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2023 Notre Dame depth chart projection: Irish running back prepared to run it back

| Friday, January 20, 2023

The Irish return the key pieces from their vaunted rushing attack in 2022, and they’ll look to establish more consistency to bring the offense to another level in 2023.

2022 Summary

It’s fair to say that the running back room was by some distance Notre Dame’s strongest position group in 2022. With the Irish passing offense oftentimes limited, offensive coordinator Tommy Rees leaned on the ground attack to set the tone in nearly every game over the back half of the season. And set the tone it did. The Irish exceeded 200 team rushing yards in 5 of their last 7 games while posting a 6-1 record. 

Part of what made the running back room click so well was the balance struck between different player profiles. Every back that played significant snaps brought something unique to the table that opposing defenses would have to contend with. Sophomore Audric Estime provided the power, using his 220-plus pound frame to wear down defenses and bully his way through the line of scrimmage in short yardage situations. Junior Chris Tyree brought flash, adding a dynamic playmaker to the room that Rees could deploy in the backfield and as a slot receiver. Sophomore Logan Diggs offered a nice blend of both Tyree’s speed and Estime’s strength. Diggs also led all backs in receiving yards. 

Key Departures

Nothing but good news in this department for the Irish. There was some speculation that Chris Tyree could enter the transfer portal after he saw his snap counts decrease over the back half of the season. However, the junior running back opted to stay in South Bend for another year.

Transfer Portal Additions

Unsurprising given the amount of returnees in an already-crowded running back room, Rees and running back coach Deland McCullough opted not to take any transfers at the position.

Freshman Additions

After two late decommitments, the Irish will add one freshman running back to the 2023 depth chart. Consensus top-100 recruit Jeremiyah Love profiles more in the Diggs mold of a hybrid back than a pure power or speed addition. While Love certainly doesn’t lack in the speed department — the high school track star boasts a Missouri 5A state title in the 100 meters — it’s not the only aspect of his game. All scouting reports of Love mention his receiving ability as a major aspect of his skillset. Rees will all but certainly utilize him in the passing game either next season or further down the line.

Projected two-deep

The two-deep for the running back spot is either the easiest or hardest to figure out on the 2023 roster, depending on your perspective. On one hand, the starting options are pretty much all sharpied in. Estime, Diggs and Tyree all logged over 250 snaps last season. Rees settled on Estime and Diggs as names 1a and 1b and Tyree as a change of pace option. Given the impressive results once that rotation emerged, there’s little evidence to suggest it will be tweaked heading into 2023.

What does allow for intrigue, however, is the back end of the rotation. Jadarian Price, for instance, received strong reviews throughout training camp last offseason and was a Blue-Gold game standout. Though a summer achilles injury ended his 2022 campaign before it could start, it stands to reason that if he makes a full recovery he could potentially push Tyree for playing time further down the committee depth chart. The same applies to the aforementioned Love, who at 6’0, 190 pounds, likely doesn’t have a long way to go on the physical end of being game-ready for college football. While Estime and Diggs are locked in to play big roles in 2023, how Rees and McCullough split minutes between the veteran Tyree, the wild card Price and the rookie Love remains to be seen and could be one of the most interesting things to keep an eye out for in the 2023 Blue-Gold game.

Contact J.J. Post at [email protected]

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