Our last major update came in early June and since then a lot has happened with actual games being played, several roster moves, and plenty to discuss for the future. Let us not waste more on an intro.
Out of Eligibility Following the 2017 Season:
TE Durham Smythe
WR Cam Smith
OL Mike McGlinchey
OL Hunter Bivin
DE Andrew Trumbetti
LB Nyles Morgan
LB Greer Martini
In past editions we’ve had nose guard Daniel Cage above but he’s taking the year off and would be eligible for a 5th season next fall. Whether he actually comes back and plays is a different story but for now we’re counting him in the future grad student numbers.
Also dropping off this list prior to the season was tight end Tyler Luatua whose strange career came to an end with a medical redshirt.
We’ve added Arizona State transfer Cam Smith who is playing his final year of college football in South Bend.
2018-19 Academic Classes:
16 Verbal Commits
13 Grad Students (Canteen, Cage included)
As always, things are getting full with National Signing Day a scant 4 months away. Crazy how close that seems, right?
In recent months verbal commitments have been accepted from wide receiver Kevin Austin, rover Shayne Simon, linebacker Jack Lamb, tight end George Takacs, running back Jahmir Smith, and defensive tackle Ja’Mion Franklin. Shortly after our last publication wideout Braden Lenzy flipped to Oregon.
In other roster news, offensive lineman Parker Boudreaux transferred to UCF in the summer and corner Ashton White is no longer on the team and will seek a transfer in the spring after graduating.
Additionally, the Irish welcomed Navy safety transfer Alohi Gilman (not eligible for 2017) and Michigan wideout transfer Freddy Canteen (torn labrum early this season, eligible for 2018).
List of Eligible 2018 Grad Students:
OG Quenton Nelson
C Sam Mustipher
OG Alex Bars
S Drue Tranquill
DT Jonathan Bonner
CB Nick Watkins
DE Jay Hayes
P Tyler Newsome
Save the entry of Quenton Nelson into the NFL Draft the Irish should happily welcome all of these Tier 1 players back for 2018. In terms of recruiting space this isn’t great–7 grad players is on the higher side for Kelly teams–but in terms of 2018 stability this is a tremendous group. Everyone is a quality college starter but not so great as to leave eligibility on the table and weaken the next campaign.
TE Nic Weishar
WR Freddy Canteen
DT Daniel Cage
We’ve had to add Cage here and he’s more of a health concern than anything. The consensus opinion with him is that it’s going to be tough for him to come back. I said it prior to the season–and his season ending injury doesn’t help his cause–but I don’t see Canteen returning for a second season with Notre Dame. Far too injured throughout his career at a competitive position with players virtually never taking two years of grad work.
Weishar is the wildcard. He’s not really making a big enough impact to be a Tier 1 player and could choose to play elsewhere for 2018. At the same time, he could find himself atop the tight end depth chart for spring ball.
DT Pete Mokwuah
OG Jimmy Byrne
Academic seniors and not receiving any playing time tells the story for these guys.
*Snap counts through 6 games are in parentheses after each player names and eligibility.
**Players are ordered from their pre-season predicted spots, offering some fun wrt the snap counts.
Roster (3): Wimbush r-SO (328), Book r-FR (117), Davis FR (0)
Commits (1): Jurkovec
Things are looking up here where Wimbush’s struggles passing the ball could mean he’s much more likely to stick around campus for the long haul. Assuming he gets better in this area that’s quality stability desperately needed. With Book showcasing himself to be a capable backup that’s great too.
We still don’t know what we have with Davis, but the highly regarded Phil Jurkovec is having one heck of a senior season ripping the WPIAL to shreds with 1,878 passing yards (76.5% accuracy), 332 rushing yards, 28 total touchdowns, and 3 interceptions through 7 games.
Roster (5): Adams JR (272), Williams JR (30), Jones r-FR (81), McIntosh r-FR (83), Holmes FR (9)
Commits (2): Stepp, Smith
Josh Adams has been so good this year I’ll actually feel bad if he doesn’t go pro. You have to think all of his advisers will tell him to leave, too.
The newfound quality depth at this position offers a bright future although it remains to be seen if someone could achieve the levels of dominance found in Adams. The staff won’t hurt for bodies in that quest, though.
Roster (11): St. Brown JR (314), Stepherson, SO (23), Sanders JR (26), Boykin r-SO (100), Finke r-SO (120), Claypool SO (227), McKinley SO (0), Young FR (59), Armstrong FR (0), Canteen r-JR (39), Smith r-SR (204)
Commits (2): Austin, Jones
Unless something drastic changes this position is going to be the talk of the off-season where a million questions could be asked. Does St. Brown actually go pro? If he comes back is there a world where Claypool begins next season as the favored No. 1 receiver? Are we giving up on C.J. Sanders?
Remember, the team is giving Javon McKinley a redshirt this year so he returns to the fold in 2018, as well. Factor in Kevin Austin–who has the look of an impact freshman–and there could be an incredible multitude of options to sift through next year.
Roster (5): Smythe r-SR (261), Mack r-SO (227), Weishar r-JR (105), Wright FR (17), Kmet FR (34)
Commits (1): Takacs
Prior to the season I predicted that Mack would have the 6th most receptions in school history for a tight end (anywhere from 41 to 46 catches) and even though it feels like he’s disappointed a little bit he’s not that far off that productivity. He’s also not that far off more consistency and being a highly valued NFL pick at his position.
