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Notre Dame Fighting Irish Football: Let’s Talk Age, Not Experience

NCAA Football: Notre Dame at North Carolina Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Editor’s note: Due to incorrect information given to One Foot Down, a previous story misstated the age of freshman wide receiver Braden Lenzy. He is 18.

When we talk about football players, the discussion is about their on-field accomplishments. But there’s another element to their makeup — their age.

Even then, we tend to hear only of the extremes. For example, do you remember hearing that Romeo Okwara was just 16 when he started playing for the Irish?

Okwara, now 23, is entering his third season as a NFL player with the New York Giants. His brother, Julian, a rising junior on the Irish team, is 20 years old and has two seasons of eligibility left. He’ll be 22 during any bowl game that occurs after the 2019 regular season.

Julian Okwara is one of the ten oldest juniors-to-be and just 10 days younger than rising senior Brandon Wimbush, the presumptive starter at quarterback. Both of those men are younger than rising sophomores Jordan Genmark Heath (a BUCK linebacker) and Aaron Banks, an offensive tackle.

Banks is also a month older than Jerry Tillery, a 20-year-old defensive lineman who may be the Irish’s best hope at a first round NFL Draft pick next spring.

It’s likely no surprise that the Irish’s oldest player is an upcoming graduate student. That would be Tyler Newsome, who recently turned 23. By season’s end, fellow graduate students Drue Tranquill, Alex Bars, Nic Weishar and rising senior Justin Yoon will join Club 23 too.

Academic grade levels are a poor indicator of a person’s age. Here are the differences between the youngest and oldest in each:

  • Graduate students-to-be: Tyler Newsome is 396 days older than offensive lineman Sam Mustipher.
  • Rising seniors: Yoon is 802 days older than Wimbush.
  • Juniors-to-be: Walk-on safety Christopher Schilling is 448 days older than Jonathan Jones.
  • Upcoming sophomores: Banks is 979 days older than defensive end Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa*.
  • Incoming freshman: Twins Justin and Jayson Ademilola are 552 days older than running back C’Borious Flemister.

* Two caveats: Blue & Gold Illustrated prints birthdates of scholarship players in their annual magazine, but frustratingly omit a few. If Tagovailoa-Amosa was born in 1999 instead of 2000, then the age difference between sophomores is 792 days (Banks to ROVER Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah.)

There are, by my count, 116 players on the roster including walk-ons. Of those 108 whose birthdays are known:

  • Of all the days of the week, the fewest Notre Dame players were born on Sunday — 5 (running back Dexter Williams, linebacker Devyn Spruell, cornerback Donte Vaughn, junior defensive end Jamir Jones and offensive lineman Luke Jones). The Sunday crowd recently lost two members: Deon McIntosh, who was dismissed, and David Adams, who left football because of multiple injuries.
  • The most represented day of the week is Thursday (25 players).
  • The least popular birth month is May, with just seven players being represented by emerald (wide receiver Chris Finke, offensive linemen Logan Plantz and Trevor Ruhland, defensive end Daelin Hayes, cornerback/wide receiver Bradon Garcia, Tagovailoa-Amosa and safety Derrik Allen.) Twelve Irish celebrate their birthdays in December, the most of any month.

A few final tidbits: