Irish sort out other depth chart options

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- After the quarterback decision everyone had been anticipating was finally announced Thursday, Brian Kelly revealed a few more depth chart items that would have qualified for headlines on almost any other day.

Freshmen KeiVarae Russell and Davonte Neal will have prominent roles for Notre Dame this season after arriving on campus just two months ago. Russell, a converted running back, is now the starting cornerback replacing Lo Wood after the junior ruptured his left Achilles tendon, which was successfully operated on Wednesday. Wood should be back in six months.

Neal, meanwhile, will be the Irish's season-opening punt returner, with George Atkinson III once again returning kickoffs.

Kelly also said that versatile reserve Nick Martin would probably replace either starting offensive tackle if he were to get injured, with Conor Hanratty looking like the best reserve option at guard. Starting right guard Mike Golic Jr., who replaced center Braxston Cave (foot) during the final four games of 2011, would again be the top center option in event of an injury.

When Tate Nichols (patella subluxation in left knee) returns, Kelly said, he will need to compete with Martin and freshman Ronnie Stanley to get into the tackle rotation.

Freshman Romeo Okwara is currently the No. 2 drop linebacker in place of Danny Spond (head). Kelly said there is no timetable for Spond's return.