Air Jordan 6s Kelly said Heuerman should be an excellent role player
“It was a great experience. The game just didn’t turn out the way we wanted,” said a grinning Kelly, who was the banquet’s keynote speaker at the Waldorf Astoria Naples.
In an interview before speaking to the Winged Foot finalists, the Fighting Irish head coach said his team already has started bouncing back from the title game loss.
“Every year is a new team,” Kelly said. “That’s behind us. We’re focused on what experiences we want to create this year. All those guys got a chance to see what it’s like. They want to get back to that game.”
Kelly said his team would like to be the one to break the Southeastern Conference’s stranglehold on the national championship trophy; the SEC has won the last seven title games. Kelly resuscitated Air Jordan 6s the Notre Dame program last season, when the Irish went 12 0 before its loss to Alabama.
“There are cycles that go through sports, and the cycle right now is with the SEC,” Kelly said. “We played in that game (against Alabama) and we saw that we Air Jordan 9s could win that game. There’s a lot of confidence from the way we played last year.”
After Notre Dame muddled through mediocrity for almost a decade, the Irish hope to be permanent fixtures in the national title hunt under Kelly. The incoming freshman recruiting class was ranked No. 4 in the country by ESPN. So far, the Irish’s Class of 2014 is ranked No.
The 2013 class features someone who went to school just miles from the site of the Winged Foot banquet. Tight end Mike Heuerman graduated from Barron Collier early before enrolling at Notre Dame in January. The 6 foot 4 Heuerman, ranked the eighth best tight end in his class by Rivals, hopes to see action this fall. Kelly said Heuerman already is ahead of the game after getting to South Bend a semester early.
“We really like Mike a lot,” Kelly said. “He graduated a semester early, and just like the reason I’m here for the Winged Foot Scholarship, you’ve got to be an outstanding student if you want those opportunities.
“Because he’s an outstanding student, he got an extra spring (practice season). He has the opportunity to come in and compete right now.”
Several older players are ahead of Heuerman at tight end, so the Barron Collier graduate probably won’t start, Kelly said. However, Kelly said Heuerman should be an excellent role player.
Over time, Kelly expects Heuerman to develop into a Tyler Eifert type player. Eifert broke Notre Dame tight end receiving records before being selected 21st overall by the Cincinnati Bengals in April’s NFL Draft.
Kelly knows Southwest Florida will pay special Nike LeBron 11 attention to Notre Dame as it follows Heuerman, though the coach added that the Irish already have a great fan base in the area. Kelly also will attend a Notre Dame event in Sarasota this week.