Notre Dame adds former four-star Indiana signee, RB Gi’Bran Payne, to incoming freshman class

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When Notre Dame signed consensus four-star running back Jadarian Price in December, landing the No. 5 running back in the class made the Irish comfortable inking only one running back in the cycle. The previous coaching staff had briefly chased a second back, but landing only Price was hardly a worrisome cycle at the position.

Notre Dame has ended up with the best of both worlds by adding former Indiana signee and consensus four-star recruit Gi’Bran Payne (LaSalle High School; Cincinnati) to its class of 2022. Payne signed with the Hoosiers in December, but after running backs coach Deland McCullough left the Hoosiers for the Irish, Payne asked to be released from his National Letter of Intent. Indiana was under no distinct obligation to grant that request, but did so, anyway, at which point Payne reopened his recruitment in March.

The 5-foot-10, 195-pound ball carrier visited both Notre Dame and Kentucky in the last couple weeks, opting to follow McCullough to South Bend. The No. 21 running back in the class, per rivals.com, Payne will become the fifth running back in the room for the Irish, along with rising junior Chris Tyree, sophomores Logan Diggs and Audric Estime, and Price.

The No. 14 prospect in Ohio in the class, Payne runs through arm tackles with ease and typically gets through the line of scrimmage quickly. The broad Cincinnati area is far from lacking in football talent, but Payne still made a habit of running away from his competition throughout high school.

That all explains why he had held scholarship offers from Alabama, Florida, Penn State and Michigan before committing to Indiana in July of 2021.

Given Price was both a more highly-sought recruit and enrolled early, he should remain comfortably ahead of Payne on Notre Dame’s depth chart heading into the summer. At least one of them will assuredly be needed by the Irish in 2022, given not only the attrition natural to the position but also the likelihood that Notre Dame will need its running backs to help out as receivers this season, due to a dearth of depth at the latter position.

For context, Diggs took 52 rushes for 230 yards and three touchdowns in his debut campaign, while Estime added seven carries for 61 yards in minimal mop-up duty. Diggs was third on the Irish depth chart for most of the season but moved up to second when turf toe cost Tyree a few games and then again when Kyren Williams opted out of the Fiesta Bowl.

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