Blue and Gold Illustrated

June July 2018

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

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28 JUNE/JULY 2018 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY LOU SOMOGYI D uring the Brian Kelly era, some unlikely figures became top rushers: • In 2012, after Theo Rid- dick played receiver in 2010 and 2011, he returned to the backfield his senior year (despite the presence of 1,000- yard runner Cierre Wood) and paced the 12-1 Fighting Irish with 917 yards on the ground to go with 36 catches. • In 2013, junior Cam McDaniel, who worked at cornerback during the spring of 2012, emerged as the leading rusher with 705 yards. • In 2015, former safety and then wideout C.J. Prosise shifted to run- ning back as a senior and amassed a team-high 1,039 rushing yards while averaging 6.6 yards per carry. Current sophomores Avery Davis and Jafar Armstrong — both red- shirted last season while working at quarterback and wide receiver, re- spectively — could be next in line as backfield surprises. The duo was used extensively at running back this spring to help com- pensate for junior Josh Adams' early entry into the NFL Draft plus the dismissal of junior Deon McIntosh and sophomore C.J. Holmes from the football team this winter. Neither Davis nor Armstrong is projected to have lead roles in 2018, but they provide a change-up to a corps led by senior Dexter Williams and junior Tony Jones Jr., both of whom were banged up last year. This spring was a form of an incubation period for both Davis and Armstrong to prepare for the fall. "They are definitely pieces to this offensive system that we missed at times last year," Kelly said. "I think it gives us the ability to go with some split backs, which gives us a lot of options." In the Blue-Gold Game, the 5-11, 203-pound Davis' versatility was showcased with 30 rushing yards, two catches for 24 yards, and a late role at quarterback when he com- pleted both of his passes for 26 yards. Meanwhile, the robust 6-0¾, 213-pound Armstrong's six carries netted 50 yards, highlighted by a 25- yard touchdown burst, and he added a 21-yard reception. "Theo, C.J. Prosise, we kind of see him in a similar vein," Kelly said of Armstrong, who in 2016 won the 4A Kansas state championship in the 100 meters (10.83), 200 meters (22.13) and 4x100 relay (42.70) for Bishop Miege High. Running back seemed apropos to him because, per Irish wide receivers coach Del Alexander last year, Arm- strong possesses "a physical presence when you talk about contact courage. He's a great fit for Notre Dame be- cause of his courage and toughness." As for Davis, he was dumbfounded earlier this spring when he was ad- dressed by a different name. "One of our strength coaches called me 'Kordell Stewart' — I didn't know who he was," Davis admitted with a chuckle after the Blue-Gold Game. Stewart was the star quarterback of powerful Colorado University teams from 1992-94 before becoming the AFC Offensive Player of the Year in 2001 with the Pittsburgh Steel- Davis showcased his versatility in the Blue-Gold Game by rushing for 30 yards, hauling in two receptions for 24 yards and completing 2 of 2 passes for 26 yards. PHOTO BY BILL PANZICA OPTION GAME Sophomores Avery Davis and Jafar Armstrong try to aid the running back corps

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