Notre Dame 99-to-0: No. 41 Kurt Hinish, fifth-year defensive tackle, eventual record-holder in games played

Kurt Hinish
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Listed measurements: 6-foot-1 ¾, 296 pounds.
2021-22 year, eligibility: Hinish is only eligible in 2021 due to the universal pandemic eligibility waiver, thus granting him a very unexpected fifth season.
Depth Chart: Hinish will start at nose tackle with juniors Howard Cross and Jacob Lacey rotating in plenty to keep all fresh.
Recruiting: Hinish serves not only as the evidence of what can come from a three-star prospect, but also as proof of what a steadfast commitment can do for a recruiting class as a whole. As Notre Dame stumbled to a 4-8 finish in 2016, the majority of its class held firm, led by a Pittsburgh contingent which was in turn led by Hinish.

Irish head coach Brian Kelly pointed to that grouping as holding together the group of 15 that ballooned into 21 shortly before signing day in 2017.

“All those pieces moving together started with the 15, why they wanted to be part of Notre Dame,” Kelly said that February. “… All those (Pittsburgh) guys were kind of together as one. They kind of ran in a pack. That helped.”

NAME, IMAGE, LIKENESS
Some things transcend money and immediately vault themselves into true greatness. Hinish announcing his 2021 return qualified as such.

His actual quote describing that decision is also worthwhile, but nowhere near as entertaining, instead much more to the point.

“After the game last year, kind of had a sour taste in my mouth, and I had one more year that was offered,” Hinish said. “I took the opportunity to stay.”

CAREER TO DATE
Hinish found himself immediately in a contributing role as the second-string defensive tackle in 2017, a holdover symptom from the ills that plagued the Irish in 2016, furthered by injuries to Daniel Cage and Elijah Taylor. Appearing in 12 games that year set Hinish on a path toward a now-inevitable record.

He backed up Jonathan Bonner in 2018 before taking over as a starter the last two seasons.

2017: 12 games, 8 tackles including 0.5 for loss.
2018: 13 games, 13 tackles including two for loss with 1.5 sacks.
2019: 13 games, 15 tackles including 4.5 for loss with two sacks and one forced fumble.
2020: 12 games, 19 tackles including 7.5 for loss with two sacks.

THAT RECORD
Further investigation is not necessary. No other Notre Dame player has had the opportunity to play in more than 52 games until former Irish defensive end Daelin Hayes could reach a maximum of 55 in his career thanks to the very exact timing of his 2019 shoulder injury. All the same, missing a few games earlier in his career capped Hayes’ appearances at 53.

Hinish has already appeared in 50 games. If he plays in four this year, he will set a record for most games in a Notre Dame uniform. If he plays in seven, then the record begins to reach unattainable status.

The impending expansion of the College Football Playoff would raise the maximum possible once it is instituted [(12 regular season + 4 playoff games) x 4 seasons + 4 games in an injury-shortened year = 68], but that begins to be a pie in the sky hope, not to mention one Hinish can get within vague range of this season.

If clichés are clichés for a reason — because they are true — then it is somewhat fitting a three-star nose tackle from Pittsburgh will hold the Notre Dame record for most games played.

“That obviously would be very cool that I’d leave my mark on this program, but that’s not something I’m worried about at this moment,” Hinish said in April. “As the season goes on and when the season ends, if that is the case, yeah, I’ll be happy that’s the way I left my mark on this program.”

 

WHAT WAS SAID TWO YEARS AGO
Only trotting this out in this instance because it focuses on Hinish’s game totals …

“Presuming his own health, Hinish should start in 2020. In the end he could appear in 51 of 52 career games, starting in as many as 26. Gross tackle figures aside, those numbers will be the testament to Hinish’s career, ones bolstered by his ability to be ready from day one.

“He was not expected to be. This space very much predicted a redshirt season.

“Thus, do not look at Hinish’s lack of size as a sure sign he could not last for a few years in the NFL. He has already made it clear what he thinks of common expectations.”

QUOTE
For a nose tackle whose primary responsibility is absorbing and maintaining blocks, Hinish has made a quiet career of penetrating into the backfield. Making 14.5 tackles in the backfield, including 12 in the last two seasons, with 5.5 sacks is no small feat.

New Irish defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman’s system may only emphasize that ability.

