Blue and Gold Illustrated

December 2023

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

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14 DECEMBER 2023 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY JACK SOBLE T he surest sign that Audric Es- timé was different this year came in against North Carolina State Sept. 9. On the first play after a lengthy rain delay, Estimé carried the ball through an open hole at the 20-yard line and was off to the races. He deleted a lineback- er's tackling angle at the 25 and did the same thing to a safety at the 30. He got a block from junior wide receiver Jayden Thomas and found more green grass at the 50. From that point, the junior run- ning back just outran everyone, reach- ing a maximum speed of nearly 21 miles per hour (according to Reel Analytics) on his way to the end zone. Notre Dame knew Estimé was a pow- erful, bruising back with more athleti- cism than his 5-foot-11, 227-pound frame would suggest. But the elite long speed, that was new. The agility to hurdle two defenders in a three-carry span against Central Michigan, that was new. He nearly doubled his output from 2022 as a pass catcher, from 9 to 17 in two fewer games through Week 12. His Pro Football Focus pass-blocking grade jumped 30 points in 10 more reps. All that was new from the Nyack, N.Y., native. Estimé was good last season, but he wasn't a complete running back. He wo rke d ove r t h e offseason to im- p rove h i s s p e e d , pass catching and pass blocking. Check, check and check. That improvement will, in all like- lihood, reward Estimé in April's NFL Draft. It certainly paid off for Notre Dame. "I feel like when I got the opportunity, all the training and hard work during the offseason showed up big time," Estimé said. "Everyone is training around the world, everyone is training around the country for football. But it's like tak- ing more of your free time and working and focusing on things you need a little extra work on, and that's what I did this offseason." Once the 2022 season ended, Estimé set his goals and put his plan into ac- tion. He spent more time after practice using the Jugs machine to improve his hands. The players always run their own route-running sessions outside of the designated team practice periods, but he stayed longer than he had before. Estimé also worked with a speed trainer, New Jersey-based Joey Tag- gart, when he went home for the off- season. Taggart put him through some re s i s ta n ce t ra i n i n g , wh e re E s t i m é had to sprint with a small parachute attached to his back. He worked on straight-line sprinting and did mini- hurdling drills, too. He also did some good, old-fashioned running up hills. Estimé felt the effects right away. "Every day, every week throughout the whole offseason, I felt myself get- ting faster throughout the week," Es- timé said. "In season, I feel myself get- ting faster throughout the season." That doesn't happen without Esti- mé's work ethic, which he's had since he was a kid. It's the reason he has one of the more intimidating frames in col- lege football, and that sturdiness and strength as a runner is still the base of his game. Estimé credits a lot of that work ethic to Terrence Fedé, his cousin and godfa- ther, as well as a former NFL defensive end. Fedé's mom, Marise, raised Estimé after the death of his mother when he was 10 years old. Around that time, ac- cording to special contributor John Brice, Estimé started training with Fedé. Living in the same household as Fedé, Estimé saw what he had to put in to be a college football and NFL player. "I saw him waking up in the morning and going to lift," Estimé said. "I saw him come back and watch film and ice his knees. I saw him take a little nap and do another workout. "So I saw that at a young age, and I kind of feel like that influenced me and gave me a vision of if I want to be at this level, here's what it takes." Fedé is still active in Estimé's life, helping him navigate name, image and likeness deals, along with everything else that comes with being a star at Notre Dame. His support is unending — if you go to Fedé's account on X, the website formerly known as Twitter, it reads like an Estimé fan page. "It means a lot because he's my cousin but he's like my brother," Estimé said. "I grew up with him. His mother is my legal guardian. So, he's honestly my brother. Anything I need, he's there for me." Estimé was originally committed to Michigan State, but he flipped to Notre Dame during the early signing period in December 2020. Wi t h h i s co l l e ge career possibly — logic would indicate likely — coming to an end, Estimé said that decision was one of the best things that ever hap- pened to him. He felt the wave of emotions that came with Notre Dame's win over Wake Forest, which he and Irish head coach Marcus Freeman admitted could have been his last home game in South Bend. A COMPLETE BACK Through offseason work on his speed, blocking and receiving, Audric Estimé turned himself into an all-round player "Every day, every week throughout the whole offseason, I felt myself getting faster throughout the week. In season, I feel myself getting faster throughout the season." ESTIMÉ

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