Blue and Gold Illustrated

BGI April 2019

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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38 APRIL 2019 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED FOOTBALL RECRUITING BY BRYAN DRISKELL AND DAVID MCKINNEY W hen Notre Dame kicks off the 2019 season it won't have a single Ri- vals four-star running back recruit on its roster, and the expected starter at the position — Jafar Armstrong — was initially recruited to play wide receiver for the Fighting Irish. Every other position on the roster has at least one Rivals100 player on the depth chart, and in the 2010-15 classes the Irish landed six backs that ranked in the Rivals250. While recruiting rankings aren't the end all be all, the data shows running back recruiting has not been good enough in recent seasons. Offensive coordinator Chip Long landed two highly ranked tight ends last summer, allowing him to focus his attention on running backs. That work has helped create a deep and talented group of rushers on the 2020 board. Newly hired running backs coach Lance Taylor is now tasked with im- proving the talent at the position. Here is a breakdown of the run- ning backs on the board based on their ranking on the Blue & Gold Illustrated big board. 1. CHRIS TYREE Chester (Va.) Thomas Dale BGI Grade: 4.5 stars (top-50 recruit) Upside Grade: 5.0 stars (top-25 re- cruit) R i v a l s R a n k i n g s : Four-star talent, the No. 2 prospect in Virginia, and the No. 1 all-purpose back and No. 60 overall player nationally Overview: Tyree is a dynamic athlete that would add home run hitting potential to the backfield. ESPN's No. 17 overall player in the nation and the top player on Notre Dame's board, he has every trait needed to flourish in the Irish of- fense. Getting a player with his burst and acceleration behind the offensive linemen that Notre Dame has recruited in recent seasons would be dangerous. The Thomas Dale star has outstand- ing balance, foot quickness and vision that allow him to attack downhill and explode through the line of scrimmage. Those abilities also make him hard to handle in space. Also, even though he is sudden, fast and on the smaller side, Tyree is a north-south runner that isn't afraid to mix it up and lower his pads despite being just 5-10 and 185 pounds. Should Notre Dame land Tyree it could be argued he is the best running back to pick Notre Dame since Julius Jones signed back in 1999. The Skinny: Tyree traveled to South Bend for the first time Dec. 15, and will return for a second unofficial trip March 23 and an official visit June 21. 2. BIJAN ROBINSON Tucson (Ariz.) Salpointe BGI Grade: 4.5 stars (top-50 recruit) Upside Grade: 5.0 stars (top-25 re- cruit) R i v a l s R a n k i n g s : Four-star recruit, the No. 3 player in Arizona, and the No. 7 running back and No. 55 overall pros- pect in the country Overview: Robinson doesn't have the accel- eration that Tyree possesses, but his other skills make him a dangerous runner. The well-built Salpointe star is listed at 6-1 and 205 pounds. He can run through tackles, but prefers to use his exceptional quickness and change of direction to make defenders miss. Robinson combines patience with explosiveness, anticipates the defense well and does a tremendous job set- ting up blocks. He is hard to get a clean shot on, and is able to put his foot in the ground and hammer the line in order to move the chains. The Skinny: Notre Dame offered Robinson in January, and while he has expressed interest a visit is yet to be set up. 3. TIREK MURPHY Middle Village (N.Y.) Christ The King BGI Grade: 4.0 stars (top-150 recruit) Upside Grade: 5.0 stars (top-25 re- cruit) Rivals Rankings: Four-star pros- pect, the No. 4 recruit in New York and the No. 20 running back in the nation Overview: Murphy lacks the national pres- tige of other backs on this list, but his game is truly outstanding. He has excellent size (6-0, 220), is a powerful runner, is highly athletic, and can line up out- side and run routes as crisp as a wide receiver. Notre Dame loves his all-around game, which perfectly suits Long's of- fense. Murphy — who is 247Sports' No. 264 overall player nationally — doesn't have the speed that Tyree brings to the game. He's a between- the-tackles thumper with the vision, foot quickness and balance to maxi- mize available yards. He catches the ball extremely well out of the backfield and he is high-quality defensive player as well. The "ideal" scenario for Notre Dame is that it can add Tyree and Murphy in the same class. The Skinny: The Irish staff has been working hard to get Murphy on cam- pus for the first time, which will take place March 23. 4. KALEL MULLINGS Milton (Mass.) Academy BGI Grade: 4.0 stars (top-250 recruit) Upside Grade: 4.5 stars (top-50 re- cruit) Rivals Rankings: Four-star talent, the No. 2 prospect in Massachusetts, and the No. 6 outside linebacker and No. 87 overall player in the country Overview: Mullings is listed as an outside linebacker, but more and more teams are starting to recruit him as a running back. The two-way stand- out for Milton Academy looks more comfortable on offense, and his athleti- cism truly shines when he has the ball in his hands. Despite being 6-2 and 220 pounds, Mullings is a nimble runner that can make quick moves and get back to full Landing A Top 2020 Running Back Is A Must For Notre Dame

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