“I love the new scheme,” Hinish said. “Coach Freeman is a great coach. I’m able to be cut loose a little bit more. I get a lot more one-on-one blocks with the center, which I rarely lose, which is nice.”

RELATED READING: With Kurt Hinish returning, Notre Dame’s interior defensive line a 2021 strength
Hainsey, Hinish and Pittsburgh key Notre Dame’s return from 2016’s debacle

2021 OUTLOOK
Hinish opting in for this unexpected fifth season may be the single greatest boost to Freeman’s first year at Notre Dame. Despite losing both starting defensive ends, the Irish return not only defensive line experience and depth, but also stability.

Hinish will quietly, as is always his case unless it involves eye black, be the engine to Freeman’s defense. Three-technique tackle Jayson Ademilola may sometimes slide out to end or may interchange with tackle-turned-end Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa. The Vyper/drop ends may sometimes cameo as linebackers. Freeman’s entire approach highlights varying defensive line looks.

But in all of them, Hinish will be in the middle, facing off against that center.

His tackles for loss were slowly increasing even before Freeman arrived, so let’s be bold and suggest Notre Dame’s starting nose tackle will make 10 tackles for loss in 2021.

DOWN THE ROAD
At the absolute least, Hinish will get a look at the next level. At that point, what sense would it make to bet against the eventual career leader in games played in an Irish uniform?

NOTRE DAME 99-TO-0
Let’s try this again
No. 99 Rylie Mills, sophomore defensive tackle
No. 98 Alexander Ehrensberger, sophomore defensive end
No. 97 Gabriel Rubio, early-enrolled freshman defensive tackle the size of a Volkswagen
No. 95 Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, fifth-year defensive tackle-turned-end
No. 92 Aidan Keanaaina, sophomore defensive tackle
No. 88 Mitchell Evans, early-enrolled freshman tight end, a former high school quarterback
No. 87 Michael Mayer, star sophomore tight end and lead offensive weapon
No. 85 George Takacs, senior tight end, ‘152 years old’
No. 84 Kevin Bauman, sophomore tight end
No. 82 Xavier Watts, sophomore receiver
No. 81 Jay Brunelle, speedy sophomore receiver
No. 80 Cane Berrong, early-enrolled freshman tight end
No. 79 Tosh Baker, sophomore offensive tackle
No. 78 Pat Coogan, incoming freshman center
No. 77 Quinn Carroll, junior offensive lineman
No. 76 Joe Alt, incoming and towering freshman offensive lineman
No. 75 Josh Lugg, fifth-year right tackle, finally a starter
No. 73 Andrew Kristofic, junior offensive tackle, possible backup center
No. 72 Caleb Johnson, early-enrolled offensive tackle, former Auburn commit
No. 70 Hunter Spears, junior offensive guard, former defensive tackle
No. 68 Michael Carmody, sophomore offensive tackle
No. 62 Marshall guard Cain Madden transfers to Notre Dame, likely 2021 starter
No. 57 Jayson Ademilola, senior defensive tackle
No. 56 John Dirksen, senior reserve offensive lineman
No. 56 Howard Cross, junior defensive tackle
No. 55 Jarrett Patterson, the best Irish offensive lineman
No. 54 Jacob Lacey, junior defensive tackle
No. 54 Blake Fisher, early-enrolled freshman left tackle, starter?
No. 52 Zeke Correll, junior, starting center
No. 52 Bo Bauer, senior linebacker, #BeADog
No. 50 Rocco Spindler, early-enrolled freshman offensive guard
No. 48 Will Schweitzer, early-enrolled freshman defensive end
No. 44 Devin Aupiu, early-enrolled freshman defensive end
No. 44 Alex Peitsch and No. 65 Michael Vinson, Irish long snappers, both needed

Notre Dame 99-to-0: No. 44 Alex Peitsch and No. 65 Michael Vinson, Irish long snappers, both needed

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 22 Notre Dame at Wake Forest
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If 2020 taught college football anything — aside from the ability to schedule games on the fly, the added value of the FCS playing in the fall and the inevitability of the coaching carousel no matter the outside circumstances — it was the value of the long snapper.

