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Notre Dame Football Spring Practice Positional Overview: Running Backs

Low on numbers and without Josh Adams, what is to be expected of Autry Denson’s backfield?

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: JAN 01 Citrus Bowl - Notre Dame v LSU Photo by Andrew Bershaw/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish have already finished an early signing day, concluded their season with a bowl win over the LSU Tigers, and wrapped up the final signing day. Now, it’s time to begin the transition to Spring Football. To prepare for that, we’re going to take a look at the overview of each positional group heading into spring. It is worth noting that early enrollees will be included in this, but signees who did not enroll early will not be included. Without further ado, let’s get right into it.

Running Backs:

  • Dexter Williams (SR)
  • Tony Jones Jr. (JR)
  • Jahmir Smith (FR)


As has been said before, “there’s no Josh anymore.”

Notre Dame’s backfield is now without one of its most prolific rushers in the school’s history. Its now time for Tony Jones and Dexter Williams to pick up where Adams left off. The torch has been passed. The question is to whom?

Both Williams and Jones have significant potential for success, although it would be easy to argue that Williams potential beats out any running back to come through Notre Dame in the Brian Kelly era. One of these two will have to assume the mantle.

Or maybe not.

Wake Forest v Notre Dame Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Many feel that unless Dexter Williams makes strides in pass protection this spring, Tony Jones will be named the starter come Notre Dame’s opener against Michigan later this year. However, there should be no doubt in the collective mind of the Irish faithful that Dexter Williams’s talent is undeniable - far too much so to deny him significant playing time. While most of us likely expected to see #2 get that playing time this year, the Irish coaching staff will likely have no choice but to give Williams plenty of carries.

Both of these backs should prove more than serviceable in this upcoming season, although expecting 2017’s production is likely unreasonable. With that said, there are few reasons to be down on the duo of Tony Jones and Dexter Williams. But their could be one major issue: injuries.

And that’s where Jahmir Smith comes in. The early enrollee running back is getting acclimated with Notre Dame now, and will surely get work in spring and fall. When the inevitable bruises mount on the Irish’s top two running backs, Smith should see early opportunities.

Whether or not his play will be sufficient to help support the offense is the question. Will the staff get him adequately prepared in just a few short months? That much is a definite uncertainty. Until those questions can be answered, we will just have to hope that Jahmir Smith makes solid progress this spring.