The future of Mack drastically changes the outlook for this position next year, obviously.
Roster (6): McGlinchey r-SR (412), Kraemer r-FR (254), Eichenberg r-FR (36), Bivin r-SR (68), Hainsey FR (234), Lugg FR (0)
Commits (2): Mabry, Dirksen
The big story this season has been Hainsey being on pace for over 500 snaps as a true freshman. Whether he stays at tackle for the long run is irrelevant compared to the fact that the program won’t have to replace him until 2021.
Eichenberg continues to intrigue me, going from a virtual co-starter in the spring to the 8th (by snaps) most used lineman of the season.
INTERIOR OFFENSIVE LINEMEN
Roster (7): Nelson r-JR (412), Mustipher r-JR (412), Bars, JR (354), Banks FR (0), Byrne r-JR (19), Ruhland r-SO (36), Gibbons, FR (0)
When Alex Bars left the North Carolina game the staff originally put Hunter Bivin in his place then switched to Kraemer at right guard and Hainsey at right tackle. Next year, we’re likely to see Bars at left guard and Kraemer full-time at right guard.
It would seem at least one of the current commits (Dirksen the more likely, perhaps?) should become a guard in college and that might be needed. After 2018 a pair of starters will be replaced and more talent needs to be infused on the interior.
STRONG-SIDE DEFENSIVE END
Roster (4): J. Hayes r-JR (206), Trumbetti SR (243), Kareem SO (107), Ogundeji r-FR (14)
Kareem has a sack, Ogundeji should have a sack (dumb roughing the passer penalty) and while Hayes nor Trumbetti haven’t registered a sack yet they are playing the best ball of their careers. The depth being utilized is amazing.
WEAK-SIDE DEFENSIVE END
Roster (4): D. Hayes SO (257), Okwara SO (149), MacCollister FR (0), Wardlow FR (0)
Commits (1): Ju. Ademilola
There was a time when I thought Okwara’s sophomore season would be wasted like his freshman year. No more! The future here now looks incredibly bright with a pair of budding true sophomores.
Roster (10): Cage, SR (0), Tillery JR (326), Bonner r-JR (227), Taylor r-SO (0), Dew-Treadway r-SO (32), Mokwuah r-JR (0), Tiassum r-SO (28), Ewell FR (0), Tagovailoa-Amosa FR (151), Hinish FR (77)
Commits (2): Ja. Ademilola, Franklin
What’s amazing is that Cage, Taylor, and Ewell at one point prior to the season would’ve been in most people’s Top 5 at this position and yet all 3 haven’t played a single down. Somehow, the team is getting good work from Tillery and Bonner, plus an admirable season from MTA, and to a lesser extent, Hinish too.
Roster (3): Martini SR (228), Coney JR (231), White FR (0)
Commits (1): Oghoufo
As expected, Martini and Coney are splitting time while the latter backs up Morgan in the middle when he goes out, like happened briefly last week. If Coney moves inside next year as expected that leaves a big hole at this position.
Roster (4): Morgan SR (340), Jon. Jones r-FR (31), Jam. Jones (51), SO, Adams FR (0)
Commits (1): Bauer, Lamb
During fall camp we saw Jamir Jones move slightly ahead of Jonathan Jones and the snaps affirm that. Interestingly, the former is sitting with just 1 assisted tackle on the season and the latter with 4 solo stops and a pass break-up.
True freshman David Adams recently tweeted that he’ll be having another shoulder surgery which isn’t great news for his long-term prospects.
Roster (4): Tranquill r-JR (340), Bilal r-SO (128), Morgan r-Fr (7), Owusu-Koramoah FR (0)
Commits (1): Simon
My Boy Bilal is a candidate to move to Buck next year, and while he hasn’t made huge waves yet, he has a sneaky 2.5 years left, still plays a decent amount, and his 8 solo tackles are tied for 10th on the team.
I kind of thought D.J. Morgan would be left for dead as a bottom 10 roster player but he was curiously praised recently by Brian Kelly and seeing the field in any capacity is a big step forward. At any rate, with Tranquill presumably coming back next year there’s a lot of talent here for one position.
Roster (5): Watkins r-JR (348), Love SO (374), Crawford r-SO (196), Pride SO (46), Vaughn SO (46)
Troy Pride has played a little more than expected, while Donte Vaughn most definitely has not played as much as expected. That’s the one curious move with the corners so far, they’re riding the top 3 very hard right now.
Now, we just need some commits for the future.
Roster (7): Coleman JR (379), Elliott SO (284), Studstill SO (166), Robertson FR (37), Fertitta JR (9), Genmark Heath FR (36), Gilman, r-FR (0)
Commits (1): Allen
Just having decent play and some stability here is such a weird and foreign feeling. The top 3 players here now have a strong grip on the future with plenty of eligibility remaining between them. Are we going to actually see…dare I say it…an entirely competent two-deep or maybe 5 good safeties in 2018 for Elko to work with?
Roster (4): Newsome r-JR, Yoon JR, Shannon r-FR, Doerer FR
The hunt for a young punter is just around the corner!