Reviewing the Redshirts is an off-season series meant to resurrect discussion around the current Irish freshmen who did not play in 2013.
There were 13 this year who retained a year of eligibility and today we take a look at an electric back primed for a breakout season.
RB, Greg Bryant
Hometown: Delray Beach, Florida
247Sports COMPOSITE RANKING:
4-star, No. 6 RB, No. 11 FL, No. 45 USA, 0.9764 score
Need at Position: High
Expected Spot on 2014 Depth Chart: Co-starter
Here's what I said about Bryant following last year's National Signing Day:
I've got Bryant as the second best prospect in this class and the top running back to come to Notre Dame in a long, long time. It appears that he lacks truly elite breakaway speed but if he had that he might be considered the best running back in the country. As it is, I don't think he's that far off the mark.
I just love the way he's put together (big legs, muscular upper body) and the way he runs (hits holes hard yet shows off an agile side while shedding defenders). He's really adept at cutting back and finding cut-back lanes, but he won't be able to do it as much as he did in high school. Early in his career I'm sure he'll have a ton of plays in which he's tackled from behind for this very reason.
Bryant is a very complete back with good hands and pass-catching ability. His juking ability is top-notch and he runs with really good strength. I don't want to pigeonhole him as a power-runner only because he has the quickness, vision, and agility to be much more than that. He's so talented and ready physically that I don't think it's out of the realm of possibility that Bryant leads the 2013 team in total carries like Georgia's Todd Gurley did last year---that's how special I think Bryant can be immediately.
How's that for high praise?
You know, I'll stick by that though. Physically and athletically Bryant is right up there as one of the top players to come to Notre Dame in recent years on the offensive side of the ball. I'll be shocked if he doesn't show some major flashes in this weekend's spring game or doesn't become a major part of the offense in the fall.
Obviously, he didn't have a major breakout freshman season thanks to a knee injury that required surgery following the season and put him on the shelf after a few games. Instead, it was classmate Tarean Folston who had the strong freshman season (470 yards, 3 touchdowns) and finishes spring as the top dog in a 3-man rotation.
We saw some great things from Folston last year: Nice speed, great lateral ability, good vision, and solid power for his size. Even though Folston is more proven right now I think Bryant has the ability to be better. All of the spring snippets we've seen are positive for GB, as well. He's claiming to be healthy and stronger than ever. He's looked really fast on film and had the coaching staff remarking about his power for the past couple weeks.
There's still a touch of concern that Bryant still hasn't completely learned the playbook, though. As a coach's son he was supposed to be really 'football smart' and it's been a little curious to see that he struggled picking up the offense last fall and that was one of the reasons he didn't see a ton of snaps before being given his redshirt. Hopefully he can continue to learn the system and gain the trust of Golson and the staff. If he does big things should be in store in 2014.