Blue and Gold Illustrated

Preseason 2016

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

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Page 56 of 99 PRESEASON 2016 57 Okwara might still be a year away from being physically ready to hold up, but his athleticism off the edge might force the Irish staff to find a role for him as a pass rusher. In most years, running back Tony Jones Jr. would be one of the most talked about players in camp. He is a natural runner with impressive power and vision. He's made a num- ber of big runs in fall camp, and he showed the ability to quickly pick up the Notre Dame offense. His strength and experience as a blocker combine with his pass catch- ing ability to make him a legitimate candidate to earn a role as a third- down back. If Notre Dame was not so deep at the position, Jones Jr. would be fighting for legitimate carries. POTENTIAL SPECIAL TEAMS IMPACT Most of the skill players already discussed will likely have roles on special teams. Three others could also work their way on there. Strong safety Spencer Perry is rangy, physical and possesses im- pressive size (6-2, 204) for a rookie. He might have a hard time working himself into the safety rotation, but Perry could prove to be an immedi- ate weapon for special teams coordi- nator Scott Booker. The fastest player in the freshman class is cornerback Troy Pride Jr., who won the South Carolina Class AAA state championship in the 100-meter, 200-meter and 400-meter dashes. Pride Jr. lacks the technique needed to play cornerback at this time, but has high-end speed. He is a willing tackler that could quickly find a spot on the coverage teams. Mike linebacker Jonathan Jones is someone Notre Dame might like to redshirt, which would help put a year of eligibility between himself and returners Nyles Morgan and Josh Barajas. Jones, however, is an impressive athlete that plays with a lot of passion. It would not take much for him to be a starter on the coverage and return units. LIKELY TO REDSHIRT The number of players destined for an immediate redshirt is a bit longer than previous seasons, which can be attributed to the team's depth. Notre Dame returns two quarter- backs with starting experience, and sophomore Brandon Wimbush might be the most talented signal-caller on the roster. It was expected that in- coming quarterback Ian Book would redshirt, and that remains the plan. That was also the case for offen- sive linemen Liam Eichenberg and Parker Boudreaux. Eichenberg is con- sidered the future replacement for Mike McGlinchey at left tackle, and Boudreaux was one of the most heav- ily recruited linemen in the 2016 class. The experience and depth at that unit affords line coach Harry Hies- tand the opportunity to preserve a year of eligibility for both players. Recruited as a dual-threat player, Deon McIntosh has already shown off his versatility in camp, spend- ing time at receiver and running back. The former prep rusher will need time to develop the strength to handle the college game, but he impressed during fall camp with a number of tough downfield catches with good coverage. D e f e n s i v e e n d A d e t o k u n b o Ogundeji is actually a bit ahead of schedule. He was a 216-pound end as a senior, but when he showed up at Notre Dame he was already a well-built 240 pounds. Ogundeji flashed some athleticism off the edge in camp, but he's probably still a year away from competing for snaps at the position. Linebacker Jamir Jones and safety D.J. Morgan have earned some reps with the second defense in certain sit- uations, but those plays were limited. Jones has shown the ability to play with good range, but a year of sea- soning in the weight room is needed for him. Morgan also will need a year to develop, although a possible role on special teams could happen this fall if there are injures in the secondary. Long snapper John Shannon was re- cruited to be a four-year starting long and short snapper, but that was not meant to begin this season. Shannon was recruited with the intention of redshirting this year and then taking over for current snapper Scott Daly beginning with the 2017 season. ✦ Julian Love's toughness and instincts helped him quickly earn the backup spot at the nickel posi- tion, and will also make him a contender for a number of special teams roles. PHOTO BY COREY BODDEN Major Contributors S Devin Studstill DE Daelin Hayes Possible Contributors WR Chase Claypool S Jalen Elliott DE Khalid Kareem OL Tommy Kramer DB Julian Love WR Javon McKinley DE Julian Okwara WR Kevin Stepherson CB Donte Vaughn Possible Special Teams Contributors CB Troy Pride Jr. LB Jonathan Jones S Spencer Perry Redshirt Candidates QB Ian Book OL Parker Boudreaux OL Liam Eichenberg LB Jamir Jones RB Tony Jones Jr. RB Deon McIntosh S D.J. Morgan DE Adetokunbo Ogundeji LS John Shannon TRUE FRESHMAN PROJECTIONS

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