Long-only noticed when a certain head coach quipped, “He’s the long snapper,” out of exasperation during a halftime interview, an emergency long snapper situation seemed to arise somewhere in the country on a weekly basis. Most rosters have only one, and when that player was ruled out for a week due to coronavirus protocols, that team could no longer safely punt. Things went so awry for Louisiana Lafayette late in the season, the Ragin’ Cajuns intentionally took a safety — their second safety of the fourth quarter — in the closing minutes of a game they led by only five, giving Appalachian State a viable chance at a tie or even a win.

By that point in the year, an early December game, it was not even terribly shocking to be in the position.

Such moments should not be as prevalent in 2021, if happening at all, as teams and universities strongly encourage their players to get vaccinated, but still, lesson learned: Have two long snappers.

Notre Dame already did.

Walk-on Michael Vinson beat out then-freshman Alex Peitsch for the starting gig in 2020 and will presumably hold onto that honor in 2021, but either way, if the Irish need to dig into long snapper reserves, they are the rare team to have a long snapper reserve.

This 99-to-0 entry slots in at Peitsch’s number, No. 44, despite Vinson, No. 65, being the likely starter. There is no great reason for that other than some springtime outlines sketched it out that way. So we’ll start by rattling through Peitsch’s information, but make no mistake, both long snappers matter. 2020 proved that.

 

ALEX PEITSCH
Listed measurements: 6-foot-1 ⅛, 208 pounds.
2021-22 year, eligibility: A sophomore, Peitsch still has four seasons of eligibility remaining.
Depth Chart: Expect Vinson to start with Peitsch the hopefully unnecessary emergency option that was so rare when needed in 2020.
Recruiting: Widely considered the No. 1 or No. 2 long snapper in the class of 2020, the Under Armour All-American committed to Notre Dame eight full months before signing.

CAREER TO DATE
Peitsch appeared in the 52-0 blowout of South Florida in 2020.

NAME, IMAGE, LIKENESS
Could Peitsch secure a small bit of compensation from the specialty camp he once frequented? It would make some sense.

2021 OUTLOOK
While Vinson should remain the starter, Peitsch may see more mop-up duty this season. Even in a year with some roster uncertainty, the Irish should blow out the likes of Toledo, Navy and Stanford, at which point every backup should get work, even if doing so jeopardizes a kicker’s percentages or net yardages.

DOWN THE ROAD
Vinson will almost certainly end his collegiate career after 2021, at which point Peitsch will still have three seasons of eligibility remaining. There should be every expectation he starts for at least two of those.

MICHAEL VINSON
Listed measurements: 6-foot-2, 226 pounds.
2021-22 year, eligibility: A senior, Vinson could have as many as three seasons of eligibility remaining.
Recruiting: A walk-on, Vinson would be one of the first two names called by Irish head coach Brian Kelly if the roster ends up with a spare couple scholarships in 2021.

CAREER TO DATE
Vinson played in two games in 2019 before handling all first-team duties in 2020.

AWARD WATCH
Vinson was nominated for the Burlsworth Trophy in 2020, recognizing the country’s most outstanding present or former walk-on. While it would be a surprise to see a long snapper win that, it is at least a bit of recognition for a player who once upon a time may have never thought he would get any whatsoever.

NAME, IMAGE, LIKENESS
Again, maybe someday these specialists can get a few dates paid for by their past coaches.

QUOTE
While Notre Dame intentionally supplemented its specialists room with preferred walk-ons, it had no idea Vinson would create the comfort levels he did as far as depth concerns go.

“We invited Michael into the program as a freshman because we felt like he had potential to be the backup, that he could get us out of a game if we had to,” Irish special teams coordinator Brian Polian said in April. “Over the course of two years, he worked so diligently and so hard off to the side on his own, and he worked so hard at trying to get stronger and to be athletic enough to function on the coverage units down there, trying to cover a punt against (Alabama’s) DeVonta Smith.

“I can’t express how proud I am that we brought a scholarship freshman in (Peitsch) and Michael beat him out, fair and square. That’s all we can promise, ‘Hey, Michael, you’ll get the chance to compete.’ Sure enough, he won the job and he won it cleanly.”

2021 OUTLOOK
Very simply, aside from perhaps a punt tackle or two, Notre Dame would rather you never think about “Milk” again. Thus is the nature of the long snapper position.

That is the moral of this story. In 2020, long snapper debacles became a weekly occurrence. The national laughter was matched only by cringes as games devolved after the first bad snap led to a hesitant second snap and then an anxiety-riddled third.

