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  Even Notre Dame's most experienced offensive lineman, Jarrett Patterson, will be trying a new position. Patterson, who started 21 games at center the past two seasons, will have a chance to become the next great left tackle for Kelly at Notre Dame. But Patterson's switch to left tackle, where he initially was positioned as a freshman reserve, will have to wait until he's completely recovered from a surgery on his left foot that ended his 2020 season. Outland Trophy finalist Liam Eichenberg, who started the last 38 games at left tackle for Notre Dame, thinks the transition will be easy for the 6-foot-5, 305-pound Patterson.

"Football comes natural to him," Eichenberg said. "First camp as a freshman, he was a left tackle behind me and he was amazing. It'll be like nothing ever happened. I don't expect there to be a drop-off at all. "It'll be like I'm still there. It'll be like Mike (McGlinchey) was still there. Jarrett will be one of the next greats. He's a great center and him moving out to tackle, it'll make people realize that he's even a better player than most people think." That's promising praise for Patterson. Offensive line coach Jeff Quinn's comfort level with moving Patterson to left tackle was also predicated on the success junior-to-be Zeke Correll had while playing center when Patterson was injured at the end of last season. The 6-3, 295-pound Correll started two games and can be penciled in as the starting center for 2021. - South Bend Tribune


(DS#5 OT) rSo/2023 OT Jarrett PattersonNotre Dame
News Source: South Bend Tribune
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  04/09/21 - RB Markese StepprSo/2023, Nebraska, 5-11, 235 (DS#999 RB) + More +

  Coach Scott Frost announced after his team's fifth spring session that USC transfer running back Markese Stepp would miss all of spring following a recent surgery, but said he should be cleared for some activity this summer and fully ready to go this fall. "He'll be back this summer," Frost said, adding that Stepp arrived on campus with a preexisting injury. "It's something that he didn't know about, we didn't know about when he came in and we think it's in his best interest to get it fixed to give him the best chance to be at his best." Stepp had been involved to at least some degree this spring, though, as videos released by the program showed him participating in at least one padded practice. The other scholarship players Frost said are out for the spring include senior defensive lineman Ben Stille, who had a procedure done before spring ball started, and freshman defensive back Marques Buford Jr. Stepp, though, is the most notable of the group because he arrived on campus hoping to use spring to catapult to the top of Ryan Held's depth chart, and also because he was oft-injured during his three seasons in Los Angeles. - Lincoln Journal Star

(DS#999 RB) rSo/2023 RB Markese SteppNebraska
News Source: Lincoln Journal Star
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  04/09/21 - WR Talik KeatonrSo/2023, Marshall, 6-1, 188 (DS#75 WR) + More +

  Heading into the 2020 season, Marshall wide receiver Talik Keaton was poised to become a breakout talent for the Thundering Herd offense. Keaton was already known as Conference USA's premier return man and had taken on a greater role in the passing game, shining in spring and the preseason. As the season got underway, though, Keaton could never get under good footing - literally. A rash of nagging injuries left the talented sophomore from Sarasota, Florida, limited throughout the 2020 season. With the year of frustration over, Keaton has taken to preparation for 2021 with a renewed vigor, according to new head coach Charles Huff. Huff's uptempo scheme is going to benefit the playmakers on offense, and Keaton is certainly among those, as Huff pointed out earlier this week. "Talik is probably the most consistent in that group right now," Huff said. Huff talked about there being plenty of flash among Marshall's playmakers, but he was looking for "consistent light," which Keaton is bringing to the table with his efforts each day. - Charleston Gazette

(DS#75 WR) rSo/2023 WR Talik KeatonMarshall
News Source: Charleston Gazette
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  04/09/21 - QB Joe MiltonrSo/2023, Michigan, 6-4, 243 (DS#15 QB) + More +

  The former four-star prospect from Florida got off to a promising start in 2020 in his first year as the starter but stumbled down the stretch. He was replaced by Cade McNamara in Michigan's comeback victory against Rutgers in the fifth game of the season and lost the starting job Week 6 against Penn State. All four of Milton's touchdown passes came during the first three games, while he completed fewer than 50% of his passes in each of the last three, albeit he only threw three against the Nittany Lions in relief. Despite featuring a 6-foot-5, 243-pound frame with immense arm strength, Milton never hit his stride in Michigan's offense. With McNamara returning and the arrival of five-star freshman J.J. McCarthy, Milton entered the portal Feb. 18. He has three years of eligibility remaining but has not yet announced his new destination. - Ann Arbor News

(DS#15 QB) rSo/2023 QB Joe MiltonMichigan
News Source: Ann Arbor News
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  04/09/21 - DE Kayvon ThibodeauxSo/2023, Oregon, 6-5, 250 (DS#1 DE) + More +

