Jadarian Price’s freshman weight gain makes him Notre Dame’s ideal fourth quality RB

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Gaining the “Freshman 15” would not be ideal for any football player. That type of weight gain is implicitly bad, stemming from poor eating habits once reined in by mom’s watchful eye. For Notre Dame early-enrolled freshman running back Jadarian Price, though, it may have been his mom who helped him put on weight, the weight he needs.

The Irish spring roster lists Price at 5-foot-10 and 190 pounds. New Notre Dame running backs coach Deland McCullough deemed that not enough, especially not when rising junior running back Chris Tyree is already the relatively lighter, speed option in the Irish backfield at 5-foot-9 ½ and 190 pounds.

“I always remind [Price] every couple of times we go out there that this is major college football,” McCullough said Tuesday. “He ain’t in high school anymore, and this is for real.

“He came back after spring break, he had gained weight.”

McCullough said Price is now up to 195 pounds thanks to that trip back to Texas. Of course, that trip also gave Price a reprieve from northern Indiana weather — “Coming in right in the middle of the dead of winter, that was a challenge.” — one of the many and expected things a high school senior has to adjust to when jumping into college halfway through the academic year.

Eating is usually among those adjustments, perhaps an easier change for football players than other students due to the oversight of a strength and conditioning staff, but also arguably a tougher one because sometimes the demands cannot keep up with a teenager’s metabolism.

“Adjusting to the schedule has been a challenge,” Price said. “But I’m picking up on a routine and just knowing when to eat, how to eat good and things like that.”

If Price continues putting on the right type of the “freshman 15,” he may fit McCullough’s preference of “a 200-pound guy who has a little bit of everything” before long. Of McCullough’s ideal backfield, that was the one piece missing entering these spring practices, even if Notre Dame has only four running backs on the roster after the departure of C’Bo Flemister.

Rising sophomore Audric Estime readily fits the description of “a big guy,” and classmate Logan Diggs is not far from McCullough’s “traditional size” of 210-215 pounds, listed this spring at 206. Along with proven threat in all regards Tyree, the Irish may have not only a deep backfield, but also a complete one, not to mention a competitive one.

“Guys aren’t blind,” McCullough said. “They can see what’s going on out there. They can see a guy made a play and the competitiveness continues to want them to make a play, too. … I feel really good about what everybody is doing right now.”

Not to dismiss that as springtime coach-speak, but that should always be factored in. What has stood out, however, has been both McCullough and offensive coordinator Tommy Rees so quickly touting Price.

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They know they need him. A running backs room might survive a season with only three viable options, but that would need absolute health and a decent amount of good fortune, a fact underscored by Tyree already suffering a mild ankle injury this spring. Adding Price should better Tyree’s effectiveness in 2022.

So add Tyree to the list of people already praising Price even though he should still be finishing up his last semester of high school.

“He’s done a really good job of picking it up so fast,” Tyree said. “He just got here a couple of months ago and he’s already getting reps with the ones and playing really fast. It just came down to him being competitive.”

Well, being competitive and adding some weight.

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