Blue and Gold Illustrated

June-July 2019

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

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28 JUNE/JULY 2019 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED and it averaged 5.7 yards per rush and 6.3 yards per touch (rushes and receptions). With Williams out for the first four games, then-junior Tony Jones Jr. and then-sophomore Jafar Armstrong combined for a virtually identical clips of 170.7 yards of total offense per game, 5.5 yards per rush and 6.6 yards per touch. Armstrong is now a more experi- enced back after moving over from receiver, and both he and Jones had outstanding springs. Sophomore Jahmir Smith missed several prac- tices, but when he was on the field he shined. Along with classmate C'Bo Flemister and freshman Kyren Wil- liams, Smith provides quality depth. 7. Tight End Arguably no unit has a chance to make a higher jump up this list by the end of the 2019 season than the tight ends. The group isn't ranked this low because of talent. If the raw ability here can overcome the overall lack of experience, it could become a strength of the 2019 squad. Junior Cole Kmet is poised to be- come Notre Dame's next standout tight end. He has all the attributes coveted at the position. He possesses elite size (6-5½, 255), excellent ball skills and is noted as a quality athlete. He led the 2018 regulars in comple- tion percentage when targeted, but he must improve his blocking and stay healthy. Classmate Brock Wright had a steady spring and should become a regular. Sophomore George Takacs finished the spring on a high note, but the X-factor in this unit becom- ing a truly impactful group is Kmet fulfilling his potential and the highly athletic sophomore Tommy Tremble forcing himself onto the field. 8. Cornerback If not for the presence of senior Troy Pride Jr., who is one of the best football players on the team, this unit would be ranked lower. Notre Dame needs Pride to become a more consis- tent force on the boundary, and if he can he could be the team's next great cornerback. This position is an area of major concern for the Irish heading into the fall. Converted safety Houston Griffith enters the fall as a projected starter on the open field side opposite Pride. Veterans Donte Vaughn and Shaun Crawford both missed the spring with injuries and will be battling to earn playing time come fall camp. Griffith had positive moments in the spring, but his technique still needs work. Sophomore TaRiq Bracy is an out- standing athlete and could push for major snaps this season, assuming he can handle the rigors of the position. Instrumental to Notre Dame getting strong corner play is either Vaughn or Crawford securing a spot in the rotation and at least one of the sopho- mores — Bracy or Griffith — becom- ing a playmaker. 9. Linebacker There is talent at linebacker, but the overall lack of experience at the posi- tion is a major concern. The only re- turning starter is fifth-year senior Mike linebacker Asmar Bilal, whose starts came outside at rover. Bilal is a veteran, but the lack of instincts that plagued him throughout his career were still evident during the spring. Junior Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah is one of the best athletes on the team, and during the spring he started to turn his skills into production. He and sophomore Paul Moala provided steady and sometimes spectacular play at rover. When the rising sophomores signed with Notre Dame as part of the 2018 class it was considered one of the na- tion's best linebacker hauls. Notre Dame needs that group to grow up in a hurry. Sophomore Jack Lamb had some brilliant moments during the spring, showing top-notch athleticism and playmaking ability, but he must stay healthy and limit mistakes. The same is true with sophomore Shayne Simon. 10. Special Teams Notre Dame is replacing its all- Jay Bramblett is expected to step right in and handle the punting duties as a true freshman this fall. PHOTO BY BILL PANZICA

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