Notre Dame 99-to-0: No. 22 Logan Diggs, sophomore running back with a shoulder injury

Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Listed measurements: 6-foot, 206 pounds.
2022-23 year, eligibility: A sophomore, Diggs has three seasons of eligibility remaining.
Depth Chart: Diggs was set to exit the spring as Notre Dame’s No. 2 running back behind only junior Chris Tyree before a labrum injury suffered in the Blue-Gold Game put his September availability into doubt.
Recruiting: Diggs’ recruitment came down to a longtime Irish commitment and a late LSU push. From just outside of New Orleans, the Tigers’ late interest forced the No. 19 running back in the class to thoroughly consider them.

That winter of 2020-21 possibility led to vague speculation Diggs may follow Brian Kelly to Baton Rouge a year later, but he nipped that thought in the bud as quickly as he could.

CAREER TO DATE
Diggs grew into a needed backup role in his debut campaign, not playing in Notre Dame’s first five games — at least partly due to a COVID bout late in preseason practices — but then handling a significant workload in the final eight. When realizing he played in only eight games, his 52 carries and six catches stand out, an average of 7.25 touches per game for the freshman, highlighted by a 28-touch stretch across three games.

The Irish needed Diggs due to shallow depth in the running backs room, with C’Bo Flemister mired on the sideline for the season and Tyree struggling with a turf toe injury late in the year.

2021: 8 games; 52 carries for 230 yards and three touchdowns; six catches for 56 yards and one score.

He then took four carries for 10 yards and three catches for 20 yards in the 2021 Blue-Gold Game, a costly cameo as he tore his labrum in the exhibition.

NAME, IMAGE, LIKENESS

QUOTES
Diggs’ injury will be costly not only in that it robs the Irish of depth early in the season but also in that he was primed to be Notre Dame’s 1B running back, rather than truly a No. 2. That day may yet come down the line, but in the interim, it could also be argued the injury will help Diggs in some ways.

In his first season, he said his understanding of the game developed more than anything else. Being forced to watch from the sideline, now equipped with that bit more knowledge, could lead to further such growth.

“I would say my game grew the most in the understanding of football,” he said in December. “Being in the film room, understanding blocking schemes better, knowing what I have and the receivers have in their plays.”

WHAT WAS PROJECTED A YEAR AGO
“Opportunities will come in the long run. Williams will head to the NFL after this season, barring injury, and both Tyree and Flemister should be gone no later than the end of 2022.

“That will leave (Audric) Estime and Diggs in 2023, and a running back rotation is vital to health. They will be running behind the likes of left tackle Blake Fisher, by then perhaps a three-year starter, and Rocco Spindler, only not starting as a freshman this season because of an All-American transfer. Current junior center Zeke Correll could even still be around as a fifth-year center in his fourth season of starting.

“Whoever is lucky enough to carry the football for Notre Dame in 2023 should be doing so behind an offensive line to be thankful for.”

2022 OUTLOOK
Based on comments from Irish head coach Marcus Freeman in late June, do not expect Diggs to be cleared for contact when Notre Dame faces Ohio State in seven weeks. Yes, 49 days.

“We’re not going to rush that timetable to get back for the Ohio State game or anything else,” Freeman said to Irish Sports Daily.

But Diggs is expected back sometime in September. Logic and caution could conceivably push that back into October, simply given Notre Dame’s two games after opening against the Buckeyes should both be less competitive. If the Irish can then get by without Diggs at North Carolina on Sept. 24, he could have the idle week before taking the field against BYU.

If Notre Dame is not going to rush him back, not facing the Tar Heels to gain two more weeks before being tackled would fit the same thought process.

At that point, Diggs will be on the same trajectory as a year ago. He missed the first month, and then his role only grew with each passing week.

Tyree will remain the lead Irish ball carrier, but Diggs could help move Tyree to a hybrid gig supplementing the receivers. If complementary Diggs had 52 carries as a freshman, prominent Diggs could approach 90-100 carries as a key piece in nine games to end the season.

Simply for the sake of having this down as a projection, let’s predict Diggs will run for more than 400 yards in 2022 and tally more than 500 yards from scrimmage, a rather impressive stat line for someone with such an uncertain timetable for his return.

DOWN THE ROAD
Tyree could play his way into the NFL draft this season, but it is just as likely he returns to Notre Dame in 2023. At that point, the Irish will have a bounty of depth at running back. Diggs’ stats may thus not explode, but that will be a good thing for his long-term future.

Diggs’ debut season was impressive enough to force an acknowledgment that he may head to the NFL after 2023. Any contributing running back needs to consider that. A reduced workload will more likely give him comfort in returning for a senior season in 2024, and a showcase role could eventually be all his.

