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Spring Ball Updates: Quick Hitters and Player Interviews

Written by Liam Gaudet ⏐ Senior Editor ⏐ Twitter/X: @LiamGaudetIT

Photo by The Irish Tribune

Notre Dame wrapped up it's ninth Spring practice on Tuesday, and there's much to discuss. The Irish Tribune Staff was in attendance for what was a beautiful morning in South Bend, where the Irish hit the LaBar practice fields in preparation for the annual Blue & Gold game which is now less than two weeks away.

Before we jump into the player interviews, here are some quick observations our staff made while in attendance:

  • Riley Leonard was in attendance, wearing tennis shoes with what appeared to be a brace wrapped around his right shoe. Although Leonard didn't actively participate in drills that required a lot of movement/running, he did manage to participate in standing throwing drills. Leonard did not seem to be favoring his foot much while taking short drops and going through his throwing motion, which bodes well for his recovery moving forward.

  • Beaux Collins was still on the sideline observing as he awaits his graduation from Clemson.

  • Jordan Faison did participate in warmups, however, it was in street clothes. Faison is still honed in on chasing a second consecutive national championship with the lacrosse team.

  • All quarterbacks looked sharp throwing the football, the room continues to trend upward.

  • Receivers impressed with their footwork today, particularly Deion Colzie.

  • Joe Rudolph was very encouraging and gave plenty of praise to the O-line during drills. Very few mistakes were made, and the big men up front were very technically sound.

  • Quarterback Dylan Devezin participated in RB drills today, and was wearing a contact jersey.

  • Jayden Harrison was spotted wearing a boot on his left foot

After the conclusion of practice, some players and coaches were made available to the media. We caught up with Riley Leonard, Kenny Minchey, and Max Bullough, who all provided insight on how the Spring has been going.

Riley Leonard

When asked about his ankle, and if it was a surprise that he had to have a second surgery on it, Leonard stated:

"Yes, it absolutely was a surprise. We didn't anticipate the stress fracture to happen, and it hasn't been easy. I've been probably sitting out for like five or six month now. It's a little but frustrating not being out there competing with the guys, but there is upside. Next week I'll be jogging, and it is only Spring. The ankle feels great right now, for the first time in a long time so I think we're finally over that hump."

Leonard stated that he was told not to jog just yet by the medical staff, and that he hasn't been rolling out of the pocket during drills for that reason. He also said that nothing has really hurt it, but he isn't quite sure he's ready to test it. Leonard shot down any speculation that he would be playing in the Blue and Gold game, stating:

"If the Blue and Gold game was a real game in the season, it would be a 50-50 call, however, because it's the Blue and Gold game I don't know if we're going to get to that point."

Leonard stated that his injury is still a bit ambiguous, and it's not really his decision when he'll be back participating in full force. He stressed the importance of getting mental reps in, and helping out in any capacity as best as he could. He made it quite clear that nobody is more sick of this injury than he is. Leonard is still building relationships and chemistry with his teammates, and stressed the importance of communication with both his offensive line and the receiving core.

When asked about his pain levels, Leonard would go on to say:

"Completely pain free right now. Maybe if I were to test it, it would hurt, but I don't think that would be the case. Just need to get the swelling out."

Leonard would also say that there is no concern with the previous TightRope surgery he received, and that it's "great".

Through all the tribulations, Leonard still continues to praise Notre Dame

"It's been so cool for me to be here, because everyone's been so welcoming and inviting. Just like walking to class and seeing the support from the students and getting to know them has been awesome. And around the community, everywhere you go everybody's a Notre Dame fan and that's the biggest takeaway for me."

Kenny Minchey

A name a lot of people are keeping an eye on with Leonard's injury is Redshirt Freshman Kenny Minchey. When asked about how the room has responded with Leonard's absence, Minchey said:

"It's just like any scenario in life, you have to step up when things happen. With Riley going out, he's still getting us better, we're getting him better so I feel like it's all the same, just one less person taking reps."

When asked about Leonard's leadership, Minchey stated:

"He's great, you know, he's a great person. You can tell he was a leader at Duke, so it's great to have another leader like that in the room and on the team just to make sure everyone's squared away and doing the right thing."

When asked about his personal development so far this Spring, Minchey said:

"I feel like it's been going good. Obviously at the beginning, kind of rusty because we haven't played football for a little bit, but after getting into the groove of things I feel like I'm learning a lot more, learning from Gino (Guidugli), learning from all of our coaches, so I feel like I've been doing pretty good."

Max Bullough

Newly minted linebacker's coach, Max Bullough, dropped some interesting tidbits on some of the underclassmen at the position, including Drayk Bowen and Kyngstonn Viliamu-Asa. When discussing the challenges that Bowen has faced as a multi-sport athlete, Bullough would say about Bowen:

"He came up and talked to me as it (baseball) was about to get started. I think other sports are good for our guys, basketball, baseball, as they grow up. But he was very clear with me and said "football is my priority, I don't want baseball to affect football, so can I play baseball and that be a reality or do I have to shut it down?" I don't want to tell him that, the kid loves baseball. We talked, this is your priority Drayk, we have a competitive room. If you're tired, if you can't be at things, you're going to get passed up. So if you can handle your schedule, and the big thing for him is can you handle your rest? Because that's what get's taken from them is rest. He's been able to do that so far."

When asked about Kyngstonn Viliamu-Asa, Bullough stated:

"Kyngstonn has been great. Physically, he's there. He came in, he's 230 or whatever, he's been able to handle the physicality of it. But the way he's been able to process information, take the installs or the sheet of paper to the field has been quite frankly pretty impressive. It's put him in a position where if he just keeps chugging along day in and day out, like I said, we have a competitive room where we've got five-six guys vying for playing time and he's right in the mix. He's fighting every day, doing what a freshman is supposed to do."


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