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Notre Dame Football

Stock on the Rise

August 19, 2018

Fall camp is over. All of the focus for Notre Dame will shift to Michigan and preparing for them.

But even though the Irish didn’t work on much that was Michigan specific in the last few weeks, they are more ready to play the Wolverines than they were before August. A big reason why is that they have more clarity about their roster. Several players have seen their stock rise within the program after camp.

Some were already established and are taking a step to greatness. Some were simply proving that they deserve to have a role this year. Each one of them can help Notre Dame win football games.

Like every team in August, the Irish got better. These individuals were a catalyst for that.

DE Khalid Kareem

Kareem went from competing with Jay Hayes at the beginning of the spring to looking like the best defensive lineman on the roster in camp. To be fair, he looked great in the spring too. It would have been a matter of time before he took Hayes’ starting spot.

He was constantly in the backfield whenever we watched practice. Him and Jerry Tillery were the only players who produced multiple sacks in team periods. I think he is going to make a lot of plays this season and would be my pick to lead the team in tackles for loss.

WR Kevin Austin

Austin came into the summer with high expectations due to his status as touted recruit. He lived up to the hype that preceded him.

He may need to get the playbook down all the way, but he showed enough that he is going to have a role this season. Throw him into the mix as another big red zone target. No first year player looks more poised to make an instant impact than Austin. 

Rover Asmar Bilal

Rover was supposed to be one of the most hotly contested position battles in camp. Bilal threw some water on that by separating himself from Shayne Simon and having another contender, Isaiah Robertson, eventually move to offense.

No Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah for much of camp due to a hamstring injury was part of it too, but even if JOK was healthy, it may not have made a difference.

That’s because Bilal looked better than ever. He’s always had the physical tools and now he is playing more confident than ever. The hesitation with his game seems to have faded. Bilal is more decisive and he looks like this may be the year where he plays more than a small part on defense.

Safety Alohi Gilman

Maybe the stock is more steady than rising, but rising feels more appropriate to me because safety was very much undecided heading into camp and the one constant has been Gilman. His physicality and instincts have allowed him to emerge as a favorite to start heading into the summer and then pretty much secured him that spot for Michigan.

Gilman looks like he can be an impact player in the secondary. That’s something the Irish have been missing at safety for quite some time.

Safety Nick Coleman

A forgotten man after a lacklustre spring, Coleman put his head down and worked to go from rotating with the twos to running beside Gilman with the ones at safety. He did it by simply making more plays than everyone else. He got his hands on the football frequently.

Freshman Houston Griffith was dealing with an injury that took him out of the competition for most of camp so that gave Coleman a perfect opportunity to get back to starter status. He took advantage of it.

CB Troy Pride

Every day it was the same with Pride. He was dominant for almost every practice we watched and had clearly made improvements to his game. He’s always been fast, but his strength and the way he uses that strength to win at the catch point appears to be on an elite level.

Having him emerge across from last year’s breakout star Julian Love gives the Irish a pair of corners that almost every program in the country would be envious of.

RBs Avery Davis/Jafar Armstrong

These two get paired together because they are probably more hybrids than traditional running backs and both had to prove themselves after a position move in the spring. There is no debating that they will be involved in the offense at this point and it looks like they could each have bigger roles than anticipated after strong showings in camp.

Armstrong received a ton of praise from Brian Kelly comparing him to Theo Riddick and we saw what Riddick did when moving back to running back in 2012. Expect him to be used as receiver out of the backfield often.

Davis showed toughness and grit as a runner and receiver. He opens up the offense to be more versatile with him moving around the formation frequently. It’s going to be fun to watch how Chip Long chooses to utilize Davis’ skills this season.

CB Donte Vaughn

He wasn’t talked about enough in the last couple of weeks. Vaughn had a really good camp and locked himself in above the freshman who came in looking to steal away his reps. He has always been big and started to play bigger and more physical. That’s partly because he is fully healthy and it could also be because he was challenged by the newcomers trying to take his spot.

Nick Watkins was loss at corner for the Irish, but it looks like it might not be as big as some thought if Vaughn continues his upward trend on the field.

OT Jarrett Patterson

I’ve mentioned that is was tough to get a gauge on where everything stood with the offensive line, but I know that Patterson was clearly in the two-deep at offensive tackle. Throw that in with Kelly comparing him to Robert Hainsey and all of a sudden it looks like one freshman on the O-line could end up playing this season.

Physically he has some work to do to catch up with the players he is competing with, but he looks like a second or third year player rather than someone who just arrived at school in June.

OG Josh Lugg

With an injury to Hainsey in camp, we had a chance to see a scenario of who the next man up would be if one were to go down. At first it looked like Trevor Ruhland would be that player, but it seems that Lugg jumped over him towards the end of camp. If there is movement or an injury on the line, Lugg is going to be the one who steps in at guard.

It sounds like Hainsey will be back soon and the intended starting five will be in place for Michigan, but camp at least gave Jeff Quinn a good look at some other alternatives. It looks like Lugg rose above the rest to be the next choice if there is an injury up front.

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