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, once again, 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 2021 season.
#21 Caleb Offord, CB
Caleb Offord arrived at ND as the highest-rated of three cornerbacks signed in the 2020 class by the Irish coaching staff, but that isn’t saying much considering Offord, Ramon Henderson, and Clarence Lewis were all 3-star prospects ranked outside the top 500 in the 247sports composite rankings.
Lewis, of course, ended up being the instant-impact guy amongst the three, but Offord was an intriguing “unheralded” recruit from Southaven, Mississippi whose 6’1” height and decent offer list (Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisville, Houston, Memphis, Purdue, Duke, etc.) were nothing to sneeze at.
Ranked the #515 player in the class and the #36 CB, Offord signed with the Irish in December 2019 as the first player from the state of Mississippi in the Brian Kelly era. He then enrolled early and ended up playing in 2 games (South Florida, Florida State) as a true freshman last season, playing mostly in garbage time and registering no stats.
The Restaurant That Fits
Considering Offord is from Mississippi, I did a little research into any beloved local chains in the state, and Ward’s Restaurant — a single location founded in 1978 by Richard and Ed Ward that has now grown to 39 locations — kept popping up in everything I read (except their actual website, which appears to be down considering the blank white page and tiny message of “pageok”).
Ward’s is a small chain of burger joints known for their homemade chili (which they put on their burgers, and also obviously on their chili dogs), as well as for their homemade root beer. Their signature burgers are called the “Big One” and the “Little One” and feature both their chili and their signature sauce.
I like to think this represents Caleb Offord pretty well, considering this early in his career it’s still not clear if he will end up being a “Big One” (i.e. a prospect who really develops from unheralded into a star) or a “Little One” (i.e. a legitimate 3-star who will serve as a role player who provides depth, but not much more).
Count me excited to see, but either way it’s awesome to see the Irish making some inroads into a state where they don’t have a ton of historical recruiting success.
Offord is still probably a year or two away from being a significant contributor at corner. He’s likely behind classmate Clarence Lewis and senior TaRiq Bracy at the Field CB spot while Cam Hart and Ramon Henderson appear to be CB1 and CB2 at the Boundary position.
He WOULD be able to offer more length than Lewis or Bracy considering his 6’1”, 184-lb frame, but he will likely only see the field in in 2021 in the 2nd half of blowouts or on special teams. Hopefully he can use whatever time he gets to continue developing into a solid and regular member of the cornerback rotation in 2022 — otherwise, he could be at risk of being leap-frogged by some of the young and hungry DBs signed in the 2021 class (Ryan “Bo” Barnes, Philip Riley, Chance Tucker, JoJo Johnson).