Notre Dame’s offensive depth chart as spring practices approach
The calendar may still read February, but 50-degree temperatures are less than a week away at Notre Dame. Spring is just about here, including Irish spring practices, which will begin in fewer than three weeks.
Before those first practices, a look at the depth chart is needed, both to set the framework for the first few of those 15 practices and to have a baseline to compare to after the Blue-Gold Game on April 23.
For today, let’s look at the offense. Some positions are more unclear than others; that is what spring practices can help sort out.
— Sophomore (as of next season) Tyler Buchner (three years of eligibility remaining) will be the starter, and it would take quite a surprising spring for that to change.— Junior Drew Pyne (four years of eligibility remaining, thanks to the universal pandemic eligibility waiver) will be Buchner’s backup, and with any mobile quarterback, that backup role is of note.— Early-enrolled freshman Steve Angeli, who the Irish will want to have ready to at least be the primary backup quarterback, just in case of injury to either of Buchner or Pyne.— Sophomore Ron Powlus III, still with four years of eligibility remaining.
— Junior Chris Tyree (three years of eligibility remaining, thanks to the universal pandemic elgiibiltiy waiver) should start out as the top back, but Notre Dame’s lack of depth at receiver could lead to some additional time spent out wide.— Sophomore Logan Diggs (three years of eligibility remaining) after taking 52 carries for 230 yards in his debut campaign.— Sophomore Audric Estime (three years of eligibility remaining), only mildly physically intimidating (see below).— Fifth-year C’Bo Flemister, listed on the spring roster per und.com, though that is somewhat a surprise considering Flemister’s 2021 was spent either in the proverbial doghouse or injured on the sideline and a transfer could lead to a greater role in a less crowded backfield.— Early-enrolled freshman Jadarian Price, potentially a key depth piece if Tyree has to dabble at receiver and Flemister is possibly simply working toward his degree this spring.
— Fifth-year Braden Lenzy (two years of eligibility remaining thanks to the universal pandemic eligibility waiver), the unquestioned leader of the position due to both seniority and health.— Sophomore Lorenzo Styles (three years), who best fits as Lenzy’s backup but will be moved around the field to get both of them on the field at the same time.— Freshman Tobias Merriweather, though he will not show up until the summer.
— Sixth-year Avery Davis, recovering from an ACL tear in November, so he may not be much of a factor this spring.— Sophomore Jayden Thomas (four years), the type of big body that is more and more preferred in the slot because he can offer run blocking near the box, similar to a second tight end’s typical role.
— Fifth-year Joe Wilkins (two years), recovering from an October meniscus tear.— Sophomore Deion Colzie (three years), who saw plenty of action last season as Notre Dame wore down to only four healthy receivers.— Fifth-year former walk-on Matt Salerno, perhaps only a depth piece at receiver, but when only eight receivers are on the roster, every piece of depth is valuable.
— Junior Michael Mayer, who may have three seasons of eligibility remaining but will assuredly use only one before heading to the NFL.— Sophomore Mitchell Evans (three years), a big-bodied but inexperienced target that could work well in tandem with Mayer, not to mention he is healthy.— Junior Kevin Bauman (three years), coming off a broken leg.— Sophomore Cane Berrong (four years), coming off an ACL tear.— Freshman Holden Staes, a summer arrival.— Freshman Eli Raridon, coming off an ACL tear and a summer arrival.
— Sophomore Joe Alt (three years) sewed this gig up in the second half of the 2021 season, even if he was the fourth Irish option tried at left tackle.— Junior Michael Carmody (three years) could back up at left or right tackle.
— Senior Andrew Kristofic (three years) paired well with Alt to push Notre Dame into Playoff contention last season.— Senior Zeke Correll (three years), replaced by Kristofic last season, but could also work as a reserve at center, where he started his career.
— Fifth-year Jarrett Patterson, back somewhat surprisingly for one last go-round.— Sophomore Pat Coogan (four years), if Correll does not return to these duties in preparation for 2023.
— Sixth-year Josh Lugg, presumably. Even before he returned, Lugg made it clear he was open to a move to guard due to the impressive showings from freshmen at tackle.— Sophomore Rocco Spindler (four years), likely moving after working at left guard last preseason because Kristofic will present a longer road-block to starting than Lugg will.
— Sophomore Blake Fisher (four years), fresh off bookending starts as a freshman, the figurative books in this instance being a torn meniscus.— Junior Tosh Baker (three years), like Carmody, could back up at left or right tackle.
OTHER OFFENSIVE LINEMEN
Where these six linemen work is anybody’s guess, each may move around the line this spring on the third string. All six have four years of eligibility remaining.
— Sophomore Caleb Johnson, more likely a tackle than a guard.— Freshman Ty Chan, ditto.— Same goes for freshmen Aamil Wagner and Ashton Craig.
— Early-enrolled freshmen Billy Schrauth and Joey Tanona, both more prototypical guards than tackles, but one never knows as offensive line coach Harry Hiestand always preferred to first identify his five best linemen and then figure out how he could get them all on the field at the same time.