Spring football is over and now we've got over 3 months of the darkest period of the year until fall camp begins and the season is upon us.
I turned 33 back in January and this is the healthiest and most full Notre Dame roster of my adult life. Today I wanted to look a little bit into the future and predict the depth chart for 2015 so I quickly put this together:
Count the names on that chart (don't count the special teams guys more than once) and you'll get 88 players.
There are 19 days until the end of the spring semester exams and the Irish are currently 3 over on the NCAA scholarship limit. Here's the situation by classes:
- FRESHMEN: 24
- SOPHOMORES: 22
- JUNIORS: 22
- SENIORS: 12
That's 80 players right there and we're not including walk-on quarterback Montgomery VanGorder who was awarded a scholarship as a freshman but is not expected to receive one for 2015-16 as a sophomore.
A total of seven players currently on the roster have submitted their applications for graduate studies in order to use their fifth year of eligibility:
- QB Everett Golson
- WR Amir Carlisle
- TE Chase Hounshell
- OL Nick Martin
- LB Joe Schmidt
- LB Jarrett Grace
- DB Matthias Farley
Add in graduate transfer Avery Sebastian from Cal-Berkeley and that's how you get to 88 players.
Absent injury I think Golson will be the starting quarterback for 2015. I don't believe he'll transfer and I don't believe Zaire is going to pass him in the 2 weeks of training camp before the staff decides on the starter and they begin prepping for the Texas Longhorns.
We'll have a better idea of the depth situation this time next year and whether Kizer will hold off Wimbush after the latter's likely redshirt year. More on that later this week as we finish up Reviewing the Redshirts.
It appears the spring experiment of Prosise at running back is going to result in the Virginian getting some reps in the backfield. I still have him listed in the slot where I think he'll get the majority of his work.
Adding Prosise to the mix could conceivably allow Dexter Williams to redshirt but I think the freshman is good enough to play in 2015, and I'd bet on him doing so.
Lots of bodies with all that's missing is a little more physicality and someone emerging as a go-to second option behind Will Fuller.
I think the coaching staff wants Carlisle back and is planning on having room for him to play in 2015. As I see it he's the 6th option out of the 7 graduate players and is the one guy who could conceivably be a victim of the numbers crunch. With Prosise emerging as a bigger playmaker, Hunter getting reps in the slot, and the highly touted C.J. Sanders coming in this fall it feels like Carlisle (who touched the ball 3 times for -5 yards in the spring game) would be a luxury in 2015.
Chase Hounshell is likely to transfer for his graduate season. Unless there are a handful of additional transfers shortly after the semester ends you have to think Hounshell knew this would be the most likely scenario for him to play football in 2015.
I'd be surprised if Heuerman stayed at Notre Dame following this semester but I've heard nothing either way. However, the way he's plummeted from the the tight end depth chart and isn't even being a factor as a receiver signals to me that there could be a medical issue, or more likely, an understanding with the coaches that he's moving on to another school this summer.
It is widely accepted that incoming freshman Aliz'e Jones will make an impact in 2015 as the second option as a pass catching tight end.
With preferred walk-on and rising sophomore Sam Bush practicing at left tackle there are enough bodies to fill out 3 full lines. But who will practice at right tackle? I would imagine the most likely candidate would be Colin McGovern who has worked at tackle in the past.
Obviously, the depth here is great. The lack of another tackle is really the only negative but who really cares when you've got Tommy Kraemer and Liam Eichenberg already on board for 2016.
We've got bodies. There's no doubt that there's a giant pile of clay to mold in 2015 and beyond. But pure numbers doesn't necessarily mean quality depth and the Irish are still working on building that experience.
If Tillery is truly an impact freshman All-American type of player then I really like the two-deep at tackle. Having 6 other bodies is great for practice but right now I don't think there are any difference makers among the rest of that group.
The duo of Okwara and Trumbetti should provide quality weak-side production. Beyond that, there's work to do. Ditto on the other side where Rochell feels like a really, really important player likely to eat as many minutes as anyone on the entire line. Hopefully, the good feeling surrounding Bonner equals a strong comeback from his turf toe because it doesn't seem like Blankenship is developing quickly and there really aren't going to be any other candidates to offer reps on the strong-side.
Is this not the best positional group on the defense?
The only thing I'm not crazy about was moving Martini to the strong-side where Onwualu gets a lot of snaps, Jaylon takes reps in certain packages, and that position comes off the field often in favor of a nickel corner. That sounds like Martini is going to be buried after playing really well as a freshman but it seems like the staff is pretty serious about Coney stepping up in 2016 in the event that Jaylon leaves early for the NFL.
The situation at corner leaves me wishing there was a third corner who was both experienced and able to fight for starting minutes. Devin Butler has some experience but may have been passed by Nick Watkins who himself is talented but unproven. It wouldn't shock me if Shaun Crawford came in and immediately pushed Butler for playing time among the backups.
Even if Matthias Farley plays most, if not all, of his snaps as the nickel corner I tend to think the depth at safety is shaping up a lot better than we hoped--special thanks to Avery Sebastian. If both Tranquill and Baratti can maintain their health we might be in for a surprise with the depth at this position. However, Baratti's shoulder will remain a concern until he can take contact again without injury. That's still a spot where another scholarship could open up down the road.
I wish C.J. Prosise could be the returner for both units but I'm not sure he has the hands to win the punt return job--although he took the reps behind Bryant during the spring game.
Prosise is the ideal candidate for kick returns but Carlisle is the incumbent assuming he remains with the Irish in 2015.