The Notre Dame Fighting Irish have a roster full of players, and we want to talk about them all. One Foot Down’s player profile series will take a look at every single one of them, and hopefully we all learn a little bit more about these guys, and Notre Dame’s chances for the upcoming 2020 season.
#21 Trevor Speights, Running Back
Coming out of high school in 2016, Trevor Speights was a 3-star running back prospect, ranked 399th in the country in the 247sports composite rankings (#19 RB, #65 player in Texas).
Despite the mediocre rating, the 5’10”, 200-lb back had an unbelievably productive high school career at Memorial High School in McAllen, Texas, finishing as Texas’s 4th-all-time leading rusher with 9,868 career rushing yards and 120 touchdowns, including 3,195 rushing yards and 50 touchdowns as a senior.
With numbers like that against Texas competition and some professional athlete DNA in the family (his cousin is former NBA player Marreese Speights), Speights still picked up some solid offers, including the likes of Stanford, Oklahoma, Missouri, Arizona, Tennessee, Texas A&M, and Vanderbilt.
Way back in the spring of 2014, Speights committed early to play for the Arizona Wildcats, but by April of 2015, he’d decommitted and was exploring other and better offers. By the end of that year, he committed to the Stanford Cardinal, signing with them a couple months later and then enrolling in June of 2016.
For the first three years of his collegiate career, Speights had to deal with a Stanford running back depth chart headed up by Christian McCaffrey and Bryce Love, and so he didn’t see a ton of action from 2016 to 2018 because of that.
He didn’t play as a true freshman in 2016, as a sophomore he played sparingly in 11 games, and as a junior he played in just 9, although he did start 1 game that year. After the 2018 season, Speights had carried the ball 93 times in his Cardinal career for 348 yards (3.7 ypc) and 1 TD while also catching 7 passes for 54 yards.
In 2019, with McCaffrey and Love both finally out of the way and Speights looking to have a nice final year for the Cardinal, he instead did not play due to injury during a rough 4-8 season for Stanford, preserving a year of eligibility that would ultimately allow him to commit to the Fighting Irish in late May of 2020 as a graduate transfer.
Smash Williams from Friday Night Lights
Speights’s college career might not have given us anything to write home about to-date, but we can’t look at his wild high school production in the Lone Star State and not compare him to one of the greatest Texas high school running backs of all-time, Smash Williams.
Hopefully Speights has a final appearance in football similar to Smash, who in a later episode can be seen on TV tearing it up for Texas A&M after a long journey overcoming injuries and self-doubt to get to that point.
Maybe, just maybe, Speights will finish his football career off with a bang in South Bend after his recent struggles at Stanford — we can only hope, folks.
It’s really difficult to put together a good 2020 outlook for Speights, considering he’s an unproven running back joining a CROWDED depth chart of unproven running backs.
Guys like Jafar Armstrong and C’Bo Flemister and maybe Jahmir Smith are probably considered most likely to get a bunch of carries this year, plus with 5-star frosh Chris Tyree joining the group, it’s likely he will get worked into the equation due to his speed and home run ability. Kyren Williams will be a sophomore in 2020, so he could even factor in, as he was considered a pretty promising prospect when he signed in the 2019 class.
So, it’s really difficult to see where Speights fits into the rotation and receives any sizable amount of carries. Perhaps his experience overall and familiarity with running back coach Lance Taylor could end up earning him some time, but I honestly don’t see a lot that would necessarily justify Speights earning time over some of these other guys.
We will see — maybe 2020 will truly be a running-back-by-committee season and we will see all these guys chip in at different moments, but as of now it’s a very cloudy forecast for Speights in his final collegiate season(s).