Vinson proving himself capable, let alone the starter, made it so the Irish could survive the pandemic without any long snapper panic.

NOTRE DAME 99-TO-0
Let’s try this again
No. 99 Rylie Mills, sophomore defensive tackle
No. 98 Alexander Ehrensberger, sophomore defensive end
No. 97 Gabriel Rubio, early-enrolled freshman defensive tackle the size of a Volkswagen
No. 95 Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, fifth-year defensive tackle-turned-end
No. 92 Aidan Keanaaina, sophomore defensive tackle
No. 88 Mitchell Evans, early-enrolled freshman tight end, a former high school quarterback
No. 87 Michael Mayer, star sophomore tight end and lead offensive weapon
No. 85 George Takacs, senior tight end, ‘152 years old’
No. 84 Kevin Bauman, sophomore tight end
No. 82 Xavier Watts, sophomore receiver
No. 81 Jay Brunelle, speedy sophomore receiver
No. 80 Cane Berrong, early-enrolled freshman tight end
No. 79 Tosh Baker, sophomore offensive tackle
No. 78 Pat Coogan, incoming freshman center
No. 77 Quinn Carroll, junior offensive lineman
No. 76 Joe Alt, incoming and towering freshman offensive lineman
No. 75 Josh Lugg, fifth-year right tackle, finally a starter
No. 73 Andrew Kristofic, junior offensive tackle, possible backup center
No. 72 Caleb Johnson, early-enrolled offensive tackle, former Auburn commit
No. 70 Hunter Spears, junior offensive guard, former defensive tackle
No. 68 Michael Carmody, sophomore offensive tackle
No. 62 Marshall guard Cain Madden transfers to Notre Dame, likely 2021 starter
No. 57 Jayson Ademilola, senior defensive tackle
No. 56 John Dirksen, senior reserve offensive lineman
No. 56 Howard Cross, junior defensive tackle
No. 55 Jarrett Patterson, the best Irish offensive lineman
No. 54 Jacob Lacey, junior defensive tackle
No. 54 Blake Fisher, early-enrolled freshman left tackle, starter?
No. 52 Zeke Correll, junior, starting center
No. 52 Bo Bauer, senior linebacker, #BeADog
No. 50 Rocco Spindler, early-enrolled freshman offensive guard
No. 48 Will Schweitzer, early-enrolled freshman defensive end
No. 44 Devin Aupiu, early-enrolled freshman defensive end

Notre Dame 99-to-0: No. 44 Devin Aupiu, early-enrolled freshman defensive end

Devin Aupiu
@aupiu44
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Listed measurements: 6-foot-5 ¼, 220 pounds.
2021-22 year, eligibility: The one class on Notre Dame’s roster with clear eligibility parameters, Aupiu has four seasons of eligibility remaining.
Depth Chart: Aupiu should tag-team with classmate (and fellow Californian and defensive end; these two will be compared incessantly the next few years) Will Schweitzer as the third-string Vyper/drop end behind junior Isaiah Foskey and sophomore Jordan Botelho.
Recruiting: A consensus three-star prospect and the No. 38 defensive end in the class, per rivals.com, Aupiu flipped his commitment to the Irish from UCLA only a week before December’s early signing period, after being committed to the Bruins for seven months and only recently being offered a scholarship to Notre Dame.

Much like Schweitzer’s recruitment being one of the last in-person visits for Irish coaches, Aupiu’s time learning about Notre Dame served as an example of pandemic recruiting. Taking a look at UCLA was easy for the Southern California native. Taking a look at northern Indiana, well, may have been even easier.

“Everything about [Notre Dame] is televised and on YouTube, so I’ve done my own research,” he said when he flipped his commitment. “I’ve done a lot of research on YouTube. The best way to get to know something is to see it. If you can’t be there in person, so I’ve seen the pep rallies, filling up the stands and stuff like that.”

NAME, IMAGE, LIKENESS
The internet loves to slander people who slander In-N-Out, so this is not intended to stoke them, but as someone who has never thought all that much of In-N-Out, Aupiu made it look bothersomely good in this video from December’s signing period. And that aggravates this scribe, having just spent a week in Los Angeles and San Diego and never got In-N-Out once.

QUOTE
Handing over a lengthy and raw defensive end prospect to Irish defensive line coach Mike Elston has worked well through Notre Dame’s four-years-and-counting resurgence. He expects similar results with Aupiu, and not only because of that wingspan.

