Blue and Gold Illustrated

December 2019

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

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Page 14 of 47 DECEMBER 2019 15 Our guess is Book will return in 2020. 2020 CORNERSTONES Four figures we project to be cor- nerstones in 2020 are on the offensive and defensive lines: left tackle Liam Eichenberg, right guard Tommy Kraemer, and defensive ends Daelin Hayes and Ade Ogundeji. Eichenberg has publicly declared he plans to return with the rest of the offensive line that began the 2019 season, even though he prob- ably could be a mid-round pick this spring. However, all his predeces- sors at left tackle under Kelly — Zack Martin, Ronnie Stanley and Mike McGlinchey — developed into first- round selections, with Martin and McGlinchey both staying for their fifth seasons. Kraemer should be a lock, too, after suffering a season-ending sprained knee at Michigan Oct. 26. He had made huge improvement from 2018 and was even named a second-team Mid-Season All-American by the As- sociated Press prior to his injury. On defense, despite stalwarts Kha- lid Kareem, Julian Okwara and Jamir Jones having exhausted their eligibil- ity, the bookend tandem of Hayes (13 career starts) and Ogundeji (second- leading tackler along the line after 11 games this season) should provide excellent veteran experience, while promising youngsters such as Ovie Oghoufo, Justin Ademilola and Isa- iah Foskey groom behind them. Hayes, who suffered a season- ending shoulder injury against Vir- ginia Sept. 28, has already declared on social media his intent to return. Ogundeji has kept the door open, but it would be a major surprise if he does not come back in 2020. "He just has a great motor," Kelly said of Ogundeji. "He's long and re- lentless. He just has all those intan- gibles that you want, plus physical- ity, athleticism, length. He's fun to watch, and he's fun to have on the sidelines — he's always animated. "Anytime he makes a play, he gets excited and gets the guys around him excited. He's just a joy to have on your team and watch him compete and play." ON THE BUBBLE Based on our projections, the two least likely to return for a fifth season at Notre Dame would be linebacker Jonathan Jones and long snapper John Shannon. Jones is a starter on special teams, but is not on the two- deep on defense, which generally does not lend itself to a return. Shannon has started three years, but has not been able to practice much this season. His experience would be welcomed, but it might come down to health. Notre Dame signed preferred walk-on Michael Vinson last season and has a verbal from 2020 recruit Alex Peitsch at the position. • Two-year starting safety and 2019 captain Alohi Gilman (5-10½, 202) is projected as a mid-round draft pick, and his "measureables" are not going to change appreciably with an extra year. He also would be in a sixth sea- son, technically, because he attended the Naval Academy Prep School in 2015-16 before transferring to Notre Dame in 2017. The NFL has been his dream, which is part of why he transferred from Navy. He will have his degree in December. • Crawford, who has had two ACL tears, a torn Achilles, plus elbow liga- ments torn this season, also would be in his sixth collegiate season in 2020, and this September he indicated he was not planning to apply for it. Cor- ner is a huge need for the Irish in 2020, though. • Running back Tony Jones Jr. has enjoyed a quality senior year, but has had a long injury history, and next season there could be six other schol- arship running backs — seniors Jafar Armstrong and Avery Davis, juniors C'Bo Flemister and Jahmir Smith, sophomore Kyren Williams, and in- coming freshman Chris Tyree, the na- tion's No. 2-ranked all-purpose back. Would Jones see less action in 2020? • Wide receiver Javon McKinley would have an opportunity to be a starter in 2020, but he didn't make his first reception at Notre Dame un- til his senior season, and a sprained foot left him mostly out of commis- sion this November. ✦ Scholarship Numbers Crunching While not all 11 seniors eligible for a fifth season in 2020 will return, here is the current breakdown of the roster by class year for next year: • Eleven fifth-year seniors. • Seventeen seniors. Tight end Cole Kmet indicated in November that his plan at the present was to return for his senior year instead of turning pro, while also playing baseball in the spring. Included in this class is Ohio State graduate transfer and safety Isaiah Pryor, who will enroll in January and be immediately eligible in 2020, with another season of eligibility in 2021. • Twenty-four juniors. During the 2019 calendar year, there were three transfers from this class —cornerback Noah Boykin (to Massachusetts), center Luke Jones (Arkansas) and safety Derrik Allen (Georgia Tech). • Twenty-two sophomores. Safety Kyle Hamilton, defensive tackle Jacob Lacey and punter Jay Bram- blett were the standouts as freshmen. • Seventeen freshmen (current verbal commits). One or two more could be added prior to the early signing period from Dec. 18-20. That adds up to 91 so far, which is six over the NCAA scholarship limit of 85. That has been the case the past several years with the number being whittled down to 85 through various forms of attrition — transfer, health, turning pro early, etc. — by the start of the following August. — Lou Somogyi Defensive end Daelin Hayes, who suffered a season-ending shoulder injury against Virginia Sept. 28, has already declared on social media his intentions to return for a fifth season. PHOTO BY ANDRIS VISOCKIS

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