Categories
Sports

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

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 jpost2@nd.edu.

Categories
Sports

Notre Dame National Signing Day updates, analysis

Notre Dame continued to build their official signing class on Wednesday, inking 24 new recruits in the morning hours. Four-star running back Jayden Limar flipped to Oregon, and five-star Peyton Bowen announced the same move at 11 a.m central time. Here’s a look at every recruit that has signed with Notre Dame on National Signing Day, plus overall analysis of the class.

Instant Analysis, Grades of the 2023 recruiting class

Two-way Athlete Brandyn Hillman

Offense

QB, Kenny Minchey

RB, Jeremiyah Love

TE, Cooper Flanagan

Wide Receivers

Jaden Greathouse

Braylon James

Kaleb Smith

Rico Flores Jr.

Offensive Line

Charles Jagusah

Sam Pendleton

Sullivan Absher

Joe Otting

Chris Terek

Defense

Linebackers

Drayk Bowen

Preston Zinter

Jaiden Ausberry

Defensive Backs

S Ben Minich

S Adon Shuler

CB Micah Bell

CB Christian Gray

Defensive Line

DE Armel Mukam

DE Brenan Vernon

DE Boubacar Traore

DT Devan Houstan

Categories
Sports

Jeremiyah Love commits, brings explosive running to the Irish

Running back Jeremiyah Love verbally committed to Notre Dame on Oct. 15, 2022, on his fourth official visit to Notre Dame. Love committed to Notre Dame despite receiving offers from Alabama, Georgia, Michigan, LSU, Oregon, USC and Texas A&M among other schools. With national signing day upon college football, Love is officially locked in with the Irish.

Love received a 6.0 rating on Rivals, which places him in the higher end of the “All-American Candidate” category. This category rates Love as a high end four star recruit and among the top 300 recruits in the nation. This category is reserved for recruits that are expected to be drafted to the NFL in the later part of the first round or on the second day of the draft.

The St. Louis native is listed at 6’1”and 188 pounds. Love has the capability to produce big plays in the passing and running game. In his last two years of high school, Love averaged 9.7 yards per carry and 19.7 yards per catch. While he has a great initial burst, his speed on long runs is what sets him apart from other recruits. 

Love’s athleticism was on full display in his senior season with Christian Brothers College High School, especially in the postseason where he led his team to the state title. In the postseason, Love rushed for 661 yards and 12 touchdowns off of 60 carries and recorded five receptions for 127 yards, including three touchdowns. In the state final, Love had his best game of his high school career, rushing for 211 yards off of just 19 carries.

Kyle Kelly, a Notre Dame recruiting analyst at Rivals, said the Irish are very intrigued by Love’s athleticism.

“Jeremiyah Love is an intriguing one. He’s a running back and overall athlete out of Missouri, and Notre Dame really likes it,” Kelly said.

Kelly could see Notre Dame utilizing Love at different positions because of his pass-catching abilities and two-way talent.

“He can see some time at receiver — he also has the potential to play cornerback, although I think Notre Dame is going to try to keep him on the offensive side of the ball,” Kelly said.

Love is likely the only running back recruit in the 2023 class, as fellow recruit Jayden Limar projects to flip to Oregon. Love will join a talented Irish backfield that is led by sophomores Audric Estime and Logan Diggs and junior Chris Tyree. It is likely that Love will not see much action his freshman season behind this talented group of running backs, but Love could be utilized in a slot role if the Irish are desperate for wide receivers in 2023. Although he might not see action immediately, Love projects to be an integral part of the Irish offense a couple of years down the road.

Contact Nate Moller at nmoller2@nd.edu