Blue and Gold Illustrated

February 2022

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

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BLUEGOLDONLINE.COM FEBRUARY 2022 7 BY PATRICK ENGEL T he defections started before Notre Dame even left Arizona. In fact, a couple stated their inten- tions before the Irish even went to the desert to play Oklahoma State in the Fiesta Bowl. That's commonplace in college foot- ball these days and nothing to grumble about, but the transfer portal and the NFL Draft wait for nobody. Neither does announcing a return for a graduate sea- son. As of early January, Notre Dame had several players announce they're either seeking a new home, turning pro or coming back for a fifth or sixth year. They're not expected to be the last. Here's a rundown of who has exited and returned since juniors Kyren Wil- liams and Kyle Hamilton turned pro in mid-December. ENTERED TRANSFER PORTAL Shayne Simon, Sr., LB Simon began the season as a second-team line- backer and special teamer. He suffered a torn la- brum in Notre Dame's season opener at Florida State Sept. 5 and played just eight defensive snaps. He made 27 tackles from 2018-20, with 3.0 tack- les for loss and five passes broken up. He started eight games. Litchfield Ajavon, Jr., S Ajavon played in 10 games from 2019-21, with just eight total snaps on defense. Seven of those came this year versus Navy Nov. 6. Most of his snaps in his Notre Dame career were on punt return teams. Khari Gee, Fr., S Gee did not play this season and took a redshirt. He was a four-star recruit in Notre Dame's 2021 class and an 11th-hour addition during the De- cember 2020 signing period. He flipped his com- mitment from LSU. Caleb Offord, So., CB Offord played 10 defensive snaps across two seasons, with his only action on defense this year coming against Navy. Jay Bramblett, Jr., P The three-year starting punter is departing as a graduate transfer, an expected outcome after he was honored on Senior Day Nov. 20. Bramblett averaged 43.1 yards per punt this year and put 19 of his 58 kicks (33 percent) inside the 20-yard line. He unloaded 12 punts of at least 50 yards, includ- ing a career-high 72-yarder. None of Bramblett's 164 career punts were returned for a touchdown. Paul Moala, Sr., LB Moala played in just four games the last two years and suffered two Achilles tears in that span. He was a special teams staple in 2019 and 2020 before his injury this season and was listed as the No. 2 rover. Quinn Carroll, Jr., OL Carroll played all 13 games in 2021, mostly on the field goal unit. He saw action on offense in six games the last two seasons. DECLARED FOR NFL DRAFT Kevin Austin Jr., Sr., WR Austin is bypassing a graduate season at Notre Dame and declaring for the 2022 draft. With his departure, Notre Dame loses its top wide receiver from 2021. Austin caught 48 passes for a team- best 888 yards and tied tight end Michael Mayer for the team lead with seven touchdown recep- tions. He averaged 18.5 yards per catch. Drew White, Gr., LB Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, Gr., DE This pair of captains and three-year starters had the chance to play six seasons when the NCAA awarded all 2020 college football players an extra year of eligibility. They will not use it. Each played in 12 games this year, starting all of them. Tagovailoa-Amosa made 25 tackles (6.0 for loss) and notched 2.0 sacks. On Senior Day against Georgia Tech, he had a memorable 70-yard fumble return for his first career touchdown and blocked a field goal to help preserve the 55-0 shutout. White finished second on the team with 55 tack- les (4.5 for loss) and had 1.5 sacks. His season highlight was a 48-yard interception return for a touchdown that punctuated Notre Dame's 41-13 victory against Wisconsin at Soldier Field. RETURNING FOR GRADUATE YEARS Braden Lenzy, Sr., WR Lenzy caught 32 passes for 350 yards and three touchdowns in 13 starts this year. It was the first season in which he played the full allotment of games. He has 50 catches for 667 yards and six touchdowns in his career, as well as 277 yards rushing on 21 carries with two scores. Houston Griffith, Sr., S A 12-game starter at safety this year, Griffith is coming back for a fifth season with the Irish as a "super senior." He made 38 tackles and recovered one fumble this year. Though he has played four full seasons and did not redshirt, he had an option for a fifth because the NCAA awarded all players on 2020 college football rosters an extra season of eligibility. Josh Lugg, Gr., OT Lugg is returning for a sixth year using the CO- VID-19 waiver. He started 12 games at right tackle this year and has made 20 starts at three offensive line positions in his career. He missed the Fiesta Bowl with a meniscus tear that required surgery. George Takacs, Sr., TE Takacs caught three passes for 36 yards and a touchdown as the No. 2 tight end behind Mayer. He played 407 snaps across 13 games and was primarily used as a blocker. ✦ UNDER THE DOME ROSTER CHURNING Double-digit Notre Dame players have either entered transfer portal, turned pro or announced their return for graduate years Three-year starting punter Jay Bramblett is among the Notre Dame players who have entered their name in the transfer portal since the end of the regular season. PHOTO COURTESY FIGHTING IRISH MEDIA

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