Blue and Gold Illustrated

Preseason 2021

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

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6 PRESEASON 2021 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY PATRICK ENGEL N one of Notre Dame's six 2020 team captains re- turned for 2021. The Irish feel they still have plenty of strong leadership, though. Head coach Brian Kelly named seven captains for the 2021 season, tying the program's all-time high for a single year previously set in 2017 and matched in 2019. They are junior running back Kyren Williams, graduate student wide receiver Avery Davis, senior center Jarrett Patterson, graduate student defensive end Myron Tago- vailoa-Amosa, graduate stu- dent defensive tackle Kurt Hinish, graduate student linebacker Drew White and junior safety Kyle Hamilton. Each is a first-time captain and was a Spring/ S u m m e r Wo r k - out Accountabil- ity Team (SWAT) leader during off- season workouts. Notre Dame had 14 SWAT leaders this year, a higher number than normal. "I think I can confidently say it's the deepest group of leaders that I've had here," Kelly said after Notre Dame's first fall camp practice. All told, the captains are four grad- uate students, one senior and two ju- niors. Each is a returning starter from 2020. Patterson (center), White (mid- dle linebacker), Hinish (nose tackle) and Tagovailoa-Amosa (strong-side end) are entering their third sea- sons as starters, though Tagovailoa- Amosa spent 2019-20 as the No. 1 three-technique defensive tackle. Williams emerged as an offensive centerpiece last season, rushing 211 times for 1,125 yards (5.3 yards per carry) and 13 touchdowns. His 35 catches ranked third on the team. All of this came after a freshman season where he played in the opener, but was barely heard from again the rest of the year. Without a returning starter at quarterback and with the turnover at wide receiver, he's one of the more important voices on the offense. So is Davis, who caught 24 passes for 322 yards and two touchdowns last year as the primary slot receiver. After arriving as a quarterback and moving to cornerback and running back, he found a home at receiver in 2020. "His value to this program cannot be put down," offensive coordinator Tommy Rees told Blue & Gold Illus- trated in June. "He's been through more than anyone who we have, and he has kept a great attitude through- out it all. He has worked his way to find a place on this team and find a role in an impactful way. "He had the two biggest plays of our season. He's just a presence. He's always out there, someone you can count on day in and day out." Patterson is Notre Dame's lone re- turning full-time starter on the offensive line. He has started 21 games at center since 2019, and after initially planning to move him to another spot on the line, Kelly chose to keep him at his best position — where he has developed into a potential NFL Draft pick. "You can't downplay the impact Jarrett is going to have on the group as he comes back," Rees said. "Just the leadership and the presence he's going to have will settle everybody in and make sure everybody is on the same page. Naturally, he keeps guys to a certain standard." Tagovailoa-Amosa, a na- tive of Hawaii, picked Notre Dame on National Signing Day in 2017 and became a rotation player that fall. He broke into the starting lineup as a junior and posted 6.0 tackles for loss in 2020. He moved to the edge — where he initially thought he would play — when defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman arrived in January. Hinish returned for a fifth season using the COVID-19 waiver that granted all 2020 football players an extra year of eligibility. He's likely to leave as the program's all-time leader in games played. The former three-star recruit carved out a role as a freshman, kept it as a sophomore, moved into the starting lineup in 2019 and put forth his best season as a senior (7.5 tackles for loss). White was a similarly less-heralded recruit in 2017 and entered 2019 fall camp far down the depth chart at mid- dle linebacker. He exited it as the starter, and has not missed a game since. He has totaled 137 tackles, 17.0 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks and three passes broken up over the last two seasons. "The biggest thing with Drew is continue to be a leader," Freeman said. "Not just a leader by actions, UNDER THE DOME Graduate student Kurt Hinish is one of seven Notre Dame captains for the 2021 campaign. PHOTO COURTESY NOTRE DAME ATHLETICS HEAVY ON LEADERSHIP Notre Dame names seven team captains for the 2021 season

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