Notre Dame lost its sole running back recruit a week ago when four-star Florida back Sedrick Irvin Jr. de-committed. Less a sign of concern, it was a tea leaf for what would come Thursday evening when four-star running back Jayden Limar (Lake Stevens High School; Wash.) replaced Irvin in the Irish class.
Considered the No. 11 running back in the class of 2023, Irvin committed to Notre Dame in September. Limar comes in as the No. 12 back in the class and the No. 241 overall prospect. Suddenly the Irish appear to have their pick of notable running back recruits, a luxury few programs know.
Limar chose Notre Dame over finalists Arizona, Michigan and Oregon while also holding scholarship offers from USC, Washington and Texas A&M.
At 5-foot-11 and 181 pounds, Limar is far from a bruising back, but he is not easily tackled. His highlights do not include a bounty of broken tackles in traffic, but that is probably more a reflection of opposing talent in the state of Washington than of an inherent weakness.
Limar’s ability to turn his hips in traffic makes it difficult for a defender to get his arms around the ball carrier. Consider that a specific form of shiftiness.
He has good hands coming out of the backfield, frequently targeted on screens in his junior season. With that running start, he is able to showcase his moderate speed, noticeable but not necessarily blazing. Limar will not often be caught from behind, but if a defender has a decent angle on him, Limar will not outrun geometry.
That shiftiness and ability to provide a quarterback a safety valve made for a few Thursday comparisons to former Irish running back Kyren Williams. If nothing else, a sub-6-foot running back with a rapid stride certainly evokes those memories.
— Jayden Limar (@jayden_limar) May 27, 2022
Williams excelled for Notre Dame on third downs, able to run, catch or pass block. Limar said Irish running backs coach Deland McCullough already envisions such a role for him.
“He has his every-down back, third-down back and long-play back,” Limar said to Inside ND Sports. “He sees me being a good third-down back coming in. He wants me involved. They are not going to redshirt me. They want me to play as much as I am ready for my freshman season. He was adamant about getting me to play my freshman year.”
While those roles may be interchangeable, it would be logical to assume current junior Chris Tyree is the “long-play back” Limar mentioned. Sophomore Logan Diggs may be the every-down back, and if that version of “third-down back” is shorthand for third-and-short, that could be a reference to sophomore Audric Estime.
But among them, no one has yet presented as the triple-threat that Williams was.
Limar is the 13th commit in the Irish class, a class ranked as the best in the country by rivals.com. It is still too early in the cycle to consider that as notable praise, but with the 2022 season just three months away — and most recruiting slows during the high school season as players focus on the task immediately in front of them — that disclaimer will not be valid for much longer.