Blue and Gold Illustrated

Nov. 4, 2023

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

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BLUEGOLDONLINE.COM NOV. 4, 2023 25 CHRIS TYREE GETS THE PARTY STARTED VERSUS PITT As soon as Sam Hartman was picked off in the red zone on Notre Dame's first drive, it felt like something special needed to happen for the Fighting Irish to get on the board and get things go- ing in the right direction against the Pitt Panthers. Something special, or someone special to simply get the ball in his hands. Enter Chris "The Jet" Tyree. After Pitt went three and out, Tyree backpedaled and caught a punt on his own 18. He spun off the first-would be tackler at the 17 and plowed through the second almost simultaneously. An- other Panther failed miserably at an arm tackle near the 20. Two or three more arm tackle attempts later and Tyree was off and running with nobody in front of him by the time he reached his own 35. How did he get there? "Don't think," he said. "Just run." It felt like high school all over again for the 5-9½ speedster from Virginia. He didn't lose foot races back at Chester (Va.) Thomas Dale, and he didn't lose this one either. The end zone was his destination. He arrived easily once the hard part was through. He's not dubbed "The Jet" for noth- ing, after all. "Growing up playing football, that's what I did anyway; they would just give me the ball and tell me to go run," Tyree said. "It's as simple as that." The irony in that is Tyree switched from running back to wide receiver this past offseason. As the name indicates, running backs are literally handed the ball and tasked with … running. It's tough for wide receivers to get their hands on it, meanwhile, especially in an Irish offense struggling to find consistency via the air since the schedule switched from vastly inferior foes to Power Five opponents. Against Pitt, though, Tyree reminded everyone why he was the No. 8 running back recruit in the country in the class of 2020. He ran for 496 yards on just 73 carries for the Fighting Irish that fall, too. He seemed destined to be one of Notre Dame's next great all-time running backs. Injuries and a crowded room paved a different path for him. But here he is, still making game-changing plays in a blue- and-gold uniform. It wasn't just the punt return, either. In his first year playing full- time wide receiver in his entire football career — dating back even further past his time at Thomas Dale — Tyree ranks second among Notre Dame pass catchers in both receptions (19) and receiving yards (417). Junior tight end Mitchell Evans is No. 1 in both categories with 29 and 422. Head coach Marcus Freeman said the proof is in the work. Tyree has toiled hard for what he's getting. "That's what I love about that kid; he's unselfish and he works tirelessly at his craft," Freeman said. "The rewards are seen on Saturdays." Everything is earned for the player who joined Julius Jones, Rocket Ismail and Tim Brown as Irish players who scored on a punt return, kick return, rush and reception in their Notre Dame careers. That's prestigious company. Quite a club. "I want to be able to add value to the team as much as I can," Tyree said. "Whether that's catching the ball, run- ning it, returning, things like that, I'm going to do it to the best of my ability." YOUNG CORNERS STEP UP FOR THE IRISH Shortly before the game against Pitts- PITTSBURGH GAME NOTES BY TYLER HORKA AND JACK SOBLE Senior wide receiver Chris Tyree caught 3 passes for 62 yards — including this outstanding 47-yard grab — and returned a punt 82 yards for a touchdown to kick off the scoring for the Irish. PHOTO BY CHAD WEAVER

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