CULVER – Brandon Wimbush has barely seen the field during his time with the Notre Dame football program. However, the redshirt sophomore quarterback has already learned the importance of maturity and leadership as he steps into the fishbowl-like existence that goes with the position.
“His demeanor,” veteran Fighting Irish coach Brian Kelly said in reference to his quarterback following the opening day of training camp earlier this week, “his confidence level, there was clearly a presence there. When the first unit goes out there, there is clearly a confidence level that everyone has with him.”
Notre Dame will wrap-up training camp at Culver Academy Tuesday and return to South Bend for a 10:15 a.m. practice.
The Notre Dame players are showing belief in the first-time starter, as are the Fighting Irish coaches.
A select group of Irish players were awarded special green workout shirts (differing from the regular blue ones) following summer workouts last month to signify the best leaders and workers within the program, of which, Wimbush was one of them.
“The green jerseys were given to players who were quote/unquote starving in terms of their work ethic, their desire to be great,” Kelly said recently. “We wanted to give those out as a form of modeling to all of the other players that were in our program, to see what you needed to do to wear one of those green jerseys.”
A lot has been made of the Notre Dame off-season work under director of football performance Matt Balis. The Fighting Irish players told Kelly following the 2016 season that their development and conditioning were lagging and the coaching staff addressed the matter.
“We didn't roll those (green) jerseys out in January because we were all trying to build that base of what it looked like to do all the things necessary to be that kind of football player here at Notre Dame, both on and off the field” Kelly explained. “Brandon has exhibited those traits.”
— Notre Dame Football (@NDFootball) August 4, 2017
Wimbush has spent the past eight months under the guidance of not just Kelly and Balis, but also first-year Irish quarterback coach Tom Rees.
The former Notre Dame quarterback didn't have a spotless career in terms of maturity and leadership while he was in South Bend, but you would be hard-pressed to find a guy that was more centered on work ethic, attitude and unselfishness, all of which can benefit Wimbush, as well as every other quarterback on the roster.
“(Rees) has grit, he's got resilience,” Kelly said in January upon hiring Rees. “He's got all the traits that you want in one of your coaches that played the position here at Notre Dame.”
Wimbush is spending this camp working with the starters, and is the assumed guy to lead this year's offense. However, Kelly spoke of Wimbush not taking anything for granted because the coaches are not handing anything to anyone – green jersey or a starting job – unless it has been truly earned.
“There is still competition,” Kelly said of the quarterback position. “We know the No. 1 quarterback is Brandon Wimbush. But he's competitive. (Back-up) Ian Book's competitive. I think that there is going to be competition there.
“Those kids are so competitive, that we don't even have to create competition. They are so competitive in the way that they go to work every day.”
Parseghian to be remembered Sunday
A Mass for the Feast of the Transfiguration and Celebration of the Life of Ara Parseghian will take place Sunday at 2 p.m. at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart on the Notre Dame campus.
The iconic Notre Dame football coach passed away Wednesday at the age of 94.
University president Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., will preside.
A memorial celebration will follow at 3:30 p.m. in Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center, in which family, former Fighting Irish players and colleagues will speak.
The public is invited to attend both the Mass and memorial.
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