There have been seasons when we’ve had fewer than 10 players featured in our Reviewing the Redshirts off-season series. Today, we will cover 13 players alone just on the offensive side of the ball. There’s a little bit of everything here including, elite recruits, under the radar players, and some with much to prove early in their careers.
Scores listed are in order: 247 Composite, 18S overall grade, and my personal grades from last February.
I liked Tremble a whole lot coming out of high school because he offered a lot of YAC potential and could be a sneaky good weapon in the passing game. He’s definitely an intriguing H-back type. The problem is he’ll have to be able to block and is he going to be good enough to take snaps away from Brock Wright in this role? Tremble is only 6’3″ 228 and definitely isn’t your typical Notre Dame tight end. If his blocking doesn’t hold up he might be a guy who can flex out pretty much exclusively and hope he’s a mistmatch in the slot.
I’m not sure what to make of Takacs other than he has great size (6’6″ 250 lbs while nursing an injury, impressive) and was very much in the mold of an average tight end recruit against the long line of stellar recruits traditionally signed by the Irish. Adding him and Tremble to the mix with plenty of playing time there for the taking is going to be an interesting story line for spring.
We don’t know much about this group other than Patterson was the only one to get on the field this year (2 games) and would seemingly have a huge leg up on his classmates going into 2019. Patterson was also being favored at tackle–and working as a backup at least for a while–which could put a bit of pressure on both Eichenberg and Hainsey this fall.
I thought Mabry was the biggest project of the bunch and he’ll have more work to do to add to his 270-pound frame. I can’t remember the last lineman to truly struggle with getting larger so this isn’t huge issue. But, he’s starting from a position of strength that might be equaled by some of the incoming freshman.
Both Dirksen and Jones should immediately proceed to become the best guards or center possible. I know Dirksen spent time at tackle this past year but I find it hard for him to stay there with the 2019 class coming in now. Bottom line, it’s kind of crazy how low-rated this 2018 class was a year ago. That doesn’t mean no one is going to contribute but it’s going to be really difficult not to get lost in the shuffle for some of these guys.
The off-season buzzword is “speed” and you’re going to hear a lot about it. As the president of the Nothing is More Important than Speed Irish Fan Club I’m on board. However, it’s only early January and we’re already way, way too overboard with getting speed on the field being a magical cure-all for the offense. Let’s slow that roll.
All eyes will be on Lenzy, no doubt. He’s both the fastest and most decorated of this bunch coming out of high school. Adding strength surely is the big factor moving forward as his 170 pounds on a 5’11” frame is really skinny even for a receiver. Turning into a starter doesn’t seem like it’s in the cards but if he rises to the 4th receiver in 2019 with 15 to 20 receptions that would be a solid first season.
I’m not sure what to make of Keys as he’s another tiny receiver (5’10” 170 lbs) who I really liked but there’s always the caveat that we have no idea how he’d be integrated into the slot when Chris Finke is the established starter. We’ve had years where the starting slot receiver was pushed to the side and I can’t remember a time when a backup received quality development. Perhaps Keys is someone who challenges as a return man?
I wasn’t very high on Micah Jones and I’m certain the patience for big, lanky receivers will be short this off-season from the fans perspective. Yet, with Boykin leaving for the NFL Draft, the career of Javon McKinley sputtering to a close, and Isaiah Robertson still a complete unknown since moving to receiver, it wouldn’t be shocking if Jones quickly moves up the “W” wideout depth chart.
When we graded Wilkins last year everyone realized he might not last at cornerback. It didn’t take long for him to switch to receiver and there was a moment there during fall camp where it looked like Wilkins might be a factor this past season. He did participate in 2 games which is not nothing. Wilkins also has a body-type at 6’2″ 185 pounds that really separates him from just about every other receiver on the team. If you’re looking for a dark horse impact player for 2019 you could pick worse.
I was certain at least one of these backs wouldn’t redshirt with the 4-game suspension of Dexter Williams and Jafar Armstrong missing some time last year. Credit to Dexter who really carried the load in a way that seemed unimaginable prior to his senior season and all but forced these freshmen to remain on the sidelines.
Smith and Flemister will be in a tough spot for 2019. I’d imagine all of our grades for incoming freshman Kyren Williams will exceed both of them and Williams will be on campus for spring practice, too. Going on a nice, slow development plan can be dangerous game at a position where impact players don’t typically need much time to see the field. If Williams turns out to be that kind of player–and Armstrong/Jones are locked in as the top guys–these rising redshirt freshmen will need to make a big jump very soon for carries.
Here stands the 24th best recruit of the Brian Kelly era as I try to add perspective that Jurkovec is a potential future star but labeling him a savior is still a bit much. Before we organize a mob with torches to force a quarterback competition this spring let’s realize with Wimbush taking a grad transfer there’s going to be a ton of reps for Jurkovec with only 2 quarterbacks on campus.
Whether it’s actually stated by Kelly (and it likely will not be) that there’s an open competition that label won’t really matter in the application of practice reps. If Jurkovec is performing well he will have plenty of opportunity during the spring to close any gap with Book.
Watching him unseat Book during the off-season is super unlikely so any hope for that shouldn’t turn into frustration for anyone. I remain quite high on Jurkovec eventually becoming a very good starter for the Irish but I don’t envy the coaching staff–who are coming off a bold-ass move in benching Wimbush last year–trying to get a quality look at their young hope with the higher ceiling while knowing Book provides a ton of stability and comfort.