  It's amusing to hear the 6-foot-5, 250-pound Thibodeaux compare himself to Hill, a 6-foot-1, 200-pound nickel safety. Should Thibodeaux notch any interceptions in the fall, it won't be all that unusual for an edge player. Winning the Heisman Trophy would be, as only one defensive player has even done so and while others have gotten some early hype over the years, few outside of Ndamukong Suh, Manti Te'o and Tyrann Mathieu held on for consideration as the season continued. "I think it's very possible for a defensive player," Oregon coach Mario Cristobal said. "The thing about KT, he's a high achiever and he wants to be around guys that are into high achievement standards. He sees himself as limitless; we feel the same way. The sky is the limit for him. He played a year and really a half a season. His best football is still ahead of him.

"His body is continuing to grow larger, strong, more explosive, more flexible. His football IQ is continuing to increase. Coach DeRuyter has got a tremendous amount of experience, has coached some really high level edge players before. The combination of all those things with a guy that wants to win championships, it's exactly what you want for your football team. He's pushing himself, he's pushing others." Thibodeaux did drop into coverage at times last near, notably out of the dime package against UCLA, so it's not entirely a new concept for him. DeRuyter also made it clear that coverage isn't going to be Thibodeaux's primary assignment by any means, but more of an additional way to utilize his many skills. "Up front I really like our edges with Kayvon and Mase (Funa)," DeRuyter said. "I think they do a really nice job setting edges. They're guys that play in space. - The Oregonian


(DS#1 DE) So/2023 DE Kayvon ThibodeauxOregon
News Source: The Oregonian
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  04/09/21 - OT Thayer MunfordrSr/2022, Ohio State, 6-5, 315 (DS#3 OT) + More +

  Paris Johnson assumed Ohio State football would have an opening at left tackle by his sophomore season. After the national championship game, the Buckeyes' starting left tackle, Thayer Munford, confided in Johnson that he might not be ready to vacate his post. The NCAA decided no fall athletes would accrue eligibility last season. Munford could put off the NFL Draft and come back for a "Super Senior" season. Johnson - widely complimented on his maturity since his days as one of the nation's top high school recruits - had to process his personal goals against Munford's. He said Munford knew what Johnson's expectations were and "kept it real" regarding his own thinking.

"At the end of the day, the most important thing is ... him getting his degree, and then being able to go the highest that you can when you leave this place - to maximize that opportunity," Johnson said. "I told him just to pray on it and go where he felt peace, and then that should be the decision. He said he felt peaceful coming back. So I told him you shouldn't go against that feeling, so I was all for it." Johnson has been playing guard extensively this spring and now projects as the starter on the right side next to tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere, who he has bonded with. - Cleveland Plain Dealer


(DS#3 OT) rSr/2022 OT Thayer MunfordOhio State
News Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer
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  04/09/21 - DT Ty RobinsonrFr/2024, Nebraska, 6-5, 310 (DS#8 DT) + More +

  At 6 feet, 6 inches tall and 310 pounds, Ty Robinson is an imposing figure even before he puts on his pads. Unless you're a little kid. "One day I just found out that kids really like me for some reason, I don't know why," Robinson said. "They all seem to just call me a big teddy bear, I guess. A big jungle gym. They climb all over me." That's a good problem to have for Nebraska's redshirt freshman defensive lineman, who has plans to be a pediatric doctor after his football playing days are over. As a pre-health major at Nebraska, Robinson has a pretty large workload in front of him.

He's already gotten a taste of it, too, having taken 18 credit hours in the fall when it was unclear just what Nebraska's season was going to look like. "Not a good idea," Robinson cracked. "I highly don't recommend that." But Robinson, who wants to move on to UNMC in Omaha after he's done in Lincoln, found his way through during a season in which he started seven games and flashed the potential that made him one of the most sought-after recruits in the 2019 class. "You learn to balance it out. There really is no time off, is what I've realized, but you find time off. You find time to take a little break," Robinson said. "But...my days are pretty full. I'm usually not going to bed until around 11, midnight from schoolwork, practice, film." - Lincoln Journal Star


(DS#8 DT) rFr/2024 DT Ty RobinsonNebraska
News Source: Lincoln Journal Star
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  During his debut season with the Oregon State football program, Chance Nolan flashed dazzling athleticism and looked like he could be the Beavers' long-term answer at quarterback. But he also faced the ups and downs that most young signal callers do in the Pac-12, and struggled at times with the speed and physicality of the game. So in the three-and-a-half months since Oregon State's 2020 season finale, Nolan has worked to adapt his game from both a physical and mechanical standpoint. With one day of spring practice in the books, he and Oregon State's coaching staff are happy with the early return. "I thought he did a pretty good job in the weight room," offensive coordinator Brian Lindgren said. "Our strength guys really had the last three months with him, and he added a little bit of weight and strength. He had a little bit more zip on the ball today. In terms of durability, I think this will help him moving forward this season."

