Keith Arnold over at Inside the Irish asked us to participate in his annual ranking of the Top 25 players on the Notre Dame roster. Generally, we let one of the staff take care of this, but instead this year applied a little group-think to our rankings. There were seven staff members to submit votes (Jamie Uyeyama, Larz, 4pointshooter, ndmspaint, Paul Rigney, Punter Bro, myself) in order to create the OFD rankings.
Voters used whatever criteria they deemed appropriate to rank the players-talent, impact, potential-you get the idea.
We will unveil our ballot throughout the week after Keith makes the overall rankings public. This edition covers players ranked #25-21.
Here is the link to the Honorable Mentions.
For reference, the players ranked from #25-21 overall can be found HERE.
25. Malik Zaire
Top Ranking: 15 (Jamie Uyeyama)
Bottom Ranking: Not Rated (4pointshooter, ndmspaint, Paul Rigney, Punter Bro)
I believe there is an adage about the back-up QB being the most popular guy on campus. That certainly applies to Zaire, even though he has yet to see a live snap. Hopefully, the offense can put up some big numbers against the early opponents so that Zaire can get some experience in a no-pressure situation.
24. Nyles Morgan
Top Ranking: 20 (Paul Rigney)
Bottom Ranking: Not Rated (Larz, Punter Bro)
Morgan is the only true freshman to make the Top 25 list this year. The linebacker rotation will be fluid for some time (outside of that Smith guy). Can he make a run at the starting MLB? Does he see the field in certain packages?
I like Nyles Morgan and I think he has a lot of talent. I'm not willing to put him in the top 25 just yet, I need to see him play first.
23. Joe Schmidt
Top Ranking: 19 (Jamie Uyeyama)
Bottom Ranking: Not Rated (Jim Miesle, ndmspaint, Punter Bro)
Hey, remember how we said that the linebacker situation was fluid? Schmidt appears to be the early favorite to win the starting job at Mike linebacker, but could be displaced by Morgan, Deeb or a healthy Jarrett Grace.
22. Chris Brown
Top Ranking: 15 (Jim Miesle)
Bottom Ranking: Not Rated (Jamie Uyeyama, Larz, 4pointshooter)
I am really looking forward to seeing what Brown does this fall. He hasn't racked up huge numbers through his first two seasons in South Bend, but now has the opportunity to earn a starting job across from DaVaris Daniels and be a threat to score from anywhere on the field.
Flat out, I think I'm going to proven wrong on this one. I like Chris Brown and I think he could end up having an outstanding 2014 season. He almost made my list and I suspect by the end of the year it's going to be obvious that he should have been on there.
21. Romeo Okwara
Top Ranking: 16 (Jamie Uyeyama)
Bottom Ranking: Not Rated (Paul Rigney, Punter Bro)
Okwara gets a chance to play a more natural even front DE this fall with the arrival of new DC Brian VanGorder. He is the odds-on favorite to win the starting job up front opposite Ishaq Williams and wreak havoc on opposing offensive lines.