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Notre Dame Football

Game-Wreckers: Part 1

June 9, 2021

Kyren Williams. Chris Tyree. Kevin Austin. Braden Lenzy. Michael Mayer. Those are a handful of potential game-wreckers on offense for Notre Dame this season and there’s a number of others on defense joining Kyle Hamilton.

What’s a game-wrecker? It’s someone who can take over a game or ruin an opposition’s game plan.

Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah was a consistent game-wrecker on defense last season. Chase Claypool was a game-wrecker on offense in 2019. Jerry Tillery was a game-wrecker on the defensive line in 2018. Marist Liufau wrecked the game plan for North Carolina in that single game last season. Perhaps he can do that more frequently this season.

The Irish played the ultimate game-wrecker in the College Football Playoff when they faced DeVonta Smith. It doesn’t look like they have anyone on the schedule this fall who can disrupt the game like he could, but there are some potential game-wreckers featured on their schedule

Florida State RB Lawrance Toafili

This might feel like a bit of a stretch to list a back who ran for exactly one yard against the Irish last season, but the true freshman flashed big time ability as a runner and receiver in other matchups. 10 of his 37 carries went for 10 or more yards and he demonstrated some explosiveness as a receiver as well.

It says a lot that the guy with the best shot at being a game-wrecker for the Seminoles is someone who didn’t produce very much last season. They’ll need Toafili to emerge as a weapon in their offense to compliment whoever wins the quarterback competition.


Purdue WR David Bell

Bell came out the gate as a dangerous player with over 1,000 yards receiving as a freshman in 2019. He has a combined 16 touchdowns in his two years and might be the toughest red zone matchup the Irish face this fall.

That’s because he’s so good at winning 50/50 balls. He caught 10 of 18 contested catches and his seven touchdowns on contested targets the last two years are the most out of any player returning in college football. He played a shorter Big 10 schedule last year as well or the numbers would be even more impressive.


Purdue might have some trouble matching up with Notre Dame’s overall talent, but Bell is someone who can be a factor against anyone on Purdue’s schedule.

Purdue edge George Karlaftis

He was banged up in 2020, but 18 QB hits, 17 tackles for loss, and 21 total Havoc plays as a true freshman is something that would make anyone take notice.

He had 2 sacks and four QB hits in only three games last year. Chances are he’ll be closer to the player he was as a freshman and that means Notre Dame is going to have to pay a little bit of extra attention to him on every snap.

His twitch and his motor makes him someone who rarely stays blocked.


Cincinnati edge Myjai Sanders

44 pressures is proof that he was one of the most disruptive edge players in college football. His five pass breakups show that his length can disrupt passing windows as well.

He’s so quick off the ball and is often doing his best to cheat to get that extra edge against an offensive tackle. That’s not just him against the pass either. He’s doing that on 1st down and trying to make life difficult against the run too.

He’s very likely on his way to being a high pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.


Virginia Tech TE James Mitchell

The Hokies have a strong starting receiver group coming back in ‘21. Mitchell could be a Macke Award candidate as one of the top tight ends in the country, though. He turned some heads last season.

He averaged 16.7 yards per reception, a pretty atypical number for a tight end. That was largely because he had five catches of 30-yards or more. To put that into perspective, eventual top-five pick Kyle Pitts had six.

Pitts was the only other TE with more yards after the catch and it was Mitchell who led the country in YAC per reception at the position. If they get more consistency from the quarterback position, then Mitchell is going to see the ball a lot more and be a player that Notre Dame is going to have to worry about.


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