Blue and Gold Illustrated

June July 2018

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

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20 JUNE/JULY 2018 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED their production will take a signifi- cant leap forward in 2018. With starting nose tackle Jonathan Bonner out all spring with a hand injury and starting defensive tackle Jerry Tillery missing time with a concussion, Hinish and Tagovailoa- Amosa received extra reps, and both took advantage by putting together strong springs. Tagovailoa-Amosa was one of Notre Dame's late additions to the class, not announcing until National Signing Day. Landing him proved crucial because he is a thick yet ath- letic figure that can hold up well at the point of attack and also make plays in the backfield with his quick- ness off the snap. Hinish picked Notre Dame early and never wavered, sticking with the program through its 4-8 season and change at defensive coordinator. He is an undersized but penetrating player. The change to the 4-2-5 de- fense was a positive one for Hinish, who is at his best when allowed to attack. Darnell Ewell was the highest- ranked defensive tackle in the class. A four-star recruit and the No. 139 overall player in the country accord- ing to Rivals, he has struggled to crack the rotation. He showed up a bit out of shape as a freshman and way behind from a fundamental and developmental standpoint. Ewell made positive strides this spring, but he's still behind his class- mates in the rotation. PRODUCTION EXPECTED FROM SKILL PLAYERS Wide receiver Michael Young earned the most snaps among the skill players on offense in 2017, total- ing 89. The class combined for only six catches and 32 yards last sea- son, but Young did haul in a crucial fourth-quarter score in Notre Dame's season-ending victory over LSU. Expect the production from the sophomore class to take a major jump this season. It should begin with Young, who ended the spring as a starter despite missing a week of practice with a concussion. Young is a dynamic athlete and one of the fastest receivers on the roster. He repeatedly stretched the field and beat Notre Dame's top corners on down-field routes all spring, and his after-the-catch skills are something that were largely absent from the of- fense a season ago. If Young can stay healthy and carry over his spring progress into the fall, he should help upgrade an Irish screen game that has struggled for three straight seasons. Jafar Armstrong redshirted last season and spent the spring cross- training between running back and wide receiver due in part to the dis- missal of classmate C.J. Holmes, the lone running back signee in the class. Armstrong struggled with the dual roles for much of the spring while he battled an ankle injury, but in the Blue-Gold Game he showcased the big-play traits the staff has raved about. The Lee's Summit, Mo., native rushed for 50 yards on six carries, no- tably a 25-yard touchdown run, and added one catch for 21 yards. Expect Armstrong to spend more time at running back than receiver when in fall camp. The same is likely true of quarter- back Avery Davis, who took snaps at quarterback, running back and wide receiver during the spring. He was signed as a quarterback and still seems intent on trying to stick at that position, but he's also willing to play whatever position gets him on the field now. After splitting time between all three positions in the spring, Davis should get more time at running back and receiver during the fall. He emerged as a playmaker at both spots late in the spring, and the staff is hoping that he, Armstrong and Young can add production with the ball in their hands. TIGHT END TANDEM The wide receivers won't be the lone sophomores on offense expected The Irish are expecting wideout Michael Young — who hauled in a touchdown reception during Notre Dame's fourth-quarter rally versus LSU — to provide playmaking prowess to the offense this fall. PHOTO BY ANGELA DRISKELL

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