Zoom calls are finally turning into face-to-face conversations, ugly ACC patches are coming off Notre Dame’s jerseys, and I am getting hyped for the season ahead! While any Irish fan knows the mixed emotions of a clean slate following a season of hardships, the 2021 season comes with a sense of hope all its own. I’m looking forward to many aspects of the new season as CFB heads back to normal in some ways and shifts into the future in others.
I’m especially excited to see the young talent making debuts in the gold and blue in the 2021 season and the veteran players heading into the season with added eligibility thanks to the NCAA’s response to the pandemic. I know I’m not the only Irish fan who will be watching for Audric Estime to make an impact at running back this season. The pressure is on for this true freshman as his size and physicality have built up high expectations.
Of the seasoned Irish, I’ll be especially interested in watching how defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman chooses to use Kurt Hinish in the coming season. He has the aggression and the size, and I’m excited to see how his pass rush work and conditioning time will pay off.
Finally Cashing In
I’ve always believed that there has been more heart in the college game than in the pros, and I’m excited to see dedicated student-athletes break free from the limits of longstanding restrictions. The NCAA’s new name, image and likeness (NIL) policy marks a long-overdue change. Irish fans have seen Notre Dame’s Kyle Hamilton, Kyren Williams, and Kevin Austin Jr. partner with YOKE, a gaming app. I am excited to see how the changes will influence the talent Notre Dame attracts in the 2022 season and beyond and the impact of non-scholarship athletes across the league.
Back to Normal
Along with new and faces as well as unprecedented changes to the student-athlete experience, I’m looking forward to a more social college football-watching experience in the season ahead. Living by myself, the isolation that has come with the COVID-19 pandemic had been one of the strangest struggles of my life. However, the wonderful world of Notre Dame Twitter, One Foot Down, and the Fighting Irish fans in my circle of friends and family helped keep me connected with the outside world and helped me maintain a positive attitude. I can’t wait to regain the full experience and sit down for that Florida State game with my family and take it all in again.
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