Scholarship Update & Mega Roster Review

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
21 Sophomores
22 Juniors
19 Seniors
13 Grad Students (Canteen, Cage included)
91 Scholarships

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:

Tier 1
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.

Tier 2
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.

Tier 3
DT Pete Mokwuah
OG Jimmy Byrne

Academic seniors and not receiving any playing time tells the story for these guys.

The Roster

*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. 

QUARTERBACK
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.

RUNNING BACK
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.

WIDE RECEIVER
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.

TIGHT END
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.

OFFENSIVE TACKLES
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)
Commits (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)
Commits (0)

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.

DEFENSIVE TACKLE
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.

BUCK LINEBACKER
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.

MIKE LINEBACKER
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.

ROVER
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.

CORNERBACK
Roster (5): Watkins r-JR (348), Love SO (374), Crawford r-SO (196), Pride SO (46), Vaughn SO (46)
Commits (0)

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.

SAFETY
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?

SPECIAL TEAMS
Roster (4): Newsome r-JR, Yoon JR, Shannon r-FR, Doerer FR
Commits (0)

The hunt for a young punter is just around the corner!

By |2018-05-09T22:25:52+00:00October 11th, 2017|Football|60 Comments

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Scarponi
Scarponi

Great stuff!

Did Okwara not redshirt last year? For some reason I thought he had.

dannan14
dannan14

Okwara played in 11 games last year

MTI98
MTI98

I’m not an NFL scout, but from what I’ve seen EQSB needs to get significantly stronger and play more physical before he’s ready for Sundays. Unless the second half of the season is a drastic improvement, he should come back. If he doesn’t, he’s getting bad advice from someone.

Irishchamp23
Irishchamp23

I’m guessing part of the thinking about whether he’d leave or not is his happiness or lack thereof with ND (before it was the strength program and now – if he is unhappy – it has got to be that he doesn’t have a QB to get him the ball and his lack of production).

But I agree he hasn’t done anything so far to distinguish himself as a player to leave early on the merits of his play.

gbsk
gbsk

I am also worried that his production and the wideout production this year will affect the recruitment of his brother. If I was Amon Ra, I would not go to ND unless something drastic changes.

DrIck
DrIck

Start praying to a god of all gods or sun-god, whoever that may be.

HolyCrossHog
HolyCrossHog

Great writeup. Maybe this year’s ceiling will be next year’s floor.

nd09hls12
nd09hls12

I think it’s hard to say Weisher is Tier 2 – if he wants to stay, they can’t not take him. It just might be in his best interest to do a 5th-year transfer where he isn’t splitting snaps. Conversely, it seems like Canteen is really Tier 2.5; he would be a luxury take, and it seems highly unlikely that we’re going to have space for luxury takes if we’re already at 91 scholarships without even having any CB commitments.

Russell Knox
Russell Knox

Wow that d-line. Entering the season I thought we had $#/t for players on d-line. Easton is a very good coach. I would say he and Denbrock were the two best coaches Kelly brought with him. It just blows me away how effective Elston has been with the same players that I thought just sucked last year.

I loved the article Eric, thanks.

juicebox
juicebox

Didn’t people used to hate Elston for some reason? Does anyone remember why?

He has always seemed to be a really good DL coach. His time with LBs certainly wasn’t as good, but was anyone a good D coach with BVG running things? And he took what looked like a potential top 10 pick in Jaylon and made him just that, pre-injury. A lot of players with that potential (say Matthew Thomas from that same class) don’t live up to their potential. His time at ND and even Cincy have been those schools best DLs.

AND he has been a good recruiter and recruiting coordinator, despite flying a bit under the radar.

cwod
cwod

I think also people thought the DL didn’t play that well in 2014? And that’s why they moved him to LBs and hired Gilmore?

If I remember correctly, people thought his players held up well against the run but weren’t developing as push rushers? Or something like that.

MikeyB
MikeyB

Man, look at that 2-deep for 2018. How many positions will have somewhat inexperienced players in a position to see the field? 3? Maybe 4?
RB: If Adams leaves, it’s likely we’ll see a major RB by committee situation. Even then, those 3/4 guys have gotten snaps this year.
TE: If Mack were to leave, you’re looking at Wright and Kmet getting a ton of run. If he stays, they’ll still get snaps but not in big moments.
LB/Rover: A little short on experienced depth here.

