Estime prepares to explode in new-look offense
Madeline Ladd | Friday, April 21, 2023
Junior running back Audric Estime was a force in the Notre Dame offense this past season, but still has yet to reach his full potential. In what was a somewhat rough start to 2022, Estime’s performance trajectory paralleled that of the entire team. A goal line fumble in the North Carolina game was followed by a critical fumble that ended a possible comeback in the Stanford loss. Finally, a first-half fumble in the UNLV game led to Estime getting benched.
Nevertheless, the 5-foot-11-inch, 227-pound Nyack, New York native regrouped in the Syracuse game by rushing for 123 yards and two touchdowns. His punishing running style helped him end the season leading the Irish with 920 rushing yards and 11 rushing touchdowns. Most importantly, he did not fumble a single time over the rest of the year. Similarly, the Irish as a team seemed to get back on track after the Syracuse game, winning their next four, including a prime-time dismantling of then-No. 4 Clemson.
Estime played in all 13 games, making two starts. His 11 rushing touchdowns rank 10th-most all-time in a single season for Notre Dame. Hungry to surpass 1,000 yards in 2023, Estime enters his junior season with another year of experience under his belt. He has honed in on fat loss and muscle maintenance through his diet and workout regimen. Estime’s focus on developing speed and refining his pass-blocking technique in the offseason will help him contribute to a more up-tempo offense come fall.
“I feel like I can get better at it,” Estime said regarding pass protection. “Just be more detailed, bringing my feet with me more, using my hands instead of my forearms, just being more detailed and block recognition. I feel like [running backs] Coach Deland [McCullough] emphasizes that every day. And that’s something that we’re all getting better at as a whole group.”
The 2022 offense was laser-focused on repeatedly running the ball behind the team’s talented offensive line. However, the scheme of new offensive coordinator Gerad Parker, the addition of a potential Heisman Trophy candidate in quarterback Sam Hartman and a fresh group of talented wide receivers will open up more running room for Estime. Returning senior running back Chris Tyree has been seen in practice as a pass-catching back out of the slot, which will cause opponents to spread their defense. The powerful tandem of Estime and junior Logan Diggs will be joined by Tyree, sophomores Jadarian Price and Gi’Bran Payne and incoming freshman Jeremiyah Love in what is a very talented and deep running back room.
A new-look Estime has high expectations this year to build on his accomplishments of last. The similarly new-look Notre Dame offense will rely on him to lead them to a potential berth in the College Football Playoff.
Saturday’s Blue-Gold Game provides Estime an opportunity to return to the field and get back in action as a member of the Blue team. He will join junior quarterback Tyler Buchner and sophomore wide receiver Tobias Merriweather. The game is set for 2 p.m. and will air on Peacock.