2020 Notre Dame Football Preview

Digital Edition

Blue & Gold Illustrated: 2020 Notre Dame Football Preview

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Page 56 of 163

BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED 2020 FOOTBALL PREVIEW ✦ 55 RUNNING BACKS POSITION COACH Lance Taylor is entering his sec- ond season as Notre Dame's run- ning backs coach and his first as the run game coordinator. He earned the promotion to run game coordinator after a de- but season in which the Fighting Irish averaged their fourth-highest yards per carry average (4.9) in the last 25 years. During the 11-2 season, Notre Dame averaged 179.2 rushing yards per game despite dealing with a pair of season-ending injuries along the offensive line. Under Taylor's tutelage, senior running back Tony Jones Jr. had a breakout season, rushing for more yards (a team-high 857) as a senior then he had his first three years on campus combined (624) while equaling his career rushing touchdown total, a team-best six. Among the scores was an 84-yarder versus Iowa State in the Camping World Bowl that set a school record for longest rush by an Irish player in a postseason contest. Taylor came to South Bend after spending the two previous seasons as the wide receivers coach with the Carolina Panthers, where he helped a young corps of wideouts that included D.J. Moore, Devin Funchess and Curtis Samuel. Moore, the Panthers' first-round pick in 2018, amassed 788 receiving yards and 55 catches, which ranked second and fourth among rookie wideouts, respectively. Prior to his time with the Panthers, Taylor served as the running backs coach at Stanford from 2014-16. He coached, among others, Christian McCaffrey, who finished the 2015 season with 2,019 rushing yards, 645 receiving yards and scored 13 total touchdowns en route to becoming the Heisman Trophy runner-up. Taylor also mentored Bryce Love, the 2017 Heisman Trophy runner-up who was selected by the Washington Redskins in the fourth round of the 2019 NFL Draft. The year before joining the Stanford coaching staff, Taylor worked with the Panthers as an as- sistant coach. Prior to that year in Carolina, he was with the New York Jets for three seasons in myriad roles, including coaching the tight ends and handling quality control. Taylor also served as the wide receivers coach at Appalachian State in 2009. In his lone season with the Mountaineers, the wideouts had a phenomenal year while setting school records in receptions (284) and receiving yards (3,621). Taylor's first job as a coach came as a graduate assistant for Alabama from 2007-08. Alabama is also where he received his degree and played wide receiver from 1999-2003. RETURNING PLAYERS JAFAR ARMSTRONG • RB Sr. • Lee's Summit, Mo. Ht.: 6-1 • Wt.: 220 • Saw action in nine games and made two starts in 2019. • Rushed for 122 yards and one touchdown, while also catching 13 passes for 97 yards. • Appeared in 10 contests with two starts in 2018, and rushed for 383 yards and seven touchdowns. • Had a standout performance against Wake For- est, carrying the ball eight times for 98 yards and two scores. • Did not see game action in 2017. • Set the Kansas state record for career touchdown receptions with 45, and the Bishop Miege High School record with 3,744 career receiving yards. • Ranked by Rivals as a three-star recruit, the No. 3 player in the Kansas and the No. 77 wide receiver in the land coming out of high school. Year G-GS Att. Yards Avg. TD 2018 10-2 72 383 5.3 7 2019 9-2 46 122 2.7 1 Totals 19-4 118 505 4.3 8 C'BO FLEMISTER • RB Jr. • Williamson, Ga. Ht.: 5-11 • Wt.: 195 • Played in nine games in 2019, and rushed 48 times for 162 yards and five touchdowns. Also caught one pass for 13 yards. • Tallied 2,348 yards and 35 touchdowns during his senior season at Pike County High School. • Named the Class AAA Offensive Player of the Year and landed on the Georgia Sports Writers Association's All-State first team. • Tabbed as a three-star prospect by Rivals. Year G-GS Att. Yards Avg. TD 2018 2-0 1 0 0.0 0 2019 8-0 48 162 3.4 5 Totals 10-0 49 162 3.3 5 JAHMIR SMITH • RB Jr. • Sanford, N.C. Ht.: 5-11 • Wt.: 207 • Saw the field in 10 games in 2019, and carried the ball 42 times for 180 yards and two touchdowns. • Excelled at Lee County High School, rushing for 3,858 yards and 67 touch- downs in his last two seasons. • Tabbed as a first-team All-Metro running back by The Raleigh News & Observer in 2016 and 2017. • Ranked by Rivals as a three-star recruit, the No. 16 prospect in North Carolina and the No. 20 running back in the land. Year G-GS Att. Yards Avg. TD 2018 2-0 6 28 4.7 0 2019 10-0 42 180 4.3 2 Totals 12-0 48 208 4.3 2 TREVOR SPEIGHTS • RB Sr. • McAllen, Texas Ht.: 5-11 • Wt.: 203 • The graduate transfer from Stanford joined the Notre Dame program May 28. • Did not see game action for the Cardinal in 2019. • Played in nine games and started one in 2018, and finished with 59 carries for 221 yards and one touchdown. Also had six receptions for 52 yards. • Saw action in 11 contests in 2017, and compiled 36 rushes for 142 yards and one catch for two yards. • Did not see action as a true freshman in 2016. • Racked up 9,868 career rushing yards and 120 touchdowns at McAllen Memorial High School. He currently ranks fourth among the Lone Star State's all-time leading rushers. • Ranked by Rivals as a three-star recruit, the No. 86 prospect in Texas and the No. 22 running back in the land. Year G-GS Att. Yards Avg. TD 2017 11-0 36 142 3.9 0 2018 9-1 59 221 3.8 1 2019 Did Not Play Totals 20-1 95 363 3.8 1 KYREN WILLIAMS • RB So. • St. Louis Ht.: 5-9 • Wt.: 204 • Played in each of the first four games of the 2019 season be- fore redshirting. • Rushed four times for 26 yards, caught one pass for three yards and returned a pair of kickoffs for 35 yards. • Named the 2018 Class 5A Offensive Player of the Year in Missouri and awarded The St. Louis Post Dispatch 2018 Offensive Player of the Year title. • Landed on the 2018 USA Today All-State first team. • Tallied 2,035 yards on the ground, 725 yards through the air and 40 touchdowns in his senior season at St. John Vianney High School. • Caught 48 passes or more in each of his four years of high school. • Ranked by Rivals as a three-star recruit, the No. 6 player in Missouri and the No. 34 running back in the nation. NEWCOMER CHRIS TYREE • RB Fr. • Chester, Va. Ht.: 5-9½ • Wt.: 179 • During his high school career, he totaled 458 carries for 3,930 yards and 18 touchdowns, 49 receptions for 695 yards and three scores, 150 tackles, six interceptions and 68 passes defended. • Despite missing four games as a senior in 2019, posted 71 carries for 655 yards and nine touch- downs, plus 13 receptions for 184 yards and two scores. • Ran a 4.37 40-yard dash at The Opening and won the Fastest Man Challenge two years in a row. • Received Richmond Times-Dispatch first-team All- Metro honors in 2017 and 2018. • Ran a 6.30 55-meter dash last February to win the Virginia state meet, the fastest time posted by a high school athlete in 2019. • Rushed four times for five yards and a touchdown as a captain in the Under Armour All-America Game Jan. 2 in Orlando, Fla. • Selected for the 2020 Polynesian Bowl in Ho- nolulu. • Ranked as a Rivals four-star prospect, the No. 1 player in Virginia, and the No. 4 all-purpose back and No. 78 overall player nationally. BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED 2020 FOOTBALL PREVIEW ✦ 55

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