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Notre Dame Top 25 Players: Midseason

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As voted on by the community! Plus a new #1 (sort of).

Joe Robbins/Getty Images

You probably remember our preseason ranking of the Top 25 players on the Notre Dame roster. At midseason, how much has that list changed? Who are the big risers and sliders? Here's our pre-season list for reference.

This time we're doing it differently - a little democracy for election season! With an open Google Form we had lots of responses through Twitter and the Fanpost - it's not as easy as it sounds ranking the roster 1-25.

Off the List: Ouch Edition

Nine players fell out of the top 25 ranking from the preseason - of that group, five of those players suffered season ending injuries - Tarean Folston (6), Malik Zaire (7), Jarron Jones (10), Alex Bars (23), and Durham Smythe (25). This doesn't include Shaun Crawford and Drue Tranquill, who could have easily played their way into these rankings, and it points to the remarkable job the coaching staff has done filling the gaps created by the losses of multiple impact players.

Off the List: Stock Down

Preseason rankings in parentheses.

Andrew Trumbetti (17): After leading the "Don't sleep on Trumbetti" bandwagon, it looks like we may have been a little early. Through seven games Trumbetti has just 5 tackles (2 solo) and 0.5 TFL - the freshman to sophomore jump just hasn't been there, as Romeo Okwara and Isaac Rochell have dominated the snaps for defensive ends.

Corey Robinson (19): It was great to see Catch Radius get back on track with the critical touchdown last week at USC, but it's been a rough start to 2015. Robinson has just 8 catches and less than 100 yards after putting up 40 receptions and over 500 yards in his sophomore campaign. The targets haven't been there - he's tied for 6th with Alize Jones with just 13 targets. Is he having trouble getting separation? Have other receivers just improved more? It's hard to tell, but the production hasn't been there.

Matthias Farley (20): The senior captain barely missed out on the list, finishing 26th. Farley has been a super sub this year, filling in occasionally in the nickel (which Notre Dame hasn't played much of) and for Max Redfield at free safety. Consistent playing time hasn't been there, although Farley does have a forced fumble. If we're evaluating who is most valuable to the team (there's no specific criteria for these rankings) I'd put Farley higher - I think his leadership and veteran presence are big for this team.

Nyles Morgan (24): This one is playing time - Morgan hasn't had the opportunities at linebacker to make a significant impact, although he had a huge play on special teams with a forced fumble on kickoff coverage duty against Navy. Joe Schmidt has rarely seen the sidelines, so Morgan has been holding down the 2nd team.

On the Rise: Newcomers

Each of the following players was unrated in our preseason rankings. College football: hard to predict.

DeShone Kizer (6): I think everyone knew it was a possibility Kizer would be on this list, but everyone hoped Malik Zaire would stay healthy. But I don't know that anyone would have predicted Kizer's success as a redshirt sophomore - the offense hasn't suffered a drop-off with the backup quarterback, and Kizer ranks 16th nationally in passing efficiency. That's ahead of Everett Golson, Deshaun Watson, Connor Cook, and any Ohio State quarterback. He's been a poised and confident leader, and it's exciting to see what he'll be able to do with three more years of eligibility.

Chris Brown (13): Going into this season, a big question was if any player would step up as the second receiving threat behind Will Fuller. In his final season, C-Breezy has definitely secured that position. Brown's target rate of 21.5% doesn't trail Fuller (26.7%) by much, and he's quickly developed a rapport with Kizer. He hasn't had deep bombs Fuller has, but he's been a top target to move the chains on 3rd down and has over double the yardage of the next highest Notre Dame receiver (Amir Carlisle).

Jerry Tillery (15): This ranking may be a little high, but there's not a rule that say you can't take the fact that he's been the MVP of "A Season With ND Football". It's a testament to Tillery and the defensive line that even with the loss of Jarron Jones, against the run the Irish are a top-40 team (after finishing in the 70s last season).

Justin Yoon (16): Special teams! After a somewhat shaky start to the season, Yoon hasn't missed a kick since UMass. On its own that isn't that impressive, but that run has featured made field goals in a monsoon at Death Valley (that the Irish desperately needed) and a 52-yarded before the half against Navy.

