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Notre Dame Football

6 Notre Dame Players Who Need a Big Spring

March 14, 2023
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Drue Tranquill’s first three years were a bit of a nightmare at Notre Dame. Two ACL injuries took away his first two seasons. Finally healthy in year three, a bigger version of the player who signed with Notre Dame wasn’t a great fit at safety.

It would be easy to write off someone like him after all of that, but a new position in a new defense allowed him to shine. He stayed (mostly) healthy in his final two years and ended up playing high-level football on his way to being drafted in the fourth round of the NFL Draft.

Those great two years started with a strong spring ball after he moved to Rover. It set the tone for the player he would be and everyone knew that if he stayed on the field, he was going to be very good.

None of these six players have had the exact same bumpy start as Tranquill, but all of them have had ups and downs so far at Notre Dame. This spring is the time where they need to have an upward trajectory or risk getting passed over by others on the roster.

WR Deion Colzie

Colzie’s sophomore season didn’t go as well as anyone would have hoped. Injuries in the spring and in fall camp got things off to a slow start.

He didn’t have a catch until the Syracuse game and only had nine on the season, but he averaged over 20 yards per reception and added in a few clutch third down grabs. The arrow would appear to be pointing up for Colzie.

The problem is that there is new competition at the position. Kaleb Smith transferred in from Virginia Tech and he was their top boundary receiver. Jaden Greathouse is also now on campus as an early enrollee and he is maybe the most college-ready of the receivers they signed.

Colzie has to take a step forward because Greathouse will be nipping at his heels and Smith wants to take most of those snaps.

He went from afterthought last September to pleasant surprise to finish the year. He needs to establish himself as a key piece on offense with a big spring or risk being in danger of getting lost in the shuffle.

G Michael Carmody

When Blake Fisher went down with an injury early in the 2021 season, it was Carmody who was the next man in at tackle. He had earned that, but unfortunately his season was derailed because of a sprained ankle. While he was recovering, Joe Alt emerged as the next left tackle and we know how that turned out. Alt jumped the line and that was that.

Carmody should have been in a position to compete at guard in 2022, but his weight was a serious issue. At first seeing him listed at 280 pounds, it looked like a typo. It wasn’t. He clearly was not big enough to compete and the difference between him and even Andrew Kristofic was drastic when they stood side by side.

This is pretty much the last opportunity for him. If he isn’t 300 pounds, it’s unlikely he’ll ever be more than a backup and he’ll never get in the mix at guard.

C/G Pat Coogan

Coogan is a somewhat forgotten man in the offensive line competition and that doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll not be playing now or in the future, but his path is blocked at center by Zeke Correll at the moment.

It’s important for Coogan to cement himself as the next in line there or show he can also compete at guard because Notre Dame has Ashton Craig and Joe Otting as potential centers in the classes behind him.

Notre Dame’s offensive line room has a lot of young talent and many of them are going to be pushing to start in 2024. Coogan hasn’t played yet and if he wants to play in the future, the time to create some separation is now.

S Ramon Henderson

Progress isn’t always linear. There are peaks and valleys in most college football players careers. That’s the way it’s been for Ramon Henderson.

Out of necessity, Henderson was moved to safety when Kyle Hamilton went out in ‘21. Henderson made a splash in his first game against Virginia, which included a diving interception where he showed outstanding range coming across the field to make the play. One would think it would be all up from there, but it hasn’t been that simple.

He was solid at times in his first full year at the position, but at other times it was evident he was still new to the position.

He played his highest snap count all season in the bowl game and could be in line to play that large of a role this fall, but he has to show considerable growth in second year at safety.

Xavier Watts looks like he has already made that jump and DJ Brown plays at a consistent level for the defense. With Oklahoma State transfer Thomas Harper and freshmen Adon Shuler and Benjamin Minich already on campus learning the defense, there has to be a sense of urgency for Henderson this spring.

LBs Marist Liufau and Prince Kollie

These two are getting lumped together at Will linebacker for a couple of reasons.

The first is that both have a lot to prove.

Liufau has to prove he can be the guy who he was supposed to be before his broken ankle. Kollie has to prove he can be the guy who arrived with the hype of a high school Butkus Award winner and that he can play as an inside linebacker.

The second is that last year was the buffer. Players like Jaylen Sneed and Nolan Ziegler were freshmen. The linebackers the Irish just signed were in high school. Whether or not any of these players will be ready to shine this spring is unclear. It might be a matter of time before at least one of them is pushing Kollie and Liufua at Will linebacker and that’s not even taking into account Jack Kiser lurking as someone who could play Will as well.

As much as Notre Dame needs these two to have great springs to help boost the linebacker position as a whole, these two need to make some noise because they’ll both be competing for the same job and it might not be long before Al Golden and Max Bullough are giving others an extended look.

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