Blue and Gold Illustrated

January 2023

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

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20 JANUARY 2023 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY PATRICK ENGEL P ortal season officially started Dec. 5, when the NCAA's trans- fer database opened its formal process to any college football player wishing to put his name in it. Re- ally, though, began even earlier. Gradu- ate transfers can enter at any time, like two Notre Dame players did earlier this fall. Nothing stopped players from de- claring their intentions to transfer ear- lier than Dec. 5, but schools can't make contact until the player's name appears in the portal. Notre Dame's portal shopping will likely be minor compared to many other teams, with about three or four transfers the likely number. That's only partially because of its hurdles to admitting them compared to other places. The Irish's roster-building and talent acquisition efforts will be based primarily in high school recruiting. But they're not blind to the portal as a resource to help fill needs. And those needs exist this offseason. Here's a look at each Notre Dame po- sition group, ranked in order of por- tal assistance need level from lowest to highest on a scale of 1 through 10 as the roster stands at press time. LINEBACKER Nothing is official yet, but JD Ber- trand, Marist Liufau and Jack Kiser's absences from Senior Day ceremonies indicated their returns are more than plausible. Those three rank first, fifth and 14th in snaps played among Notre Dame defensive players. Liufau's 601 snaps are the most of any Irish player. Bertrand is fifth, but his 74 tackles are 22 more than anyone on the team. Kiser's playing time has dipped with Notre Dame going nickel-heavy on defense, but he was an eight-game starter in 2021 and has graded out as one of the Irish's best tacklers over the last three years, per Pro Football Focus. Those three are the backbone of the linebacker unit. Sophomore Prince Kollie broke into the rotation this year. Freshman Junior Tuihalamaka started one game. Freshman Jaylen Sneed played versus Navy. All were top-200 recruits and are the intriguing next wave. The Irish are in good shape here. Need level: 1 RUNNING BACK Notre Dame has a three-back rota- tion it likes with three players who have eligibility through 2024. That rotation does not include freshmen Gi'Bran Payne and Jadarian Price. The latter might have shoehorned his way onto the field if not for a torn Achilles tendon suffered in June. The Irish have two true running backs coming next year in Jer- emiyah Love and Jayden Limar. All told, Notre Dame would have six running backs in 2023 if nobody leaves. It can withstand a departure, whether that's a transfer or late decommitment. Need level: 1 OFFENSIVE LINE The Irish are expected to lose starting guards Jarrett Patterson and Josh Lugg. The most likely in-house replacements are junior-to-be Rocco Spindler and se- nior Andrew Kristofic, who did not take part in Senior Day festivities. That's a former top-100 prospect and an eight- game starter. Below them, freshman Billy Schrauth impressed with his work ethic as an early enrollee. This position has been recruited well and has a culture it takes pride in pass- ing down. Time to let that produce the next wave of starting guards. But if there's an accomplished graduate trans- fer in the portal, he would be worth ex- ploring to ensure the Irish get the most PORTAL MINING Notre Dame is exploring the transfer portal for help at several positions Fighting Irish offensive coordinator Tommy Rees is looking to add a quarterback and a wide receiver in the transfer portal. PHOTO BY CHAD WEAVER

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