Romeo Okwara (20): The senior defensive end leads the Irish in sacks with three, and is fourth in tackles for a loss. He's made vast improvements from his junior year, and it's a shame that at just 20 years old he'll be out of eligibility after this year.

CJ Sanders (21): Sanders has been a huge lift to Notre Dame's special teams (minus the costly fumble at Clemson). In FEI ratings, which evaluate the value special teams generate per possession, the Irish rank 9th nationally. This isn't all Sanders - but between CJ, Yoon, and Newsome, the freshmen have raised the special teams unit to one of the nation's best.

James Onwualu (22): Onwualu has done a little bit of everything - he's sixth on the team in tackles, has a sack, two pass breakups, and a forced fumble. He breaks into the Top 25 after barely being excluded in the preseason rankings.

Daniel Cage (23): Cage and Tillery have formed an effective tandem at defensive tackle, occupying double teams and allowing Sheldon Day space to operate.

Josh Adams (25): Adams hasn't seen a ton of carries with CJ Prosise being just too dang good to take out, but he's been extremely productive when he has opportunities. The true freshman is actually averaging a higher YPC than Prosise (7.8 vs. 7.2), although it was in fewer carries (the majority of which were against weaker defenses).

On the Rise: Stock Up

CJ Prosise (2, +12): I'm not here to tell you anything new - Prosise is on pace for the best season ever by a Notre Dame running back. The offensive line has been great, but few experienced backs have the patience and vision to maximize the yardage the line gives them like Prosise - much less a converted safety in his first year.

Elijah Shumate (10, +8): Shumate has made a mini-leap over the last few games for the Irish, making tackles in opposing backfields and coming up with a big pick against Navy. He's still not consistent in coverage (and had had a not-so-small role in Notre Dame's tendency to give up big plays), but in run support he's been a force.

Isaac Rochell (7, +5): Rochell has been a beast on the edge for Notre Dame, fifth on the team in tackles and third with 5.5 TFL. He might still be a little underrated, if only because ends get more headlines if they're great pass rushers and average run stoppers, and Rochell at this point has the opposite combination of skills.

Nick Martin (8, +5): What are we going to do next year without a Martin anchoring the offensive line? The younger version has been the leader on Harry Hiestand's unit of maulers, and the Irish rank second in Rushing S&P+ and opportunity rate (the percentage of carries where the offensive line produces at least 5 yards for the runner).

The Final List

Midseason

Rank

Player

Previous

Change

1

Jaylon Smith

2

+1

2

CJ Prosise

14

+12

3

Will Fuller

3

0

4

Sheldon Day

5

+1

5

Ronnie Stanley

1

-4

6

DeShone Kizer

NR

+20

7

Isaac Rochell

12

+5

8

Nick Martin

13

+5

9

KeiVarae Russell

4

-5

10

Elijah Shumate

18

+8

11

Mike McGlinchey

11

0

12

Cole Luke

9

-3

13

Chris Brown

NR

+13

14

Steve Elmer

16

+2

15

Jerry Tillery

NR

+11

16

Justin Yoon

NR

+10

17

Joe Schmidt

8

-9

18

Quenton Nelson

21

+3

19

Max Redfield

15

-4

20

Romeo Okwara

NR

+6

21

CJ Sanders

NR

+5

22

James Onwualu

NR

+4

23

Daniel Cage

NR

+3

24

Amir Carlisle

22

-2

25

Josh Adams

NR

+1

Matthias Farley

Torii Hunter Jr

Tyler Newsome

Alize Jones

  • Jaylon Smith tied for first in our staff rankings for the preseason, and we gave the tiebreaker to Ronnie Stanley. He's now alone in first.
  • A lot of consistency in ballots for the top five - that's a group that will be playing on Sundays very soon.
  • Breaking down the top 25 by class (for simplicity's sake, counting "redshirts"): 7 freshmen, 1 sophomore, 9 juniors, 8 seniors.