For years Notre Dame has struggled with depth. Brian Kelly has typically been able to put together a quality group of starters. An All-American or two could sometimes break through and Notre Dame has been piling up the 10 win seasons over the last few years. But a major problem has been depth when they play against the top tier teams. Everything went down hill for Notre Dame once Julian Love went down with an injury. On top of being outclassed in 2012, depth and special teams were a major problem against Alabama in the National Championship.
Notre Dame has now been putting together consistency and the recruiting has improved. As I write that sentence I know fans will complain that Notre Dame lacks the five stars. But 2018 could be one of the best classes Brian Kelly has brought in during his Notre Dame tenure.
Now Notre Dame has a team with playoff experience and younger players that got to see action. This includes an offensive line that could all be returning next season. A corner in Houston Griffith that was Notre Dame’s top recruit in the 2018 class trying to break the number two corner spot. Receivers like Michael Young and Kevin Austin to be the number three receiver and the list goes on.
In years past these players would be expected to step into key roles and forced to play when they weren’t ready. Now because of returning players like Khalid Kareem and Chase Claypool,younger players can play sparingly. this could be seen most useful in both the edge rusher and safety positions.
Notre Dame will have one of the best edge rotations and newcomers like Nana Osafo-Mensah and Isaiah Foskey can learn and play in a better environment. This will also benefit Kyle Hamilton, the four or five star recruit depending on which agency you ask. Hamilton will have players like Troy Pride and Alohi Gilman to help with the learning curve. He was the number one recruit in Notre Dame’s 2019 class and will likely see the field. He could even see plenty of time at the slot corner position based on what happens with Shaun Crawford.
While this is just a few mentioned players, Notre Dame is having some young, talented players waiting for their shot. The days of Joe Schmidt have passed and Notre Dame is getting more four star recruits as back ups. (Not a knock on Joe Schmidt, he was a great player but more a reference to a walk on.)
Depth has always been an issue for Notre Dame but it is slowly changing as they build more off recent success. This is the first offseason in a few years where the Fighting Irish are loaded with potential. Kelly was able to buck some trends last season and has been rebuilding this team from the ground up since 4-8. Bringing in enough talent to play with the top teams in the Country doesn’t happen over night. The depth issue of past may not be completely fixed, but it is headed in the right direction.
Started Saturday Tailgate in 2018. Covering all things college football and talking Notre Dame on Twitter.