Running back depth should not be taken for granted. It was perilous before transfers were afforded immediate eligibility, not to mention injuries will always lessen a room’s possibilities during the season. (Or, for Notre Dame this year, the offseason.)

If the Irish enjoy five running backs in 2023, there is no certainty they will again in 2024, but for as long as they are able, that luxury should preserve these players, even at their statistical expense.

NOTRE DAME 99-TO-0
From Blake Grupe to Braden Lenzy, the offseason countdown begins anew
No. 99 Blake Grupe, kicker, Arkansas State transfer
No. 99 Rylie Mills, junior defensive lineman, a tackle now playing more at end

No. 98 Tyson Ford, early-enrolled freshman, a defensive tackle recruited as a four-star end
No. 97 Gabriel Rubio, sophomore defensive tackle, still ‘as wide as a Volkswagen’
No. 92 Aidan Keanaaina, a junior defensive tackle who tore his ACL in March
No. 91 Josh Bryan, sophomore kicker
No. 91 Aiden Gobaira, early-enrolled freshman defensive end, four-star recruit
No. 90 Alexander Ehrensberger, junior defensive end, a German project nearing completion
No. 88 Mitchell Evans, sophomore tight end
No. 87 Michael Mayer, junior tight end, likely All-American
No. 85 Holden Staes, incoming freshman tight end
No. 84 Kevin Bauman, junior tight end
No. 83 Jayden Thomas, sophomore receiver, former four-star recruit
No. 80 Cane Berrong, sophomore tight end coming off an ACL injury
No. 79 Tosh Baker, one of four young Irish offensive tackles
No. 78 Pat Coogan, sophomore center, recovering from a meniscus injury
No. 77 Ty Chan, incoming offensive tackle, former four-star recruit
No. 76 Joe Alt, sophomore starting left tackle
No. 75 Josh Lugg, sixth-year offensive lineman, likely starting right guard
No. 74 Billy Schrauth, early-enrolled freshman offensive guard coming off foot surgery
No. 73 Andrew Kristofic, senior offensive tackle-turned-guard
No. 72 Caleb Johnson, sophomore offensive tackle, former Auburn pledge
No. 68 Michael Carmody, junior offensive line utility man
No. 65 Michael Vinson, long snapper, ‘Milk’
No. 65 Chris Smith, defensive tackle, Harvard transfer
No. 59 Aamil Wagner, consensus four-star incoming freshman offensive tackle
No. 58 Ashton Craig, incoming freshman center
No. 57 Jayson Ademilola, fifth-year defensive tackle, coming off shoulder surgery
No. 56 Joey Tanona, early-enrolled offensive guard coming off a concussion
No. 56 Howard Cross, senior defensive tackle with heavy hands, and that’s a good thing
No. 55 Jarrett Patterson, fifth-year offensive lineman, three-year starting center, captain
No. 54 Jacob Lacey, senior defensive tackle, now lighter and a starter
No. 54 Blake Fisher, sophomore starting right tackle, ‘ginormous’
No. 52 Zeke Correll, senior center or perhaps left guard
No. 52 Bo Bauer, fifth-year linebacker, Ironman
No. 50 Rocco Spindler, sophomore offensive guard
No. 48 Will Schweitzer, sophomore end-turned-linebacker
No. 47 Jason Oyne, sophomore defensive end-turned-tackle
No. 44 Junior Tuihalamaka, early-enrolled freshman linebacker, consensus four-star recruit
No. 44 Alex Peitsch, junior long snapper
No. 42 Nolan Ziegler, early-enrolled freshman linebacker, Irish legacy
No. 41 Donovan Hinish, incoming freshman defensive tackle, Kurt’s brother
No. 40 Joshua Burnham, early-enrolled freshman linebacker-turned-end
No. 34 Osita Ekwonu, senior Vyper end coming off an Achilles injury
No. 31 NaNa Osafo-Mensah, senior defensive end
No. 29 Matt Salerno, fifth-year receiver, punt returner, former walk-on
No. 28 TaRiq Bracy, fifth-year starting nickel back
No. 27 JD Bertrand, senior linebacker recovering from a plaguing wrist injury
No. 25 Philip Riley, sophomore cornerback
No. 25 Chris Tyree, junior running back, possible Irish bellcow
No. 24 Jack Kiser, senior linebacker, second-year starter
No. 23 Jayden Bellamy, early-enrolled freshman cornerback
No. 22 Justin Walters, sophomore safety
No. 20 Jadarian Price, early-enrolled freshman running back with a ruptured Achilles
No. 9 Eli Raridon, incoming freshman tight end with a torn ACL

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