NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Cross another ‘first’ off the Notre Dame head coaching bucket list Marcus Freeman. He has already led a team on the field as a head coach. He has led Notre Dame through a spring full of practices. And on Friday, Freeman led the Fighting Irish through his first practice as head coach.
No longer the defensive coordinator he was the past six seasons at Purdue, Cincinnati and Notre Dame, Freeman ran the show for the first time as a head coach when the Fighting Irish took the field under the Irish Athletic Center’s bullpen and on the outfield.
“It’s good to get under your belt,” Freeman said. “Now I’m used to being the one playing.”
Freeman wasn’t limited to one part of the field, as he has been as a coordinator and position coach during his coaching career that began in 2010. He spent the two and a half hours of Friday’s session spending time with as many many position groups, on both sides of the ball.
“To me, that’s part of spending time with your players,” Freeman explained. “And that’s why I’m intentional about going to individual workouts because, again, I’m not an offensive head coach (or) a defensive head coach or special teams. I’m just the head coach and I want to make sure I spend time with every position group.”
Friday was the first of 19 practices Freeman’s Irish will have during their first fall camp.
“That first practice, just like for the players, it’s the same thing for the coaches to get into your routine,” noted the Irish head coach. “Hopefully by day two or three I won’t have to look at my script to know what the next period is. I’ll know exactly what’s going on.
Talking Tobias (Meriweather)
True freshman wide receiver Tobias Merriweather has only been on campus since June, but has made a good first impression. A West Karmas native, Wash looked good on the first day of fall camp.
He stands 6-4 at a slight 198 pounds, but has good body control and explosiveness off his breaks. Freeman says there’s an opportunity this year for the former four-star recruit.
“I think he’s a guy who’s in a position where there’s not a lot of depth in that room,” Freeman said. “So he’s in a position where he’s going to have to step up early. And, you know, if he’s ready to help us, he’ll play. I think because of the depth in that room, you’re going to see him get a lot more opportunities.
“He’s long, he can run (and) I’ve only heard great things from the summer what he’s done, and I’m excited to see what he does.”
The Fighting Irish began training camp with a fairly healthy squad. Freeman said only three players – running back Yadarian Pricetight end Mitchell Evans and wide receiver Joe Wilkins Jr are currently the only three players who will not play in the Sept. 3 season opener against Ohio State.
There are other players who practiced on the first day of training camp, but they are on limited duty to start camp.
“There’s progression for some guys, the regression,” Freeman said. “You know, we can’t just go to zero and put them out there (to) 100. So we’ve got some guys out there with limited reps.”
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These players include Logan Diggs (shoulder), Marist Luffau (ankle), Avery Davis (ACL) and Cane Berrong (ACL).
Diggs suffered a torn labrum in his left shoulder in the Blue-Gold scrimmage in April. He was the only non-quarterback to redshirt Friday’s practice, meaning limited contact. He also wore a black support sleeve/bandage on his shoulder and upper arm.
No Camp Culver
In recent years, Notre Dame has started fall camp at Culver Academies, which is located about 34 miles south of campus. That’s out now.
“It wasn’t even something we talked about,” Freeman said. “I know the last few years they didn’t because of Covid, but it wasn’t something that was even brought up as it was available for this year.”
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