HomeNBAThoughts on all 41 scholarship players on Notre Dame's offense

Thoughts on all 41 scholarship players on Notre Dame’s offense

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SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Marcus Freeman’s third spring practice starts Thursday. But it will be the first time he blows the whistle on a spring in which Notre Dame is expected to have a true College Football Playoff roster. The expansion of the CFP has something to do with that. So does the hiring of offensive coordinator Mike Denbrock and the incoming transfer of quarterback Riley Leonard.

There’s a lot to like about the next Irish offense.

There’s also a lot of work to get done to bring the group together.

Here are thoughts on all 41 scholarship players on the Irish offense, with their academic years listed first and their eligibility listed second (if there’s a difference).

Quarterback (4)

Riley Leonard (Gr./Sr.): The Irish are banking on Leonard charging the offense in a way Sam Hartman could not, with his legs and his physicality. As for Leonard the passer, he’s about to enter the Notre Dame fishbowl, where even throw is deconstructed. Gino Guidugli has plenty of material to mold in Leonard.

Steve Angeli (Jr./Soph.): Notre Dame would love to keep Angeli as its QB2 this season, backing up Leonard. That could open the door for Angeli to start as a senior. After his Sun Bowl performance, it seems clear Angeli hasn’t started his last game. The question is where the next one will happen.

Kenny Minchey (Soph./Fr.): Assuming all four quarterbacks remain on the roster come fall, Minchey may be in a difficult spot with the numbers. Does he get closer to Angeli by the Blue-Gold Game or does CJ Carr get closer to him?

CJ Carr (Fr.): Internally, Notre Dame believes Carr could grow into the kind of quarterback Notre Dame has been lacking for more than a decade. That will take development, starting with spring ball.

Running Back (6)

Jadarian Price (Jr./Soph.): Price took best advantage of Audric Estime’s opt-out in the Sun Bowl, taking 13 carries for 106 yards and a touchdown against Oregon State. Of all the backs on the roster, none looks more like a RB1 than the 5 -foot-10, 198-pound Price. He’s got a name, image and likeness deal with a local Lexus dealership, too.

Jeremiyah Love (Soph.): Getting more from Love should be a spring priority for Denbrock. There’s too much speed and too much versatility for Love not to be a focus of the playbook. His most impactful play shouldn’t be a fake punt for much longer.

Gi’Bran Payne (Jr./Soph.): Notre Dame’s best short-yardage back, even if he might not look it physically compared with other options. Payne may have a hard time taking carries away from Price and Love, but he should continue to have some role.

Devyn Ford (Gr./Sr.): The Irish are fortunate to keep Ford, who can help a little bit everywhere. He was a special teams regular and featured in two-back sets. There’s always room for a mature veteran.

Kedren Young (Fr.): Notre Dame has been wowed by an early enrollee back from Texas before. And Young feels like he’s got some Jadarian Price to his game. Could he press Payne and Ford for reps?

Aneyas Williams (Fr.): Position coach Deland McCullough’s preference to play multiple backs should help Williams make a freshman impact, even if there aren’t carries to go around for the versatile prospect.

Wide Receiver (10)

Jayden Thomas (Sr./Jr.): A sneaky “what if?” to how Hartman may have been remembered at Notre Dame. What if Thomas didn’t suffer a hamstring aggravation against Ohio State? It essentially ended the top receiver’s season. He made just eight more receptions. A healthy spring is critical.

Kris Mitchell (Gr./Sr.): Of Notre Dame’s three incoming transfer receivers, Mitchell was the most productive at his former stop. FIU may be a level down from Notre Dame, but it’s hard to overlook 64 catches for 1,118 and seven touchdowns. He’ll be a mature option for Leonard. And a lightning quick one, too.

Jaden Greathouse (Soph.): Remember how Greathouse played against Navy with two touchdowns? It was slow going from there as a hamstring injury limited the freshman to 15 catches for 197 yards and three touchdowns the rest of the season. When healthy, the potential for Greathouse is clear.

