It's August and that means that our friend Douglas Farmer is continuing the good work that his predecessor Keith Arnold was doing at Inside The Irish. That's right, it's time for Counting Down the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
Things got a little busy for me over the weekend (I turned 39 years old for example) and am a little late, but I press on with the good and hard work of ranking the top 25 players.
Here are the final 10:
#10 Drue Tranquill, ROVER
The arrival of Mike Elko and his 4-2-5 defense was a huge blessing for Drue Tranquill. He has always been a natural for this position, and he played his best in this type of role (Georgia Tech 2015 for example). His play at the position can be the most important variable for the defense this season.
#9 Daelin Hayes, Defensive End
It’s no great secret that the Notre Dame defense needs to improve its pass rush after producing only 13 sacks in 2016. Daelin Hayes is probably Notre Dame’s best pass rusher right now, and if the defense improves the way we think/hope it will, he should help bring that sack number up quite a bit.
#8 Shaun Crawford, Cornerback
News out of camp is that Crawford has been explosive and is most likely its best cover corner. Notre Dame likes him at the nickel, and all that he can do there. Like Drue Tranquill, Crawford’s play can really help dictate what this defense does on the back end. He also provides incredible flexibility with the other corners. Please, please, please stay healthy.
#7 Josh Adams, Running Back
Josh Adams is the best running back on the Notre Dame roster, and has a lot to offer with his frame, speed, and vision. He continues to be underrated everywhere, and is most likely underrated on this list. The Irish will use 3 backs this year, but Adams will be THE man for most of every game. He is fully healthy which he never really was last season.
#6 Equanimeous St. Brown, Wide Receiver
It has been said by others that when it comes to Notre Dame’s wide receivers, its Equanimeous and then everyone else. His presence and his production will be vital to this offense and this team.
#5 Mike McGlinchey, Left Tackle
Obviously, this is a low ranking compared to others. McGlinchey is primed for a huge season, and has the desire and skill needed to do so. He has also worked himself into incredible shape. He will anchor the line with his play and the team with his leadership.
#4 Quenton Nelson, Left Guard
Pretty much everything that was just said about McGlinchey can be said for Nelson. There is one thing that separates the two ever so slightly, and that’s Nelson’s attitude. He has a mean streak that Notre Dame absolutely needs on their offense and team. His play can help set the tone in each game.
#3 Jerry Tillery, Defensive Tackle
I know many of you are scratching your heads at this ranking (and probably many more) but defensive tackle was one of the biggest question marks this past spring, and it is vital that Notre Dame sets the line of scrimmage in each game. I think Tillery is on the brink of becoming a great player, and if that really is the case, he will make a tremendous difference in 2017.
#2 Nyles Morgan, Linebacker
I kind of noticed that during the offseason, Nyles Morgan got less attention from the media and bloggers than I ever expected. Most accounts have declared that Morgan looks like an animal right now. The simplified defense is just ready to unleash Morgan and let him finally play up to his full potential. It may not be a 2012 Manti type season, but I’m betting that it’s close.
#1 Brandon Wimbush, Quarterback
I am the only one on the panel to rank Wimbush here. Many would think it’s a bit of a reach (to put it mildly) but I still put a lot of stock in who QB1 is at Notre Dame. Wimbush has been the starter since spring with no real doubts about that. If my goal here was to rank the importance of the player as it pertains to the success of the season, I can’t get past our quarterback. If he reaches his potential this season, the Irish offense will be rolling and could take an expected 8 win season into a 10 or 11 win season.