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Notre Dame 99-to-2: No. 20 C’Bo Flemister, sophomore running back

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 08 Ball State at Notre Dame

SOUTH BEND, IN - SEPTEMBER 08: Notre Dame Fighting Irish running back C’Bo Flemister runs the ball during the college football game between the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the Ball State Cardinals on September 8, 2018, at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, Indiana. The Notre Dame Fighting Irish defeated the Ball State Cardinals 24-16. (Photo by Marcus Snowden/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Listed Measurements: 5-foot-11 ¼, 195 pounds.2019-20 year, eligibility: A sophomore, Flemister has four seasons of eligibility remaining, including 2019, after appearing in only two games last year.Depth chart: Flemister lagged behind classmate Jahmir Smith and early-enrolled freshman Kyren Williams this spring in the competition to be third among Irish running backs behind junior Jafar Armstrong and senior Tony Jones. Flemister could yet make his claim this preseason.Recruiting: From a commitment to Georgia Southern to one to Georgia Tech to finally settling on Notre Dame, Flemister’s recruitment slowly gained more and more notice. It was boosted, at least as it pertains to the only school mentioned outside of Flemister’s homestate of Georgia, by the dismissals of two Irish running backs early in the 2018 offseason.

Flemister managed two appearances (vs. Ball State, at Virginia Tech) last season, taking one carry for no gain in the latter and returning three kickoffs for 65 yards, an average of 21.7 per return, with a long of 26 yards in the former. The kick return work came in just the second week of the season, seemingly something of an audition for further work.

When Flemister finished the Blue-Gold Game with 13 yards on eight carries, it seemed to cement his status as the fifth of five running backs. Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly did not write him off so quickly.

“C’Bo is slippery,” Kelly said following the spring finale. “He’s low to the ground. He has pretty good vision, he hits the hole well. You look up, think he hasn’t done anything, and he has five yards. Good natural instincts at that position.”

“Flemister’s quick first burst and physical running style make him a model mop-up duty reserve. He will get from the handoff to the line, avoiding tackles in the backfield, and will usually fall forward on a tackle, guaranteeing two yards per rush. When draining the clock, that is nearly all that is needed.

“... Until Notre Dame starts routinely signing four- and five-star running backs, each backfield ball carrier will have the chance to shine for a season. Flemister can position himself for that honor next year, dutifully supporting Jones and outplaying Smith. Then, come 2020 or 2021, it will be Flemister’s show.

“He will need to develop in both facets of the passing game, (Dexter) Williams’ playing time struggles speak to that requirement, but Flemister has time to do so before the stigma of that fate is attached to him.”

Armstrong’s emergence last fall, when healthy, hurt Flemister’s playing chances as much as Smith’s and Williams’ solid springs did. The Irish know who their top two running backs are, meaning Flemister’s best (only) chance this season comes with their wear-and-tear, inevitable as it seems to be at this position.

That’s where Smith and Williams could cost Flemister. Put simply, they both looked better throughout the spring. Flemister’s best moments came in the passing game, though Smith has made strides there.

Thus, Flemister’s best chance for an impact this year could come at kick returner. That has previously been the domain of junior receiver Michael Young, but moving into a starting role on offense could earn Young time to breath during kickoffs. Flemister has the straight line speed and shifty hips wanted from a kick returner, and something about him clearly made Notre Dame consider him at kick returner for a week last season. At the least, expect a few preseason reports of Flemister getting a chance to earn that gig.

Armstrong has three seasons of eligibility remaining, though if he uses them all, that likely speaks to a lack of production. The Irish would rather he star and leave early, quite frankly. That may happen in 2019, or perhaps not until 2020.

When Armstrong jumps to the NFL, Flemister will get a clear shot at becoming Notre Dame’s dual-threat running back. That is, until class of 2020 running back Chris Tyree finds his collegiate footing.

Remember this above line, quoted from a year ago? “Until Notre Dame starts routinely signing four- and five-star running backs, each backfield ball carrier will have the chance to shine for a season …”

Tyree is such a recruit, distinctly changing Flemister’s window. His best hope is for Armstrong to break out in 2019, declare early for the NFL draft, and then seize the subsequent opportunity in the spring before Tyree has a chance to.

NOTRE DAME 99-to-2:
No. 95: Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, defensive tackle
No. 94: Isaiah Foskey, freshman defensive end, consensus four-star
No. 94: Darnell Ewell, defensive tackle
No. 91: Ade Ogundeji, defensive end
No. 90: Hunter Spears, defensive tackle, early-enrolled consensus four-star
No. 89: Brock Wright, tight end
No. 88: Javon McKinley, receiver
No. 87: Michael Young, receiver
No. 85: George Takacs, tight end
No. 84: Cole Kmet, tight end
No. 83: Chase Claypool, receiver
No. 80: Micah Jones, receiver
No. 78: Tommy Kraemer, right guard, three-year starter
No. 77: Quinn Carroll, offensive tackle, early-enrolled consensus four-star
No. 76: Dillan Gibbons, offensive guard
No. 75: Josh Lugg, offensive lineman
No. 74: Liam Eichenberg, left tackle, two-year starter
No. 73: Andrew Kristofic, offensive tackle, early-enrolled consensus four-star
No. 72: Robert Hainsey, offensive tackle, three-year starter
No. 71: John Olmstead, offensive lineman, early-enrolled consensus four-star
No. 69: Aaron Banks, left guard
No. 60: Cole Mabry, offensive tackle
No. 57: Trevor Ruhland, veteran backup offensive lineman
No. 57: Jayson Ademilola, defensive tackle
No. 56: John Dirksen, offensive lineman
No. 56: Howard Cross, incoming freshman defensive lineman, consensus four-star
No. 55: Jarrett Patterson, starting center
No. 55: Ja’Mion Franklin, defensive tackle returning from injury
No. 54: Jacob Lacey, consensus four-star defensive tackle, early enrollee
No. 54: John Shannon, long snapper
No. 53: Khalid Kareem, senior defensive end
No. 52: Zeke Correll, consensus four-star center, early enrollee
No. 52: Bo Bauer, linebacker, sophomore
No. 47: Kofi Wardlow, junior defensive end
No. 45: Jonathan Jones, senior inside linebacker
No. 44: Jamir Jones, senior defensive end
No. 42: Julian Okwara, senior defensive end
No. 41: Kurt Hinish, junior defensive tackle
No. 40: Drew White, junior inside linebacker
No. 39: Jonathan Doerer, junior kicker
No. 35: TaRiq Bracy, sophomore cornerback
No. 35: Marist Liufau, Hawaiian freshman linebacker
No. 34: Jahmir Smith, sophomore running back
No. 34: Osita Ekwonu, inside linebacker, consensus four-star
No. 33: Shayne Simon, sophomore linebacker
No. 31: Jack Lamb, sophomore linebacker
No. 30: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, junior linebacker
No. 29: Ovie Oghoufo, sophomore linebacker-turned-defensive end
No. 27: J.D. Bertrand, consensus four-star linebacker
No. 25: Braden Lenzy, speedy sophomore receiver
No. 24: Tommy Tremble, sophomore tight end
No. 24: Jack Kiser, early-enrolled freshman linebacker, Mr. Indiana Football
No. 23: Litchfield Ajavon, four-star safety, freshman
No. 23: Kyren Williams, early-enrolled freshman running back
No. 22: Kendall Abdur-Rahman, quarterback-turned-receiver, freshman
No. 22: Asmar Bilal, the only returning starting linebacker
No. 21: Jalen Elliott, three-year starting safety
No. 20: Shaun Crawford, defensive back returning from yet another injury