Notre Dame summer camp hits the road in search of No. 1 RB

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Notre Dame announced Thursday that summer camp will open Aug. 5 in Marion, Ind., and that the squad would return to South Bend on Aug. 9.

The Irish will hold four practices at the Shiloh Park Retreat and Conference Center in Marion before returning home.

"We instituted a similar type off-site program for training camp at the University of Cincinnati, and it played a huge role in the success of our team," said coach Brian Kelly, citing his former job as the coach of the Bearcats.

This will be the first time since the mid-1990s when Lou Holtz was coach that Notre Dame will hold any portion of its preseason camp off-campus. The Irish traveled to Culver, Ind., under Holtz.

The most-watched position battle during camp will be at tailback. The Irish lost their top two rushers from last season, and junior George Atkinson III -- whose dad played defensive back for the Oakland Raiders from 1968-77 -- is the front-runner going into camp. Atkinson has excellent speed, but his ability to run between the tackles is a concern.

Junior Amir Carlisle, who began his career at USC, is considered the main contender. Two true freshmen from Florida, Greg Bryant and Tarean Folston, also could be in the mix. Bryant was a consensus top-10 running back nationally.

Also worth watching will be whether senior QB Tommy Rees can play mistake-free football. The academic ineligibility of returning starter Everett Golson means Rees will get the starting job.

True freshman outside linebacker Jaylon Smith, a consensus top-10 player nationally, also will be in the spotlight. The Irish play a 3-4 base defense and lose just one linebacker, Manti Te'o, who played on the inside.

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