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joedchi

[2023] Notre Dame Fighting Irish Spring Position Battles

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Position Battles to Watch as Notre Dame Spring Football Heats Up

 

 

Key Offensive Position Battles:

Quarterbacks

Brendan Lange had a terrific season and returns atop the quarterback depth chart.  Redshirt junior Rodrigo Casas hopes to put in a good spring and challenge for the starting spot while redshirt freshman Chris Conn made some nice strides but still needs some development.  Lange led the Irish to an 8-5 record and an Independence Bowl win over Wisconsin while throwing for over 3,300 yards with 26 TDs and 11 Ints.  He's been working to cut down on the interceptions but will also have his best receiving core yet.  He does hold the Notre Dame career passing records for completions, attempts, yards, and Touchdowns and looks to build upon those marks this year.

 

Running Backs

Quarterback Brendan Lange is the only returning player currently on the roster with any carries.  Redshirt Freshman Khalil Raji is the most talented back on the roster and will be given every opportunity to win the starting job.  The Irish have struggled to replace Kalei Keil ever since he left early but Raji has great awareness and explosion.  He's still learning and will have his struggles but there's not really another back on the roster currently that can handle the every down duties.  He's been running with the first team this spring and the coaching staff is hoping for a good showing in the spring game.  Juniors Guyapi French and Kofi Ransom have been battling with sophomore Samuel Dawson for backup reps and the spring game will go a long way to determine how they shake out on the depth chart.

 

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends 

The Irish return their top 4 receivers (top 5 including TE Jonas Grover) and add redshirt freshman Michael Holman to the mix.  Sophomore Ahmed Slade had 62 catches for 934 yards and 7 TDs, Sophomore Adam Kenyon had 58 catches for 722 yards and 8 TDS, and Senior Shawn Clay had 51 catches for 651 yards and 7 TDs. Jonas Grover had a down year with 27 catches for 308 yards after having 65 catches for 950 yards and 8 TDs the year before.  Slade and Clay return as the front runners for the starting spots with Holman and Kenyon battling for the 3 and 4 spots.  Jonas Grover returns for his senior season hoping for a rebound and with better weapons around him, he should see less attention.  The only other pro caliber player at tight end, Khiry Bland is expected to redshirt leaving no competition for Grover.

 

Offensive Line

Tackles - Returning starters Liam Hildebrand and Gerard Levitre were solid last year but are looking over their shoulder at freshman Campbell Ragsdale.  Ragsdale is a bruising run blocker and will redshirt if he doesn't win the starting job.  Hildebrand looks like a lock at left tackle and Levitre would start at right tackle if he has a solid showing.  However, it just may be too tough to keep Ragsdale off the field.

Guards - Both starting guards are gone from last year.  Redshirt freshman Raymond Dowell and sophomore Kevin Britton are the listed starters early in camp but both have to worry about incoming freshman A.J. Womack.  Womack has the most upside of the three but he could be redshirted if Dowell and Britton look capable enough to handle the starting duties.

Center - Brandon Clevenger is the default starter as the only center on the roster.  Athlete Leo Corbett has been taking reps with the second team but Clevenger shouldn't have any problem holding on to the starting job.

 

Key Defensive Position Battles:

Defensive Line

Senior Adalius Proctor returns and will look to make more of an impact in his second season after transferring in from the JUCO ranks.  Redshirt freshman Israel Gay will battle true sophomore Gabriel Lockett for the other end spot.  Curtis Sampson and Istaqa Webster will battle for the 4th end spot and the loser of this battle will probably look to transfer for more playing time.  Redshirt sophomore Conor Houck looks to take over at the tackle spot allowing freshman Wayne Huber to redshirt and work on his development.

 

Linebackers

Three of the four linebacker spots appear to be locked up.  Returning starters sophomore Daniel Cahill and junior DaeSean Woodard are the clear starters in the middle and won't face much competition.  Sophomore Jaden Brown returns with his outside spot with the other returning starter Aouli Aveau facing competition from junior Gabe Barton and freshman Andrew Brenner.  Barton looks to have the edge at the second outside linebacker position but a big spring game from Brenner would warrant consideration to keep him from being redshirted.

 

Secondary

 Sophomore Ayden Patton returns as the top corner with junior Noel Guillory the leading candidate to keep his #2 job.  Incoming freshman Tank Boston is the second most talented player at the corner spot but likely needs a redshirt year to be brought up to speed.  Redshirt freshman Dominick Rosenberg looks poised to take over the starting Free Safety spot from returning junior Jim Rowland.  True sophomore Strong Safety Damani Jackson got some valuable experience last year as backup strong safety and bandit linebacker and looks ready to take over at strong safety. 

 

Overall the Irish return 9 of 11 starters on defense but with younger, more talented players slated to start, they look to have 5 new starters with at least 7 being freshman or sophomore.

 

Special Teams:

Senior kicker Beckett Burke returns after making 83% of his kicks from a year ago and senior punter Lenny Casas returns after punting for a 40.48 average.  Neither faces any real competition.  Sophomore receiver Ahmed Slade returns as the primary punt and kick returner although a multitude of guys will get a look in the spring.

 

 

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