The open practice to kick off the preseason sessions revealed some interesting possibilities in defensive alignment. A projected depth chart a week ago, for example, would not have moved senior defensive end Andrew Trumbetti from the strongside (field) to the second-unit slot on the opposite end of the line behind sophomore Daelin Hayes. The potential move does make some sense, though. If senior Jay Hayes (no relation) can handle things on the strongside, then Trumbetti and the younger Hayes could theoretically rotate pass-rush attempts, keeping their legs fresh and opposing quarterbacks scrambling.
With that in mind, below you will find an attempt at a vague but practical defensive depth chart as it stands the first week of preseason preparations. Just like with the Irish offense earlier in the week, the qualifier practical is included because it will defer from any listed depth chart. Junior linebacker Te’von Coney may be the first substitute called upon behind both senior captains Nyles Morgan and Greer Martini, but it would be somewhat surprising to see him listed as such on a depth chart.
With 29 days to go before Notre Dame faces Temple, this look at the defense will likely change before Labor Day Weekend, but this should provide a point of reference as conversations unfold in the coming weeks.
Strongside Defensive End: Sr. Jay Hayes — So. Khalid Kareem or So. Ade Ogundeji. Exactly who backs up Hayes is now a question with Trumbetti’s considered move.
Defensive Tackle: Jr. Jerry Tillery — Jr. Brandon Tiassum — Fr. Kurt Hinish. Someone needs to fill out the depth chart here, and until junior Elijah Taylor is healthy (LisFranc fracture), it will be either a freshman or senior Pete Mokwuah.
Defensive Tackle: Sr. Jonathan Bonner — Jr. Micah Dew-Treadway — Fr. Myron Tagovaiola-Amosa. Again, the options are limited at defensive tackle, both in experience and in depth.
Weakside Defensive End: So. Daelin Hayes — Sr. Andrew Trumbetti — So. Julian Okwara. If anything is most-surprising about Trumbetti potentially flipping over to here, it is that it will most likely take away opportunities from Okwara, who has shown enough to warrant those chances.
Rover: Sr. Drue Tranquill — Jr. Asmar Bilal — So. D.J. Morgan. It is conceivable Morgan sees work at rover simply to have an option, if needed, before turning to freshman Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, thus preserving a year of eligibility for the player recruited largely for this role.
Middle Linebacker: Sr. Nyles Morgan — Jr. Te’von Coney — So. Jamir Jones. Coney may be more natural at the next position, but if Morgan were to suffer an injury, it would be Coney who first steps in.
Outside Linebacker: Sr. Greer Martini — Jr. Te’von Coney — So. Jonathan Jones.
Field Cornerback: So. Julian Love — Jr. Shaun Crawford — So. Troy Pride. The base Irish defense will not rely on a nickel back, but one will inevitably be needed frequently. That is the nature of football in 2017, after all. Crawford should essentially be a starter in that role.
Field Safety: Junior Nick Coleman — Fr. Isaiah Robertson
Boundary Safety: So. Jalen Elliott — So. Devin Studstill — Jr. Nicco Fertitta. At both field and boundary safety, the possible eligibility of sophomore Navy transfer Alohi Gilman would change this layout immediately. Gilman would fit into the two-deep at the least. He could start at boundary at the most.
Boundary Cornerback: Sr. Nick Watkins — So. Donte Vaughn.