“The great thing about Devin is that he’s a football junkie,” Elston said in February. “When we talked during the recruiting process, it wasn’t about the glitz and the glamour. He wanted to talk football.

“He wanted to know why [former Irish defensive end Daelin Hayes] is in a two-point stance with his outside foot up and his inside foot back? ‘I think I’ll feel more comfortable with my inside foot up.’”

WHAT WAS SAID WHEN AUPIU SIGNED
“Elston will find a way to get any viable defensive line contributor onto the field, a significant aspect of the defense’s success the last few years. With both defensive ends matriculating after this season, he will need to find new contributors moving forward. Some are already obvious (Jordan Botelho), but there will be snaps to be had. That said, it should be acknowledged Aupiu has not played since 2019. Early enrollment will help with that rust, but that return to football speed may take some time.”

2021 OUTLOOK
It would be smart, in the long-term, for Notre Dame to play both Schweitzer and Aupiu in no more than four games apiece this season, thus preserving a year of eligibility, but that will leave the Irish with only two every-game Vyper ends. Staggering Schweitzer’s and Aupiu’s appearances will cover most of that, eight of 13 (or 14) games in the season.

But a gap that size may force one into more action than just four games. Aupiu’s health and length, compared to Schweitzer, make him the more likely candidate for an extended run. That could also play into some special teams contributions, or vice versa.

Even then, while the reps will be worthwhile, it will be only in minimal duty, as Foskey and Botelho look ready to unleash a dynamic duo off that edge.

DOWN THE ROAD
Foskey may have reason to head to the NFL after the 2021 season. It is not such that it would be a surprise if he did not, but consider the possibility a toss-up for this conversation.

That will leave only Botelho on the Vyper end, a pivotal position in new Notre Dame defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman’s scheme. Aupiu’s length will expedite his path to playing time, as well as garner certain comparisons to developmental successes of the past. (It has taken great effort not to mention Ade Ogundeji yet, achieved only because he and Aupiu play different positions.)

Every recruiting cycle, one or two players get more buzz than their rankings reflect. In the pandemic cycle, that was Aupiu. His penchant for defensive playmaking was de-emphasized in this recruiting process by California not having a fall football season.

More often than not, that kind of quiet hype anecdotally hints at a junior year breakthrough, so go ahead and keep an eye on Aupiu heading into 2023.

NOTRE DAME 99-TO-0
Let’s try this again
No. 99 Rylie Mills, sophomore defensive tackle
No. 98 Alexander Ehrensberger, sophomore defensive end
No. 97 Gabriel Rubio, early-enrolled freshman defensive tackle the size of a Volkswagen
No. 95 Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, fifth-year defensive tackle-turned-end
No. 92 Aidan Keanaaina, sophomore defensive tackle
No. 88 Mitchell Evans, early-enrolled freshman tight end, a former high school quarterback
No. 87 Michael Mayer, star sophomore tight end and lead offensive weapon
No. 85 George Takacs, senior tight end, ‘152 years old’
No. 84 Kevin Bauman, sophomore tight end
No. 82 Xavier Watts, sophomore receiver
No. 81 Jay Brunelle, speedy sophomore receiver
No. 80 Cane Berrong, early-enrolled freshman tight end
No. 79 Tosh Baker, sophomore offensive tackle
No. 78 Pat Coogan, incoming freshman center
No. 77 Quinn Carroll, junior offensive lineman
No. 76 Joe Alt, incoming and towering freshman offensive lineman
No. 75 Josh Lugg, fifth-year right tackle, finally a starter
No. 73 Andrew Kristofic, junior offensive tackle, possible backup center
No. 72 Caleb Johnson, early-enrolled offensive tackle, former Auburn commit
No. 70 Hunter Spears, junior offensive guard, former defensive tackle
No. 68 Michael Carmody, sophomore offensive tackle
No. 62 Marshall guard Cain Madden transfers to Notre Dame, likely 2021 starter
No. 57 Jayson Ademilola, senior defensive tackle
No. 56 John Dirksen, senior reserve offensive lineman
No. 56 Howard Cross, junior defensive tackle
No. 55 Jarrett Patterson, the best Irish offensive lineman
No. 54 Jacob Lacey, junior defensive tackle
No. 54 Blake Fisher, early-enrolled freshman left tackle, starter?
No. 52 Zeke Correll, junior, starting center
No. 52 Bo Bauer, senior linebacker, #BeADog
No. 50 Rocco Spindler, early-enrolled freshman offensive guard
No. 48 Will Schweitzer, early-enrolled freshman defensive end

