The latest edition of Five Wide Fullbacks arrives discussing the new redshirt rules, Demetris Robertson, ESPN’s take on the most underrated players, new digits for freshmen, and updates from the World Cup.

1 The NCAA continues its modern changes by creating a new redshirt rule whereby players are allowed action in any 4 games during the season without losing eligibility. What’s the best part to the change?

This should be a cool new rule that will give more freshmen the opportunity to play. That side of it is obvious.  My favorite part is going to be the freshmen who don’t get to play. For the players who aren’t legitimately injured it’s going to be so awkward. I’d imagine we’ll begin to see an increase in fake injuries, more or less, to protect the reputation of young players.

Take Darnell Ewell, for example. If he was let’s say 20% better last year does he get thrown on the field for 20 snaps spread across 4 games? Or do we hear about a mysterious injury that prevents playing time? Or, what about the players who get 10 snaps in a couple games and the coaching staff is like, “Yeah, we can’t keep doing this.” That player sits out the second half of the season, doesn’t get any playing time during a couple blowouts, and we now have a data point that they’re a little further behind than we thought.

I also think there will be players who think this is going to bring more legit playing time, only to see them thrown on special teams late in the season because why not?

These are the moments from the new rule I look forward to dissecting.

2 Less than a week ago former Notre Dame recruiting target Demetris Robertson–he of 18-wheeler visit fame–announced he was leaving Cal after just 2 seasons. On a scale of 1 to 10 how shocking is this?

Full disclosure, I loved Robertson’s recruitment so much and it’s the last one I really followed intensely because it was just so weird. THIS article from about 27 months ago captured most of the magic a few weeks before he would choose California via a hand-made Berkeley Bear drawing that was upside down on the easel.

Anyway, having him transfer could be seen from a million miles away. I can’t even blame him at this point. He was injured for most of last year and even into this past spring with the coach who recruited him gone and the quarterback situation not that great. He kind of picked Cal (so it seemed) out of nowhere after them being out of the picture for most of his recruitment. These things are very, very predictable even when we keep being told, “This kid is different!”

I believe Robertson was supposed to major in engineering, so we were told numerous times a couple years ago. By the looks of it he was an American Studies major at Cal. So, another data point to pay attention to what a recruit does and not what they say.

3 ESPN recently wrote an article on the most underrated players on each of the Top 25 pre-season teams. For the Irish that player was center Sam Mustipher. Do you agree?

Mustipher is a solid choice. He checks the boxes as someone who has enough experience and resume so far in his career and you know he’s going to play as many minutes as possible. I might argue his ceiling isn’t terribly high and so by late January it could be a little bit of a head scratching pick. But as I’ve said in the past, the center position is always so hard to get a read on. He could be 3rd-team All-American or he could be entirely mediocre.

I’d throw Alize Mack, Chase Claypool, and Shaun Crawford in the mix because they’ve flashed some really high-level football and could grow into stars in a way I’m not sure a center can reach in college. Each had enough of an inconsistent 2017 to warrant flying under the radar heading into 2018.

4 The full freshmen numbers for Notre Dame players have made the rounds across the web. Which are your most favorite and least favorite?

We have an excellent crop of freshmen numbers, maybe the best I can remember.


The only ones I’m not a big fan of are most of the players in the teens. Moala (#13), Boykin (#16), Wilkins (#18), Brown (#12), Justin Ademilola (#19), and Keys (#13) I’m not feeling those. Even though Jurkovec wore #15 in high school I’ve never liked that number for a quarterback and it makes me think of Tebow.

Here are the best numbers:

Allen #7
Simon #33
Bracy #10
Lenzy #25
Tremble #24
Austin #4
Flemister #20

Great job, guys.

5 We’re 40 games into the World Cup so far, who has been the most exciting team, the most disappointing team, and the biggest story line as we slowly move towards the knockout rounds?

I’m not sure if they are the most exciting team overall so far but Argentina is must-watch drama right now. They’ve kind of overthrown their manager and are operating in a player-led coaching mutiny. They were thisssss close to being knocked out but survived with a 2-1 win over Nigeria yesterday to advance. Maradona was there going crazy, flipping the bird, and apparently collapsed afterward. This has the feel of a World Cup win or they’re losing 8-0 in the next round.

Uruguay, Croatia, Mexico, England, and Belgium have been the most dominant teams so far which is exciting, although it’s not really adjusted for competition. All 5 of those teams could drop out of the tournament in the next round and no one would be surprised.

Poland was without a doubt the most disappointing team, zero points through 2 games and already knocked out. Their stock was a little bit too high in some corners but they’ve played so poorly.

I feel like Germany is the biggest story line. The defending champs were super close to being on the brink of disaster prior to a wonder-goal by Toni Kroos. It’s so hard to repeat and they still have work to do against South Korea coming up.

By the way, in my preview we had a discussion about draws. Only 8 of the 40 matches (20%) have been draws with our first scoreless draw coming yesterday in the France-Denmark match.