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

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BLUEGOLDONLINE.COM PRESEASON 2022 25 Still, he could be a better tackler. His Pro Football Focus tackling grade of 67.2 ranked No. 23 on the team last year. Even after a shaky start in the Fi- esta Bowl loss, Lewis garnered support from Irish coaches — including Marcus Freeman. It seems none of the youthful under- studies at the position are ready to over- take him, so Lewis has to prove he's up to the task in 2022. 15. LB JD BERTRAND Rarely does a leading tackler (101) who made nearly double the stops as his next closest teammate have to compete for a job the next season. But that's Ber- trand's senior-year reality. He's likely moving to Mike linebacker after man- ning the Will linebacker spot in Liufau's absence last year. It'd be a surprise if Bertrand is not the primary Mike over graduate student Bo Bauer. He's a solid run defender who fits better in a two-down role at Mike than the every-down job at Will he had to fill in a bind. 16. LB JACK KISER Foskey was a pretty easy choice for Notre Dame's best defensive player in 2021. There is a reason he landed at No. 3 on this top 25 list. Who was Notre Dame's second-best defensive player last season? Per Pro Football Focus, it was Kiser. Foskey had a season-long defensive grade of 80.7, tops on the team. Kiser checked in at No. 2 with a score of 79.1. Set to start at rover for a second consec- utive season, Kiser could be even better in his senior year. 17. RB LOGAN DIGGS Diggs could find himself active for the opener after a late-April labrum tear, which would be a faster than expected recovery time. The balance, vision and receiving skills he displayed in the second half of last season hinted at three-down back upside, but Estime and junior Chris Tyree's presence will likely force more of a timeshare. Still, it wouldn't be a surprise if Diggs led the Irish in carries. 18. WR DEION COLZIE It might be overbearing to demand so much from a second-year wideout, but Notre Dame does not have a lot of leeway in the wide receiver room. Colzie has a body type that does not grow on trees, even though he rela- tively resembles one in the context of an 11-man football lineup. He's 6-4¾, the tallest wide receiver on the roster. Playing the position takes more than height, but if Colzie is able to utilize his to his advantage the Irish will be much better for it in 2022. 19. S RAMON HENDERSON The junior, who is a converted cor- nerback, displayed impressive range and athleticism as a starter the final four games of 2021. If he speeds up his learning curve at safety and puts everything together this season, the Irish might have another The Poll The top 25 was determined in the same man- ner as the Associated Press poll. Five Blue & Gold Illustrated staff members submitted their ballots, and each position on the ballot was given a point value. The top ranking was worth 25 points, No. 2 was worth 24, No. 3 worth 23 and so on down until No. 25, which was worth 1 point. The players with the 25 highest point totals made the list. In ties, the higher spot was awarded to the player with the highest individual vote. Rk. Name, Position Points 1. Tyler Buchner, QB 122 2. Michael Mayer, TE 115 3. Isaiah Foskey, DE 114 4. Lorenzo Styles, WR 103 5. Brandon Joseph, S 99 6. Jarrett Patterson, OG 95 7. Joe Alt, OT 91 8. Cam Hart, CB 90 9. Chris Tyree, RB 88 10. Blake Fisher, OT 82 11. Jayson Ademilola, DE 72 12. Marist Liufau 61 13. Rylie Mills 61 14. Clarence Lewis, CB 49 15. JD Bertrand, LB 47 16. Jack Kiser, LB 40 17. Logan Diggs, RB 39 18. Deion Colzie, WR 39 19. Ramon Henderson, S 31 20. Jacob Lacey, DT 28 21. Audric Estime, RB 27 22. Josh Lugg, OG 21 23. Drew Pyne, QB 12 24. Zeke Correll, C 11 25. Jayden Thomas* 4 Others receiving points: OG Andrew Kristofic (11), CB TaRiq Bracy (10), DT Howard Cross III (8), DE Justin Ademilola (7), LB Jordan Botelho (6), K Blake Grupe (4), LB Bo Bauer (4) and LB Prince Kollie (2). (* WR Avery Davis, with 24 points, originally appeared at No. 22 on our list before suffering a season-ending injury Aug. 12.) Senior linebacker JD Bertrand led Notre Dame in total tackles (101) in 2021 and is competing for a starting job in 2022. PHOTO BY CHAD WEAVER

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