Notre Dame 99-to-0: No. 48 Will Schweitzer, early-enrolled freshman defensive end

Will Schweitzer
rivals.com
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Listed measurements: 6-foot-4, 215 pounds.
2021-22 year, eligibility: The one class on Notre Dame’s roster with clear eligibility parameters, as an early-enrolled freshman Schweitzer has four seasons of eligibility remaining.
Depth Chart: Wherever Schweitzer ends up in new Irish defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman’s scheme, he has time to develop. Either the early enrollee remains at drop/Vyper as he was eventually recruited for, the defensive end with some vague coverage responsibilities, or he becomes the corresponding linebacker, one with some blitzing responsibilities. In both spots, Notre Dame has at least a pair of more established players ready to split time.
Recruiting: A consensus three-star and the No. 29 defensive end in the class, per rivals.com, the California native chose the Irish over most of the Pac 12, as well as Virginia Tech, Michigan State and Arkansas. Of all those Power Five offers, Schweitzer originally committed to Nebraska.

NAME, IMAGE, LIKENESS

QUOTE
Schweitzer’s recruitment may end up as the best case study of pandemic prospecting …

“Schweitzer is actually the last prospect I saw in person,” then-recruiting coordinator, now associate head coach Brian Polian said in December. “I was in Schwetizer’s school in January before the cycle ended and we haven’t been back out since. [Former Notre Dame defensive coordinator] Clark Lea and I loved him.

“The issue when he was a junior was that he was playing linebacker. He was 205 or 208 pounds. Why are you recruiting this guy to play the Vyper position when he’s standing up? You don’t see him pass rush that much, but his motor was so good and we knew because we had seen him, he’s got length, he is 6-foot-4-plus.”

All that is why the Cornhuskers were so interested in the first place, holding a Schweitzer commitment through two months of summer, the peak of pandemic uncertainty in college football. Throughout that time, the Irish could not see Schweitzer, not because of the Nebraska pledge, but because of the recruiting dead period induced by the pandemic. That slowed Notre Dame’s transition from viewing Schweitzer as a linebacker to viewing him as a possible defensive end.

“Through the summer, even though he was committed to Nebraska, we never stopped communicating with him and we were watching his body,” Polian said. “He’d send us photos and video and you’re seeing his body start to fill out.

“When the time was right and the numbers allowed it, we offered him and we felt great about it.”

WHAT WAS SAID WHEN SCHWEITZER SIGNED
“Schweitzer fits a theme this recruiting cycle, of wondering if his rankings would have risen in a normal year, one with camps and a season for him. Instead, he will turn down the possibility of a preps spring season to enroll early.

“Agile yet physical, Schweitzer appears to have the tools that usually warrant more than a three-star ranking, though he will need to add both weight and strength.”

2021 OUTLOOK
The next line in Polian’s comments on Schweitzer summed up what should be expected in 2021 …

“He is a guy that is gonna take some physical development, but his length, his twitch, his motor, we believe are going to lend himself to being a really good player.”

This will be a year of development for Schweitzer, at least some of it spent on the scout team. Even those reps will be valuable to Schweitzer given he did not have a senior season of football and his spring practice was halted by an injury akin to a patella issue, per head coach Brian Kelly.

DOWN THE ROAD
Defensive line coach Mike Elston insisted in February that Schweitzer would play Vyper, in part due to his length. It should also allow him some opportunities to showcase his coverage abilities, as well.

Freeman’s system relies on multiple-look fronts — camouflaging 3-linemen looks as 4 and vice versa. To do that, he needs either a blitzing-apt linebacker or a coverage-capable defensive end. The latter is the greater likelihood.

With that in mind, Schweitzer will have a chance to impress sooner than later. Current junior Isaiah Foskey may well have reason to head to the NFL after the 2021 season, and then only sophomore Jordan Botelho would be established at Vyper entering 2022.

Elston insists on rotating all his linemen, so someone will need to join Botelho.

