As the Notre Dame Fighting Irish rapidly approach their April 21 spring game, teams across the country are sorting out their depth charts, and the conclusion of spring football is sure to create a new batch of graduate transfers.
Players who wanted to use the spring to take one last chance to earn playing time at their current institution will realize that their best chance of playing will come elsewhere. Others needed to stick it out through the spring to graduate and be able to transfer without penalty.
Notre Dame has the potential to benefit from a new crop of graduate transfers and it could particularly benefit from adding depth and experience to these three positions.
Why Notre Dame could benefit from graduate transfers at RB
Running back is a well-documented issue for the Irish. They’ve got three true scholarship running backs on the roster after Josh Adams declared for the NFL draft and the team dismissed Deon McIntosh and C.J. Holmes.
The Irish listed Jafar Armstrong as a wide receiver and a running back this spring to pad depth and converted a pair of walk-ons to running back. They’ll also add C’Bo Flemister when the freshman enrolls in the summer.
However, with a total of 143 rushing attempts returning to the lineup in 2018, there’s no question that Notre Dame could benefit from a graduate transfer. We took a detailed look at their options earlier this offseason, but some new names should begin popping up in the next few weeks, too.
Why Notre Dame could benefit from graduate transfers at WR
It’s a far-less desperate situation than running back, namely because three 4-star freshmen will arrive in the summer. However, Equanimeous St. Brown’s departure for the NFL creates a similar problem to Adams’ departure.
Notre Dame doesn’t have a lot of proven production at the position. Chase Claypool, Miles Boykin and Chris Finke combine to return 68 career catches in 2018, and Claypool — who is still recovering from offseason surgery — is responsible for half of them.
The Irish aren’t in a position where they would need to take a graduate transfer at wide receiver simply to throw bodies at the problem, but if the right graduate transfers became available (one who could challenge for serious playing time), they’d have to give it strong consideration.
Why Notre Dame could benefit from graduate transfer at TE
This boils down to redshirt junior Alize Mack. From a depth perspective, the Irish have to feel good about where they’re at with their tight ends room.
Outside of Mack, the Irish also return Nic Weishar, Cole Kmet and Brock Wright (though Weishar and Wright are injured this spring), all of whom are former 4-stars. They’ve also got 4-star George Takacs on campus early from the Class of 2018 and will add another from that class when Tommy Tremble arrives in the summer.
However, while coaches have raved about Kmet’s potential to break out in 2018 and Weishar provides a reliable No. 2 tight end, Mack is the true game-changer at this position. The only problem is, Mack still has a way to go to earn back the coaching staff’s trust.
Mack sat out the 2016 season because he was academically ineligible, then was suspended from the Citrus Bowl in 2017 for an “internal matter,” according to a report from Mike Vorel of the South Bend Tribune. Mack is back this spring and has been solid, but the Irish can’t be sure when the next issue might jump up.
If Mack slips up and has to be punished this spring or summer, it might spell the end of his time at Notre Dame.
At that point, graduate transfers might be Notre Dame’s best option to protect itself.