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Notre Dame Football

5 Players Who Need to Have a Great Spring

March 8, 2022
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 As a whole, spring ball is the time of year where technique is refined, systems are implemented, and identities are often established as a team. All of that matters a lot, but individual player development is just as significant. 

For some players, their development in particular spring means even more. There are a few who need to bounce back or step forward. It might be because they don’t have much time left or could be because they’re in danger or losing their spot. Whatever the case may be, there are certain individuals who need to show something this spring to set themselves up for success this season.

The narrative with most of these guys isn’t overly optimistic. That’s why they stand out as needing to shine over the next couple of months in order to reset expectations for what they can accomplish at Notre Dame. 

CB Clarence Lewis

For Lewis, this spring isn’t just about finding the right fit (moving back to the field from the boundary?). it’s probably more about finding his confidence after a season where he gave up too many big plays.

Mike Mickens talked about getting back at it and moving on to the next play after giving up a big play and Lewis has to essentially throw away what happened last season. He needs to have that same level of confidence he displayed as a freshman where he showed a knack for finding the football.

This spring is the first step to rebuilding that.

C Zeke Correll

Not having Jarrett Patterson for the second spring in a row isn’t ideal, but it couldn’t be a better opportunity for Correll. He’ll get a chance to prove to Harry Hiestand he can handle the position if Patterson is out longer than expected and when Patterson is gone after the season.

The other side of the coin is that this puts pressure on Correll, who is entering his fourth year with the program, to step up immediately. Patterson had already started two seasons at center at this same stage of his college career and Correll hasn’t shown he can be a full-time starter at center yet. If he doesn’t have the kind of spring that Notre Dame wants him to, it opens the door for someone like Pat Coogan to possibly jump him on the depth chart, if not this year, then the next.

In many ways it will be a golden opportunity, but could also be now or never for Correll.

DT Jacob Lacey

Lacey had all of the makings of a star early in his career with a strong spring as an early enrollee leading into him being number two on the depth chart behind Kurt Hinish at nose tackle as a freshman. The arrow was pointing way up for him and it appeared like he may even leap over Hinish to become a starter at some point.

Injuries stunted his production and development, but he’s finally healthy and now it could be his time to shine. The question for him will be whether or not he moves back to nose after working there and 3-technique tackle last fall. If he does move there full-time, a starting job lined up beside Jayson Ademilola is open and it could allow Howard Cross to make the move back to 3-tech.

It seemed impossible that Lacey wouldn’t be a multi-year starter at Notre Dame based on what we saw from him a few years ago. It’s still on the table for him and it can start with a strong spring.

WR Deion Colzie

It feels a bit unfair to list Colzie here with him only having one year in the program. But it’s also a reality that he plays a position where another talented player could be coming to take his spot if he’s not ready.

Notre Dame might need Colzie to have a great spring ball just as much as he needs to have one, but the reason why he’s listed here has to do with a player who is arriving in June. Tobias Merriweather will be on campus then and it might not be long before he starts making an impact.

Colzie could help himself a lot by establishing that the starting boundary position belongs to him before Merriweather gets a chance to put on pads at Notre Dame.

In no way should Colzie be written off if he doesn’t have a spring that puts him in position to start for the Irish. At the same time it has to be noted that things are going to pick up at receiver when Merriweather arrives and them having similar skill sets will likely put them in direct competition with one another.

QB Drew Pyne

All eyes will be on Tyler Buchner at quarterback as just about everyone projects him to be the present and future at quarterback for the Irish, but one player has a chance to flip that this spring.

The only way for that to happen is for Drew Pyne to show he is at another level. He needs to have a fantastic spring if he wants to have a shot at being QB1 this fall.

Maybe that might not earn him the starting job, but he’s not getting close to it if he’s just okay over these next few months. Pyne is a fierce competitor and while he is absolutely a team-first player, he’s not going to lie down and settle in as the backup. If he wants to take the job away from Buchner, it all starts with being better than him this spring.

 
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