Barring significant attrition, that’s basically it. Every other spot (except for perhaps one O-Line position) is going to have both a starter and backup that’s gotten significant playing time. I can’t remember the last time you could say that. Obviously we’ll lose a few quality starters (McGlinchey, Nelson, maybe Adams). But the depth across the board will put us in a great position to compete with everybody on our schedule (even if we have some injuries). I don’t know what the ceiling for 2018 will be, but the floor should be pretty high when you have that kind of depth.

Irishchamp23
Irishchamp23

And if Adams leaves it will be fun to see what Williams can really do (hoping he stays healthy) with the bulk of the carries.

MikeyB
MikeyB

Based on his usage this year, I’m not certain Kelly would give him the bulk of the carries. I certainly hope that’s the case, but those first few games he rarely saw the field. I think it would end up being (or at least start as) a pretty even timeshare among him, McIntosh, and Jones.

hooks orpik
hooks orpik

Unfortunately, I agree. Really for next year they should use Williams like they use Adams now as the main guy, and then rotate the others in for drives here and there. I doubt Kelly will though, since he’s concerned about Williams’ run blocking ability. But he’s so much better than Jones I’d rather the motion TE’s/h-backs in and flush Williams out on routes or find creative ideas like that to get around it.

IndyIrish
IndyIrish

Eric & Staff — I’m not sure if this is the best place to post this, so feel free to delete if need be … I’m not sure if other readers would agree, but I think it would be really cool to have a forum here on the site. Everyone here seems to be mature and intelligent, and a forum would be an excellent place for all of us to discuss various musings. Let me know what you think! Thanks again and Go Irish!

a domer
a domer

I’ve talked to some people who are convinced Tranquill is playing his way into the draft. Not sure I see it personally, but I understand the tweener LB is coming into vogue in the NFL. Could it end up being the Owusu-Koramoah show at Rover next year?

spider-man
spider-man

I wondered this myself, but I find it hard to imagine that he would be picked in the first couple rounds, so that might influence him to stay

Publius2010
Publius2010

Yeah, Tranquill has played great this season, but I don’t think he has the freak athleticism that would make him a early round draft pick as a hybrid player.

Clearwall
Clearwall

Looking at the numbers, the talent at certain positions and other things, damn we should be a monster of a team next year. So many returning core players at absolutely necessary power positions. Seems like the entire OL and DL will return as 5th year players or Seniors. This is gonna be a fun few years, I think

MikeyB
MikeyB

The 2 best O-Linemen will be going pro unfortunately. But that’s really my only concern (along with potentially Adams). Can the running game not come crashing back down to earth with the 3 most important pieces of it all in the NFL? If yes, we have a chance to be really really good.

juicebox
juicebox

Running game? Pshhhh. BK laughs at your idea of a running game with a returning starter at QB.

MDIRISH
MDIRISH

Aside from the romance of MANBALL I wouldn’t mind being more pass heavy if the defense continues to improve, which is historically the more problematic side of the ball for ND.

The Guys Get Shirts
The Guys Get Shirts

It feels like Nico Fertitta has been in the program forever. Maybe it’s because, in my mind, he’s fungible with Austin Collinsworth and I’m blurring their eligibility together into an Austico Collinstitta amalgam.

MikeyB
MikeyB

Pretty sure Austin Collinsworth was the reincarnation of Mike Anello.

Publius2010
Publius2010

Collinsworth never broke someone’s femur during a punt return.

The Guys Get Shirts
The Guys Get Shirts

I was going to say something like, “Nah, Anello made tackles,” but yours is better.

MikeyB
MikeyB

Sure, I loved Mike Anello’s special teams play too, but Austin Collinsworth had twice as many tackles in his career.

gbsk
gbsk

I’m just wondering about the receivers. ND gets mostly 4*s. Part of the problem is definitely the QB. I am wondering if a major part of the problem is the coaching. Should the receiver’s coach get canned?

Russell Knox
Russell Knox

You are wondering if a position coach should be fired based on 6 games?

Publius2010
Publius2010

I’m fine with this if it means we can Tommy Rees

KG
KG

I read this initially and thought “did we just make ‘Tommy Rees’ a verb?”

Scarponi
Scarponi

Same.

MikeyB
MikeyB

*Tom