Spring practice is important for the coaching staff to develop a foundation that can be built upon going into fall camp. But for the fans, it’s about watching player performances and trying to determine which prospect can turn into a star in the years to come.
Sometimes, a spring moment is the highlight of a players’ career, like 2007 Blue-Gold Game MVP Junior Jabbie. Other times, like with C.J. Prosise in 2015, it can be a sign that a player is ready to burst on the scene.
Here are five players of interest for Notre Dame fans this spring.
Liam Eichenberg, OT
Eichenberg was considered to be the left tackle prospect of the future when he signed with the Irish in 2016. With Mike McGlinchey’s eligibility finally expired, Eichenberg’s time is now. The 6-foot-6, 300-pound rising junior has the frame and agility to handle the position, though there are other pieces that could be moved along the offensive line should the Cleveland native not be ready this spring.
Alohi Gilman, S
While the Irish return both starters at safety, it was not an area of strength last season. As a freshman at Navy, the 5-foot-11, 199-pounder was second on the team in tackles. Gilman earned rave reviews from head coach Brian Kelly during last season for his work on the scout team and most expect him to earn a starting job at one of the two safety spots this fall.
Alize Mack, TE
Everyone is waiting for Las Vegas native's untapped potential to finally emerge. While Mack is a senior in Notre Dame terms, he does have two years of eligibility remaining. But in his two seasons on the field with the Irish he has but 32 receptions, which is far short of what most projected when he came to South Bend in 2015. Plus, he missed the 2016 season due to academics and was suspended for the Citrus Bowl. Mack has the talent and with pass catchers in limited supply this spring, he will have a huge opportunity to establish himself as a top offensive option.
Dexter Williams, RB
Williams has been a spring star the past two years. He has also shown big-play potential when he has gotten on the field for the Irish. The problem is, he hasn’t seen that much action. Over the past couple of years it was hard to justify giving Williams touches at the expense of Josh Adams. But now Adams is gone and Williams has one final chance at stardom. Tony Jones Jr. also is a candidate for carries in the backfield, but not only is there room for both, the Irish need the two Florida products to excel because there isn’t much in reserve.
Brandon Wimbush, QB
The biggest story of Notre Dame’s spring workouts will be the quarterback situation. How the Citrus Bowl played out, with Ian Book replacing Wimbush (above, right) and leading the Irish to victory, a quarterback debate has developed. And while Book was better that day, there was a reason why Wimbush was the starter for virtually the entire 2017 season. Wimbush has to show that he has progressed in all aspects of the passing game and is not just a running back that takes snaps or else his playing time will drift away.
— Written by Jon Kinne, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a college football fanatic. Kinne has been writing about recruiting for the Irish Sports Daily for 10 years. Follow him on Twitter @JonRKinne.