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Notre Dame Football

10 Players to Watch at Notre Dame's Fall Camp

July 30, 2021

Fall camp is highly anticipated every year, but this year even more so than others. That’s because we haven’t seen Notre Dame practice as a team since 2019 and that means we know less about the depth on this team than in any normal year.

Listing 10 players I’m the most interested to watch in camp feels like a fraction of the number I could write about. I could have easily doubled it and still had a few more that could be honorable mentions. The list starts with an important transfer who might be a key player on the offensive line this fall. I don’t think we’ll have to wait very long to find out if he will.

Guard Cain Madden

The expectation is that Madden will start at one of the guard spots for the Irish this season after being named to some All-American teams last season at Marshall. It is not a given, though. He’ll have to come in and earn his spot first.

I think we’ll find out very quickly if he’s going to be the guy who is considered one of the top returning interior linemen in college football or if he’s going to be in a battle to win the job. He’ll be tested right away by Notre Dame’s deep group at defensive tackle.

If he proves he is at a higher level, it’s the kind of development that changes the ceiling of the offensive line as a whole.

Wide receiver Kevin Austin

This one is obvious, but outside of the Louisville game last season, we haven’t seen Austin on the field since watching practices two years ago.

Is it too much to ask for him to be the clear top receiver or should everyone lower their expectations while he comes back from his foot injury? Notre Dame fans hope it’s the former and he’ll take hold of the boundary wide receiver spot.

Cornerback Ramon Henderson

Signing in the 2020 class, I’d put Henderson as the most intriguing corner Notre Dame had signed since Troy Pride because of his combination of size and speed. I knew he was going to take some time to develop after playing more at receiver in high school.

His time may be this season. He’s in the mix at corner and is absolutely a candidate to have a breakout season. We’ll see if he can have a strong camp and push Cam Hart to start.

Vyper Isaiah Foskey

I know I wasn’t the only one who took notice of what Marcus Freeman had to say about Foskey after praising some other veterans on the defensive line. At the very least it was obvious that Freeman and Mike Elston are going to challenge Foskey to take it up a notch to become the player he is supposed to be.

I want to see Foskey match the level that I know I’ll see from Kurt Hinish and Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa. The sky's the limit for him if that is how he approaches this camp.

Running back Audric Estime

He’s already been igniting eyeball emojis with the pictures we’ve seen this summer. He looks like he is entering his senior year of college and not just finished his senior year of high school. I want to see how close he is to actually pushing for carries as a freshman.

Guard Rocco Spindler

While I’m certainly interested in seeing Blake Fisher, Spindler is more intriguing because he should be in a battle at guard and the level of competition he’ll face at defensive tackle is going to be substantial.

It’s an accomplishment for him to even be in the mix and if he is running with the ones at guard this August, that says even more about him than it does the players who are also in contention to start.

Linebacker Shayne Simon

I was heartened to see Simon make some plays in the Blue-Gold game. He was more of a stop-gap at weakside linebacker last season and the comments about him in the spring suggest he might be more than that this season.

Everyone is handing the Will linebacker spot to Marist Liufau and I want to see if Simon can make it a competition. I don’t know if there was anyone who covered Notre Dame football who projected Asmar Bilal to have a breakout final season and Simon kind of fits the same profile as Bilal. He’s always been a good athlete and hasn’t played as fast and decisive as I would like to see.

He looked a bit different in the Blue-Gold game and perhaps he’s turned a corner.

Defensive back KJ Wallace

Whether it’s safety or nickel back, Wallace is going to be a depth piece at the very least for this Irish defense. He might very well be more than that. Wallace was a player I was very high on coming into Notre Dame because of his versatility. That may be what wins him the nickel job this season.

Wide receiver Braden Lenzy

Seeing him healthy is what I hope to see more than anything, but I really would like to see how he has developed his complete game as well. That was what was missing for him back when he was the big play/gadget guy for Notre Dame’s 2019 offense.

We were supposed to see if he had taken the next step in 2020, but his hamstring injury didn’t allow that to happen.

Quarterback Tyler Buchner

It would be ridiculous to not include him. He made three highlight level throws in the spring that I haven’t seen from any Notre Dame quarterback. That would be enough to make this list.

The hype around him has been significant. Will he live up to it? That’s probably more of a long term question than one for Buchner’s first fall camp, but it will surely get Irish fans excited if he can consistently make the routine throws in addition to the spectacular ones.

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