Nolan will enter the spring with a leg up in the starting quarterback competition, as last year's Week 1 starter, Tristan Gebbia, is still sidelined with a knee injury. With Gebbia out, that leaves Nolan, freshman Ben Gulbranson and incoming freshman Sam Vidlak as the only three active quarterbacks at the moment. All three had nice moments during the 7-on-7 portions of Tuesday's practice, and Lindgren pointed out that the lack of current depth under center could be a blessing in disguise. - Gazette Times


(DS#999 QB) rSo/2023 QB Chance NolanOregon State
News Source: Gazette Times
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  For the development of Petit-Frere as he prepares for his second full season as a starter at right tackle, offensive line coach Greg Studrawa sees run blocking as an area where he can make some of the biggest strides. It starts with lowering his pad level, as the 6-foot-5 tackle often got too upright while blocking smaller defenders. "He is a tall guy," Studrawa said, "and for him to bend at times, it's a strain." The emphasis has required additional leg-strengthening exercises and flexibility training. "His pass blocking excelled," Studrawa added. "That was last year's focus: Making him an elite pass protector. He's well on his way. His feet are done. He's doing those things there. But what we've got to do is make him an elite run blocker, not just a good run blocker. He's got to become elite." Despite last fall's breakout season, Petit-Frere has strived to maintain his focus and seek continuous improvement. Plaudits only matter so much. "The main goal is to improve on what I did from the season before," he said. "I'm not going to just forget about what I've done, I'm going to make sure what I've done is try to improve on the things that I've done, and not just stay the same, but to be even better." - Columbus Dispatch

(DS#2 OT) rSo/2023 OT Nicholas Petit-FrereOhio State
News Source: Columbus Dispatch
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  What if he could get back to the form he had as a freshman, when he started 10 games, caught 30 passes and scored three touchdowns? What if he and his 6-4, 227-pound frame could supply the Gamecocks with a sorely needed receiver, since they're really starting over at quarterback and their most dependable returning pass-catcher is a tight end? "I feel like OrTre stepped to the plate as we know he could," said cornerback Cam Smith, who often draws the assignment of covering Smith in practice. "He's making great strides to be the No. 1 receiver here." OrTre Smith has certainly looked good thus far, no extra wraps or braces on his knee and a hulking presence in the receiver group. A strong work ethic and unshakeable belief in himself wouldn't let him leave this opportunity on the table. "I've been having flashes in my head of what I can really do if I'm 100 percent healthy. I know what I can do. You guys haven't seen it," Smith declared. "I had a little flash my freshman year. Me personally, I know I could be the best to ever do it if I stay healthy and get in shape." There's that phrase again. "If I stay healthy." The knee limited him to two games in 2018 and while he played in nine games the next year, he wasn't the same. Then he was gone for 2020, meaning Smith hasn't actually played since Nov. 30, 2019. - The Post and Courier

(DS#999 WR) rJr/2022 WR OrTre SmithSouth Carolina
News Source: The Post and Courier
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  04/09/21 - OT *Penei SewellJr/2021, Oregon, 6-5, 331 (DS#1 OT) + More +

  With quarterbacks expected to go with at least the top three picks in the draft and Cincinnati at No. 5, numerous projections have Sewell headed to the Bengals. With Taylor running one of the drills at Oregon's pro day, Sewell admitted to feeling some nerves at first but said being able to turn to his brother Gabe, a former linebacker at Nevada going through pro day at UO as well, helped. "At the end of the day, football is football for me," Sewell said. "Going out there clear-minded, not really getting those logos and those people's teams get over my head about that, not to overthink about that. At the end of the day, going out there and performing and doing what I do, being between those lines at pro day definitely brought a lot of memories."

