Blue and Gold Illustrated

June-July 2016

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

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Page 39 of 127

BY BRYAN DRISKELL F or the second straight season, Notre Dame's freshman class littered the depth chart and provided plenty of production with 11 of the 23 recruits seeing play- ing time. Unlike the previous season, though, the 2015 class vaulted up the depth chart based just as much on talent as injuries to veteran players. A pair of newcomers rewrote the record books. Placekicker Justin Yoon set a school freshman record with 95 points while making 15 of 17 field goals, and running back Josh Adams set an Irish rookie mark with 835 rushing yards. He also set the single- game freshman rushing record by ripping Stanford for 168 yards. Heading into the 2016 season, much more will be expected of the class, especially at the skill positions. We list the position groups and play- ers that will be counted upon the most for Notre Dame in 2016: 1. Wide Receiver/Tight End — Notre Dame's sophomore pass catch- ers have put themselves in position to become vital figures in the 2016 offense. Tight end Alizé Jones led his po- sition group with 13 receptions for 190 yards as a true freshman, but his inexperience in the system limited his effectiveness, particularly as a blocker. With a year under his belt, Jones is poised for a breakout season. He possesses the size, speed and ball skills to become a legitimate weapon. The coaching staff moved him around all spring, so expect to see Jones line up at a number of dif- ferent spots — similar to Tyler Eifert in 2012 — in an attempt to get him the ball with greater frequency. Without Will Fuller on the roster, Notre Dame needs to find downfield weapons. A potential impact player in that aspect could be wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown, who made a strong impression with the staff despite making just one catch as a freshman. St. Brown has exceptional length (6-4) and above average speed. That combination makes him a difficult down-field matchup. He has shown flashes of big-play ability in prac- tice, but must now carry that over to games and become a more consistent weapon. Slot receiver CJ Sanders was an im- pact returner last fall, taking a punt GIFTED GROUP Notre Dame's sophomore class has an abundance of playmakers at numerous positions

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