Blue and Gold Illustrated


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

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22 PRESEASON 2022 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY TYLER HORKA AND PATRICK ENGEL M arcus Freeman has a talented roster to work with in his first season as Notre Dame's head coach. Blue & Gold Il- lustrated took a crack at identifying and ranking the 25 most important players on that roster. This is not necessarily about who is the best player or the top pro prospect. It's more along the lines of individuals that need to either emerge, remain a centerpiece or significantly elevate their production to help the Irish contend for another spot in the College Football Playoff. Much is based on talent and impact, but a premium is also placed on these questions: 1) If you subtracted this in- dividual from the roster, how much of a setback would it be? 2) If this less proven player emerges and makes an impact, how much does that raise the ceiling (or lower it, if a breakout does not happen as expected)? The players and their rankings were determined by vote from five BGI staff members. Here is the annual top 25 countdown of Notre Dame's most important players for the upcoming season. 1. QB TYLER BUCHNER There's not much more to say at this point. Buchner holds the key to Notre Dame's 2022 outlook more than any other player. Last year, he completed 21 of 35 pass attempts for 298 yards with 3 touch- downs and 3 interceptions plus ran 46 times for 336 yards and 3 scores. But he's not in a change-of-pace role any- more. Notre Dame needs to see growth from him as a passer and a leader. Spring practice was a good start to both. Fall camp must show signs of con- tinuing it. For Notre Dame to reach the playoff, he will have to look like a vet- eran instead of a first-year starter. 2. TE MICHAEL MAYER Arguably the best overall football player on the roster and a possible f i rs t - ro u n d d ra f t pick in 2023, Mayer has the ability to keep Notre EYES ON 25 Notre Dame will rely on these players to stay in the College Football Playoff conversation Tyler Buchner will be Notre Dame's first full-time starter at quarterback as a sophomore since DeShone Kizer in 2015. PHOTO BY CHAD WEAVER

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