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Notre Dame Football Special Team Coverage 2020: Breakout Candidates

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Who Are The ST Heroes of 2020 Going to Be?

NCAA Football: Bowling Green at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Unsung Heroes

Special teams has a TRULY special place in my heart because it is often filled with people who could be the stars of the Island of Misfit Toys. They are often lunch pale/walk on type players who will do anything to get onto the field (I know Chase Claypool/Alohi Gilman are generally the exception). Special teams players generally have some of heart, grit, and ultimately just want to be on the field no matter what. A great example of this on the current roster is Bo Bauer. At OFD, we love him because he is a guy who might not have every physical tool, but somehow runs a 4.3 forty while on kickoff coverage. It is pure heart and adrenaline fueled power. The other aspect is how pumped special teams guys get when they make a play, which is followed by momentum shifts (as seen in the Iowa State/Stanford games this year). Lastly, special teams allow certain players to become legends, and let’s take a minute to remember one of the greats, Mike Anello.

On a personal note, I only started a handful of games in college, so I had to make my living as a special teams player. This makes me love it even more (shoutout the 2011 win vs. Harvard Crimson- I remember having to block current NFL players Kyle Juszczyk and Cameron Brate that game somehow.....)

#24 looks cool and strong!

Special Teams 2020

And so this brings me to the 2020 Special Teams Coverage. I emphasize coverage because this will not include kickers or returners, who generally get significant recognition. I want to focus on Kickoff units, Punt Coverage Units, and even Punt Return (for the blocked possibilities). My rationale for these people will be based off of both facts and completely irrational thoughts. HERE WE GO.

Bo Bauer

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 30 Notre Dame at Stanford Photo by Cody Glenn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Not much to say here. Bo is nightmare fuel for anyone who has to attempt to block him or get in his way on special teams. As I mentioned before, his speed is pretty outrageous on these units and his excitement after making a play cannot be rivaled.

Marist Liufau

Via @marist_09 Twitter

You kidding me with that hair? Liufau has the athleticism and the mentality to be a killer this year. He will play on defense some, but will make his mark on STs, particularly early in the year. He also played in 4 games (all big games) last year, clearly showing the coaches wanted him on the field, without having to sacrifice his eligibility.

Paul Moala

NCAA Football: Navy at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

He has been a special teams staple over the past 2 seasons. He will see increased time at Buck and Rover, but hopefully can fill the void left by Alohi Gilman in the coverage units. He is a playmaker, as seen in his limited roles on defense, so I will not be surprised to see his impact felt all over the field.

Xavier Watts

Big, Fast, and ready for primetime....Watts will be very difficult to keep off the field as a dominant 2 way high school player. He may see some limited action on offense, but the coaches won’t be able to justify keeping him off all coverage units. He is the “hidden gem” of this class and will show that immediately.

Mick Assaf

Bowling Green v Notre Dame Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images

The token walk on player who has played himself into an invaluable role on the team (both emotionally, comedically, and athletically) He is a true “glue” guy. He is also pretty damn good and makes the most of every opportunity, taking over the lead blocking role on kickoffs the back half of last year. As a fifth year senior who is now on scholarship, I expect Mick to make an impact on all special teams units.

Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah

Camping World Bowl - Notre Dame v Iowa State Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

His utilization will be based on how much flexibility the coaches give him with load management. However he was nothing short of dominant on these units last year. Please see below, which is some real special teams porn....

Your Picks?

Did I leave anyone off? Let me know and let’s keep spirits high during this weird weird time in the world. Notre Dame Fighting Irish