Jordan Faison (Soph.): Notre Dame’s best receiver by the end of last season, which gives the Irish lacrosse team two bowl game MVPs from football. Faison was expected to be present for all of football this spring … but now he’s fourth on the lacrosse team in goals. Will that rebalance Faison’s schedule?

Jayden Harrison (Gr./Sr.): Added primarily for his return skills, Harrison will give the receivers group a shot of speed. His 28 catches for 410 yards and one touchdown at Marshall last year may not turn heads. His two kickoff return touchdowns should.

Beaux Collins (Gr./Sr.): Collins technically isn’t part of the program just yet as he finishes up his degree at Clemson, which is why he’s not listed on Notre Dame’s roster.

Deion Colzie (Sr.): Until Collins joins in full, Colzie is Notre Dame’s only true big-bodied wideout at 6-4, 209 pounds. An early season injury dogged Colzie last fall as he finished with three catches for 45 yards, all against Navy. Can he be a senior surprise?

KK Smith (Soph./Fr.): For how much was written about Smith being cleared to play in the Sun Bowl after missing the regular season while recovering from shoulder surgery, he played just two snaps against Oregon State. And the depth chart just got crowded.

Cam Williams (Fr.): One of the marquee commitments in the freshman class, Williams is a speed receiver with length. He also scored 54 total touchdowns at Glenbard South, a nod to how he matched talent with production.

Micah Gilbert (Fr.): Gilbert has a physicality to his game that’s rare in freshman receivers. The Irish may not need it to flash this season, but it’s a good bet that Gilbert will click eventually … maybe first among the freshman receivers.

Tight End (6)

Mitchell Evans (Sr.): If Evans didn’t tear his ACL against Pittsburgh, there’s a real chance he could have been at the NFL combine last weekend. Instead, he’s rehabbing and could still give Leonard a No. 1 target over the middle. How quickly Evans is back at 100 percent is unclear.

Eli Raridon (Jr./Soph.): Next season Raridon will be two years removed from his last ACL tear. Considering how he came on at the end of last season — half of his season snaps came against Stanford and Oregon State — spring could let him push onward. Raridon has all the tools to be a future NFL prospect.

Cooper Flanagan (Soph.): Flanagan impressed the coaching staff early with a willingness to bloody his nose in the run game. That’s a good place to start. If he can be TE3 behind Evans and Raridon, it would give the Irish a dynamic trio at the top. Already 6-6, 240, Flanagan could grow into a future starter.

Davis Sherwood (Sr.): If Notre Dame goes with more 11 personnel sets (using one tight end) it could reduce Sherwood’s opportunities in the run game. He’ll be a valuable cog, regardless, considering he logged 182 special teams snaps last season.

Kevin Bauman (Gr./Sr.): Injuries have derailed Bauman’s career, limiting him to 12 games during the past four years, including last season’s complete loss after a preseason ACL tear. If the Irish can get production — whether that’s on special teams or in a reserve role — it would be a welcome bonus.

Jack Larsen (Fr.): Notre Dame is old and deep at tight end, which doesn’t offer much immediate opportunity for Larsen to contribute. But with Evans sidelined for spring, the freshman from North Carolina could get thrown into the spring mix, even at 6-3, 233 pounds.

Tackle (5)

Tosh Baker (Gr./Sr.): Most Irish lines have a veteran presence like this, an older player who simply wants to be part of the program. Josh Lugg comes to mind. Can Baker go out like Lugg did? That would mean helping the Irish wherever called upon. Baker is more of a pure tackle.

Charles Jagusah (Soph./Fr.): His start in the Sun Bowl felt like the first in a string 40-plus starts as the former high school wrestler began to come into his own against Oregon State. There is a world of potential in Jagusah, who was the highest-rated prospect in last year’s freshman class.

Aamil Wagner (Jr./Soph.): Wagner was mentioned as a potential starter in the run-up to the Sun Bowl, but he couldn’t beat out Baker in the end. At 284 pounds, Wagner doesn’t have prototype mass, but he’s still a top athlete with basketball skills. Can he can get (and stay) strong enough?

Sullivan Absher (Soph./Fr.): At 6-7, 318 pounds, Absher has the build any offensive line coach would want. Could he make noise in a very unsettled tackles group? The opportunity is there after a redshirt freshman season.

Styles Prescod (Fr.): The other tackle in Notre Dame’s freshman class is a power forward growing into an offensive tackle at 6-6, 273 pounds. In an ideal world. Prescod’s work will be limited to practice and the weight room this year.

Guard (8)

Pat Coogan (Sr./Jr.): Coogan’s first year in the starting lineup was solid if unspectacular. Such is life for guards. PFF ranked him as the fourth of Notre Dame’s five starting offensive linemen who began the year in the starting lineup. Now a returning starter with two seasons of eligibility remaining, Coogan has a chance to lead on the interior.

Billy Schrauth (Jr./Soph.): Notre Dame’s best hope for another mauler, Schrauth lit a fuse within the offensive line after taking over for Rocco Spindler in November. Among offensive linemen with at least 200 snaps last season, only Joe Alt had a better offensive grade on PFF. Could Schrauth be the best lineman at a talented but inexperienced position? That feels like a good bet.

Rocco Spindler (Sr./Jr.): Spindler’s breakthrough year ended in a disappointment when a knee injury suffered at Clemson required surgery. The former national prospect showed flashes of potential when he did play, but Spindler wasn’t a finished product at any point. How much (or little) Spindler can do this offseason might predetermine his role come fall.

Ty Chan (Jr./Soph.): It may be moving time for Chan entering spring ball. Without a starting job open and with some younger talent coming off redshirt seasons, Chan may be closer to the talent behind him on the depth chart than the guys he’s chasing down. Chan has logged snaps in only two games the past two seasons, both appearances coming on special teams.

Sam Pendleton (Soph./Fr.): A 6-4, 309-pound square of an offensive lineman, Pendleton feels like a prototype guard. And with Spindler coming off a season-ending knee injury, perhaps there’s an opportunity to push into the two-deep.

Joe Otting (Soph./Fr.): Otting was a later take in his class, with Notre Dame beating out Iowa and Kansas State. On the smaller side when he arrived, he’s now listed at 6-3, 288 pounds. That’s still not massive by Notre Dame offensive line standards. Could Otting develop into an athletic center?

Chris Terek (Soph./Fr.): Even though Terek committed to Wisconsin after current Notre Dame line coach Joe Rudolph departed for Virginia Tech, the Irish line should have been familiar with the Chicagoland prospect before he moved to South Bend. At 6-5, 327, the sophomore brings plenty of mass to the line.

Peter Jones (Fr.): Jones was an early take by former offensive line coach Harry Hiestand and committed to Notre Dame back when Marcus Freeman was 0-1 as a head coach. The Irish line scheme has changed since, but Jones has plenty to time to grow with it.

Center (2)

Ashton Craig (Jr./Soph.): Craig has burned just one year of eligibility and has already logged a couple of years in the weight room, now a lean 302 pounds. Some players can look muscle-bound when they hit that weight. Craig’s rangy frame — Notre Dame lists him at a 6-4 — still looks like it has room for growth.

Anthonie Knapp (Fr.): Listed at 266 pounds, Knapp is an athletic project for new director of sports performance Loren Landow. While On3 listed him as a Top 100 overall prospect, this is a developmental story. That’s fine. Offensive linemen aren’t supposed to come in and play right away. Notre Dame doesn’t need Knapp to be an exception.

 (Photo of Notre Dame running back Jadarian Price: Sam Wasson / Getty Images)

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