SOUTH BEND | Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly hopes new NCAA rules allowing coaches to work with players over the summer will help players get ahead for the fall, especially freshmen.
"We're installing our offense and defense again," Kelly said Tuesday night. "We'll install our core offensive plays, our core defensive structure. We'll get our guys running and doing football related drill work without footballs, bags and blocking sleds and we get in front of them. That's something we've never been able to do in June."
Coaches are allowed to work up to eight hours a week with the players, but it comes from the time normally allotted to work with the strength and conditioning coach. Kelly said the only player unable to take part in the first workouts Tuesday was linebacker Jarrett Grace, who had surgery in March to insert a rod to into his right leg that was broken in four places in a victory over Arizona State on Oct. 5.
Grace was on a stationary bike during practice Tuesday, but Kelly said the coaches plan on being aggressive with him and hope to have him play against Rice on Aug. 30. Kelly said it's too early to say if Grace can compete to regain his starting job by the opener, but said Grace is in good spirits.
"I think it's the best I've seen him mentally. He was in a tough spot there for a little bit before the surgery," he said.
Kelly also got his first look at receiver DaVaris Daniels in action since he was reinstated to school after being suspended for the spring semester for an unspecified academic violation. Daniels, who has two seasons of eligibility remaining, was second on the team last season with 49 catches for 745 yards.
"He's obviously physically done a lot of work in the time away. He's in very good shape. Now it's just a matter of getting his legs back, and I'm sure that will happen in very short order," he said.
Kelly said quarterback Everett Golson, who was suspended for the fall semester for academic impropriety after leading the Irish to an appearance in the national championship game a year earlier, spent a week in San Diego last month working with quarterback coach George Whitfield Jr. Golson, who is competing with Malik Zaire for the starter's job, spent two months during the fall working with Whitfield while he was suspended from the university.
"He felt like he needed more football work — just throwing, repetition. He just wanted more work and he got it," Kelly said.
Kelly said he hopes the summer workouts will help the freshmen, who arrive on campus next week, get up to speed even faster.
"Now to get to know some of the terminology and get to know a little bit of what we're doing is a huge thing," he said. "I think that's going to be helpful in giving a guy a chance to compete as a true freshman."
Kelly spoke to the media Tuesday before taking part in the Football 101 program for women that raises money for breast cancer prevention. The program is run by Kelly's wife, Paqui, who has twice been treated successfully for breast cancer.