Sewell felt people forgot about him a little bit after not playing last season and wanted to reaffirm that he's the best offensive tackle in this year's draft. The 2019 Outland Trophy winner and unanimous All-American felt his performance last week did that but above all, believes his film from albeit just 21 career college games, shows he's the best in class. "Go put on the tape," Sewell said. "Everybody go ahead and watch what I can do and nobody can do what I do in this draft in the offensive tackle rooms. I bring something totally different to the table and I think people know that. People will say whatever they want to say. All I have to say is put on the tape and watch me work." - The Oregonian


(DS#1 OT) Jr/2021 OT *Penei SewellOregon
News Source: The Oregonian
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  04/09/21 - CB Keaton EllisSo/2023, Penn State, 5-11, 186 (DS#999 CB) + More +

  Keaton Ellis' sophomore season was shortened by injuries and the COVID-19 pandemic. The usual 12 games the team would play was chopped down to nine, and that number was lowered even further to six for Ellis, who missed time with hamstring issues. Now with a second shot at his sophomore season - after the NCAA didn't count the 2020 season toward athletes' eligibility clock - Ellis returns to a crowded cornerback room with a clean bill of health ready to build upon what he's already accomplished. "I think we have one of the most competitive groups on the team," Ellis said Tuesday afternoon. "We've just been going at it...We're all working hard and there's a lot of talent in the room, so you've got to come out and compete every day."

The State College native is a part of one of Penn State's deepest positions. The Nittany Lions return all of their key contributors at cornerback from last season and will add multiple new faces. One of those new faces is a transfer - John Dixon - who enters the room with more experience than most newcomers. Dixon played in three games as a freshman at South Carolina, then all 10 as a sophomore last season before leaving for Penn State. Ellis said Dixon is already adding to the loaded position group. - Centre Daily


(DS#999 CB) So/2023 CB Keaton EllisPenn State
News Source: Centre Daily
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  04/09/21 - ILB Caleb KellyrSr/2022, Oklahoma, 6-2, 225 (DS#33 ILB) + More +

  On the practice field Tuesday, OU sixth-year linebacker Caleb Kelly had a breakthrough. "Today was the first day where my body kind of caught up," Kelly said. "It's weird with the knee. Some practices you'll be fast and then some practices you will be really slow and you'll say, 'I was just good.' "There's a lot of up and down with it. When you are making a play, your angles have to change when one day you are fast, one day you are slower. It's hard to do that." Coming back from his second devastating knee injury in as many years, Kelly is hoping the fast days start to greatly outweigh the slow days. Sooners inside linebackers coach Brian Odom said Kelly's improvement this spring has been noticeable. "There's been a jump," Odom said. "He's more fluid. The things he's seeing, he's processing faster. The thing with it is it makes you excited for Caleb, not only because of his size and knowledge, also very excited for him as a person after all he's been through here at the university." Kelly certainly has been through quite a bit. - Daily Oklahoman

(DS#33 ILB) rSr/2022 ILB Caleb KellyOklahoma
News Source: Daily Oklahoman
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  To explain the ability of senior defensive tackle Jayson Ademilola, Notre Dame football coach Brian Kelly turned to a joke he might have heard at a football coaching clinic. "How do you get guys off blocks?" Kelly said Saturday following Notre Dame's fourth spring practice. "You just yell louder." "Because it's almost an innate ability to do it. Some guys are good at it, some guys not quite as good." Turns out Ademilola falls in the good category. Though Ademilola spent his first three seasons with the Irish as a rotational player, Notre Dame appears to be making room for him in the starting lineup by moving fellow defensive tackle Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa to strongside defensive end. That alignment has repeatedly shown up in video glimpses of spring practice shared by the program.

"He doesn't stay blocked, and he makes plays," Kelly said of Ademilola. "He makes tackles. That's a mark of a good player. He's a guy that grades out very high. When he's in there, he's been very, very efficient as a football player for us." The senior-to-be Ademilola might be riding the momentum with which he finished a turbulent 2020 season. He made his first two career starts in October against Florida State and Louisville while Tagovailoa-Amosa was limited. Then Ademilola was forced to miss three games due a torn meniscus in one of his knees suffered against Clemson in November. - Indianapolis Star News


(DS#17 DT) Jr/2022 DT Jayson AdemilolaNotre Dame
News Source: Indianapolis Star News
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  Sills is an example of how the transfer portal works well and helps players who want a new challenge or a fresh start. Despite the crazy season of Covid, Sills started every game for OSU in 2020, six times at left guard, once at left tackle and four games at right tackle. Sills had made 24 starts for West Virginia but was sidelined by injury much of the 2019 season and already had been granted a sixth year of eligibility when he arrived in Stillwater. So Sills is back for the 2021 season. Sills' description of the portal experience: "I loved it. Loved every second of it. I'm beyond thankful to being in the position I am, for Coach (Gundy) and everybody else giving me the opportunity to play here." Sills even treasures the portal recruiting process, for how it molded him. December was a dead period, so he was not allowed in-person recruiting trips. "The biggest thing for me, it kind of taught me a lot about myself, as far as how to build relationships with people you couldn't necessarily see face to face," Sills said. "I kind of had to go based on what people said and just kind of get a feel for it." - Daily Oklahoman

(DS#68 OG) rSr/2022 OG Josh SillsOklahoma State
News Source: Daily Oklahoman
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