audience of about 50 media members. Following practice, Malik Zaire and KeiVarae Russell were popular choices among the reporters and Irish fans can look for updates on them in the local media. After lunch, the Irish had some down time to enjoy the lake and other activities. A late afternoon and early evening battery of weight room sessions and meetings awaited the team, sandwiched around a steak dinner at Culver’s classically-styled dining hall.

As usual, Fighting Irish Media’s presence was sizeable with an eight-man crew on site for video, blog, social media and publicity purposes.

Today’s Video Content

Some of the top tweets about the team from Friday can be found below.

— written and compiled by Leigh Torbin, athletic communications assistant director and Michael Bertsch, director of football media relations