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“Notre Dame 99-to-2 2019”
And so the annual summer countdown begins. With Jerry Tillery’s departure to the next level via the draft’s first round, today serves as the entry for No. 99. Sophomore defensive tackle Ja’Mion Franklin will get things rolling tomorrow at No. 98 … checks notes … Rather, junior defensive tackle Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa will begin things at No. 95; Franklin changed his number this spring to No. 55, but it went largely unnoticed as he spent the spring sidelined working his way back from a torn quad. At least as it pertains to that particular number at that exact position, it will be like Jonathan Bonner never left.
But 95-to-2 does not quite roll off the tongue as well, does it? So this introductory refresher can fill in as the No. 99 placeholder.
With that leniency in mind, why not rename the summer countdown to the obvious 99-to-1? Because there is little chance the Irish give out No. 1 any time in the near future. For one thing, the player most-recently associated with the digit, running back Greg Bryant, died tragically from wounds suffered in a Florida shooting in 2016, three years ago this Wednesday.
For another, Notre Dame enjoyed associating the No. 1 jersey with its status as the all-time winningest program in college football by win percentage. When the NCAA vacated 21 Irish wins from 2012 and 2013, Notre Dame fell down those rankings, now sitting at No. 3 behind both Michigan and Ohio State.
Michigan: 953-342-36; .72953 winning percentage.
Ohio State: 911-325-53; .72731 winning percentage.
Notre Dame: 897-324-42; .72684 winning percentage.
As much as the Irish have enjoyed quietly insisting those wins should not have been vacated — adding what seem like 10-15 pages to the media guides simply via repetitive footnotes — bringing back the No. 1 jersey with that claim may be a bit ostentatious.
A somewhat-reasonable scenario does exist this season to make up the official difference between Notre Dame and Michigan: If the Irish went 12-1 (the loss could be in the regular season, provided it be followed by a bowl victory) and the Wolverines stumbled to an 8-5 season, then the standings would be:
Notre Dame: .72884
In that scenario, as long as the Buckeyes went no better than 11-2, they would not top the hypothetical Irish percentage.
For now, however, the No. 1 jersey will presumably go unused in 2019.
As has been the case each of the last two summers, the series will proceed through Notre Dame’s entire scholarship roster, slotting in freshmen with unknown numbers as the roster allows, NCAA guidelines suggest and the stories make the most sense. In theory, this method adds more context: Following Franklin with early-enrolled freshman defensive tackle Jacob Lacey, and only three days after sophomore defensive tackle Jayson Ademilola, will make more sense than going alphabetically from sophomore running back C’Bo Flemister to Franklin to junior linebacker Jordan Genmark Heath.
Beginning tomorrow (Tuesday, May 7), there are exactly 86 days until July 31. The Irish will begin preseason practice just days later.
Currently, 86 scholarship players remain expected in the fall, with Notre Dame needing to have no more than 85 by Labor Day. Without going through the entire depth chart, a reminder of the current position breakdowns:
Running backs: 5
Tight ends: 4
Offensive linemen: 14
Defensive linemen: 18
Defensive backs: 14
INSIDE THE IRISH READING
— A look at Notre Dame’s possible 2020 draft class
— Where Notre Dame was & is: Defensive line
— Where Notre Dame was & is: Linebackers
— Where Notre Dame was & is: Cornerbacks
— Where Notre Dame was & is: Safeties
— Where will College GameDay visit each week of the 2019 season?
— 2019 post-spring college football top 25 ($)
— It’s a make-or-break year for Clay Helton as new-look USC aims to bounce back ($)
— The curious rise and spectacular crash of the Alliance of American Football
— Bears’ kicking competition begins with Cody Parkey’s double-doink squarely in focus
— Jaguars claim James Onwualu off waivers
— Reviewing the NFL draft’s best value picks
— 2019 Draft Scenes: Agony in Jersey, making [stuff] up in Arizona and high drama in the Raiders room
— The Kentucky Derby lasts two minutes. NBC’s coverage has to fill five hours