NOTRE DAME 99-TO-0
Let’s try this again
No. 99 Rylie Mills, sophomore defensive tackle
No. 98 Alexander Ehrensberger, sophomore defensive end
No. 97 Gabriel Rubio, early-enrolled freshman defensive tackle the size of a Volkswagen
No. 95 Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, fifth-year defensive tackle-turned-end
No. 92 Aidan Keanaaina, sophomore defensive tackle
No. 88 Mitchell Evans, early-enrolled freshman tight end, a former high school quarterback
No. 87 Michael Mayer, star sophomore tight end and lead offensive weapon
No. 85 George Takacs, senior tight end, ‘152 years old’
No. 84 Kevin Bauman, sophomore tight end
No. 82 Xavier Watts, sophomore receiver
No. 81 Jay Brunelle, speedy sophomore receiver
No. 80 Cane Berrong, early-enrolled freshman tight end
No. 79 Tosh Baker, sophomore offensive tackle
No. 78 Pat Coogan, incoming freshman center
No. 77 Quinn Carroll, junior offensive lineman
No. 76 Joe Alt, incoming and towering freshman offensive lineman
No. 75 Josh Lugg, fifth-year right tackle, finally a starter
No. 73 Andrew Kristofic, junior offensive tackle, possible backup center
No. 72 Caleb Johnson, early-enrolled offensive tackle, former Auburn commit
No. 70 Hunter Spears, junior offensive guard, former defensive tackle
No. 68 Michael Carmody, sophomore offensive tackle
No. 62 Marshall guard Cain Madden transfers to Notre Dame, likely 2021 starter
No. 57 Jayson Ademilola, senior defensive tackle
No. 56 John Dirksen, senior reserve offensive lineman
No. 56 Howard Cross, junior defensive tackle
No. 55 Jarrett Patterson, the best Irish offensive lineman
No. 54 Jacob Lacey, junior defensive tackle
No. 54 Blake Fisher, early-enrolled freshman left tackle, starter?
No. 52 Zeke Correll, junior, starting center
No. 52 Bo Bauer, senior linebacker, #BeADog
No. 50 Rocco Spindler, early-enrolled freshman offensive guard

Reports: Speedy sophomore receiver Jay Brunelle to transfer from Notre Dame

Jay Brunelle
Notre Dame Athletics
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Notre Dame will have only one receiver remaining from the combined recruiting classes of 2019 and 2020 once sophomore Jay Brunelle enters the transfer portal, as multiple Wednesday reports have indicated is expected.

Irish Sports Daily first reported Brunelle’s intentions.

The sophomore did not appear in a game in 2020, not altogether a shock for any freshman, let alone a consensus three-star recruit joining Notre Dame in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic which limited practice continuity and development opportunities. Furthermore, Brunelle suffered a shoulder injury late in his senior season of high school (2019) that would have held him out of 2020’s spring practices upon his early enrollment, if there had been 2020 spring practices. A balky hamstring limited Brunelle this past spring, keeping him out of the Blue-Gold Game.

Brunelle joins classmate Jordan Johnson in transferring, leaving only Xavier Watts from their class.

RELATED READING: Notre Dame 99-to-0: No. 81 Jay Brunelle, sophomore speedy receiver

The previous recruiting cycle’s receiver haul consisted of Cam Hart — now a cornerback, possibly a starter — and arguably Kendall Abdur-Rahman, who also spent time at running back, but either way, also transferred this offseason.

The Irish are left with nine receivers, including two freshmen who have yet to get to campus.

Field receiver: Senior Braden Lenzy; sophomore Xavier Watts; freshman Jayden Thomas.
Boundary receiver: Senior Kevin Austin; senior Joe Wilkins; freshman Deion Colzie.
Slot receiver: Fifth-year Avery Davis; senior Lawrence Keys; freshman Lorenzo Styles.

That being a very rough depth chart, Notre Dame should be alright for the 2021 season despite Brunelle’s and Johnson’s transfers, but 2022 and 2023 concerns may begin to arise once the Lenzy-Austin-Wilkins-Keys class matriculates.

Of course, the fix to that may be the same as the cause. Transfers are now a constant part of college football, with all players allowed one transfer without having to sit the following season.

Brunelle chose the Irish over Michigan and UCLA.

Johnson ended up at Central Florida, and Abdur-Rahman landed at Western Kentucky.