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Notre Dame Football

Intriguing Notre Dame Names Heading Into August

July 23, 2022

Notre Dame will start fall camp on August 5th and there are several names to monitor with none being bigger than sophomore quarterback Tyler Buchner. 

Yet, if you’re reading this, you know why all eyes will be on Buchner and Drew Pyne. 

Who are some other names to watch? We have you covered. 

Ramon Henderson - Safety - 6’1 - 190 - Junior 
The California native has always been a name of intrigue as Henderson is a big athlete who can run, but he was at cornerback until the Virginia game last fall. It was a quick adjustment and he ended up starting the rest of the year from there. 

Henderson might not have the experience of DJ Brown or Houston Griffith, but he’s an athlete that can get to places on the field that few on the roster can. It’s not so much a knock on the veterans as it speaks more to Henderson's ability to play in space and simply run. 

In the Virginia game, Henderson recorded the first interception of his career and it was all due to him. It started with Henderson giving a great pre-snap look as he showed a two-high look on the advice of Brown. The former four-star prospect executed his assignment by taking away the post, but then read the quarterback's eyes and took off to the opposite sideline to pick the pass off. 

The ability to start on the left hash and end up on the numbers on the other side of the field is exactly what every program covets and Henderson did it was ease. 

Henderson’s next step will be finding consistency in the little details. PFF gave Henderson a grade of 79.6 in the Virginia game, but then he scored grades of 67.0, 64.5 and 63.6 the final three games of the year. Far from terrible grades. It shows there is plenty of room to grow, which is exciting as he’s played just four games at safety. 

Xavier Watts - Safety - 5’11 - 195 - Junior
A year ago at this time, Watts was fighting for time at receiver before making a move to defense in September. The move was originally to play rover, which made sense and didn’t make sense. It’s a position that doesn’t exactly have a set body type, but also one where it’d be a tough transition for a player who had played receiver. 

Watts eventually made the move to safety and stayed patient. The Navy game was the first time Watts earned significant stats as he made three tackles in 15 plays. In the regular season finale, the Nebraska native recorded 28 snaps and made three tackles. 

Fast forward to the present and much like Henderson, Watts gives Notre Dame athleticism and a bit more speed in the secondary. The physicality Watts plays with is often forgotten, but make no mistake, he’ll arrive at the ball with bad intentions. 

How much growth can Watts make? We’ll see, but it’s hard to see him not carving out a role at some point this year. He’ll need to stay patient and continue growing into the position, but there is a lot to work with in Watts. 

TE Cane Berrong - Tight End - 6’3 - 235 - Sophomore 
The Georgia native is coming off a non-contact ACL injury, but by all accounts, Berrong is back and doing well in this summer's 7-on-7 workouts. Berrong quietly worked his way on the field last year as he started getting time on special teams as a reward for his improved blocking, but then got into the rotation at tight end at Virginia Tech. 

Berrong will have a chance to make an impression with classmate Mitchell Evans out with a foot injury as he’ll compete with Kevin Bauman, Eli Raridon and Holden Staes for reps behind All-American Michael Mayer.

What does Berrong do well? He has deceptive speed and can add a dimension to the Irish offense as a receiving threat. Tommy Rees has found creative ways to create favorable matchups for tight ends in the past and Berrong could be a chess piece this fall. Berrong can get into the seam, but he’s fast enough to get loose on the wheel route and the flag route. 

If he can pick up where he left off blocking, Berrong could find himself in the mix for playing time because of his unique skill set. 

RB Audric Estime - Running Back - 5’11 - 228 - Sophomore 
It might be cheating to put Estime on this list, but the New Jersey native has 18 snaps to his name and at the end of the day there might be more questions than answers heading into fall camp. What we know is that Estime physically imposing and showed the willingness to run with physicality in the spring, which might have been there all the time a year ago. 

Can Deland McCullough convince Estime to run people over instead of trying to get to the outside or using his athleticism to get around them? If he can, Estime is the classic running back that can wear a defense out and as they say, those four-yard runs turn into 12-yard runs in the fourth quarter. 

The other piece is where Estime’s pass pro is at. He wasn’t asked to do much of it a year ago and knowing where to be is a significant part of protecting the quarterback. Notre Dame’s running backs under Lance Taylor embraced keeping the quarterback safe as Tony Jones Jr. and Kyren Williams weren’t afraid to do the dirty work. 

Overall, Estime is a perfect match to Chris Tyree as it’s a true thunder and lightning combo. When classmate Logan Diggs returns, Notre Dame could have a nice trio of backs with completely different games to go along with Buchner’s electric running ability. 

And don’t forget this tweet Estime sent off just minutes after Notre Dame’s loss in the Fiesta Bowl. 

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