The Franchise Top 25 College Football Countdown brought to you by O’Connell’s starts with a College Football Blueblood: Notre Dame
No. 25 –The Notre Dame Fighting Irish return after a 4-8 record last season under head coach Brian Kelly. Looking back at the 2016 season, the Irish were coming off a 10-2 record from 2015 and lost their season opener to Texas 50-47 in OT. A heartbreaking start led to seven more losses during the season where six of the seven were within 7 points. Kelly accepted 23 commitments from the 2016 recruiting cycle including Daelin Hayes and Tommy Kraemer; both 5-star recruits.
Some key players to look for this year to make a notable impression for the Fighting Irish include Kareem Khalid, Brock Wright, Donte Vaughn and Daelin Hayes. If the Irish want to make a remarkable rebound from last year’s season, they’ll need a lot of players to step up and become breakout stars.
At 6’4/267lbs, Khalid generated minimal hype during his first year at Notre Dame, but is expected to make a prominent impact as a defensive lineman during the 2017 season. He is on the list of players to watch for his potential to move the Irish forward on the defensive end.
Brock Wright is expected to create a threat for opposing defenses with his agility and strength to be a well-rounded tight end and serve as a more complete player for Notre Dame. Both Wright and Cole Kmet formed the most talented duo in any 2017 recruiting class, and Wright will be the one to watch if a freshman tight end makes it onto the field in 2017.
Donte Vaughn can’t be overlooked after his impressive interception during the Notre Dame vs. Duke game, only his second game played. The Fighting Irish lost 38-35 to the Blue Devils last year, but Vaughn’s speed and athleticism is expected to turn heads during Fall camp. Vaughn sits behind Nick Watkins, but could be called upon at any moment and is expected to be able to step up.
Daelin Hayes is expected to become a major breakout star for the Irish in 2017. Hayes saw the field plenty of times his freshman year and is entering the 2017 season fully healthy. Notre Dame wishes to start a defensive lineman with the capability of being an every down player, and Hayes has proved to be dynamic against Notre Dame’s linemen in practices. If he’s able to stay healthy, the Irish should expect big things from this 6’3/255 defensive lineman.
Here are some highlight games for the upcoming Notre Dame season:
- Notre Dame vs. Georgia –Sept. 9 in South Bend, IN.
- Notre Dame vs. USC –Oct. 21 in South Bend, IN.
- Notre Dame vs. Stanford –Nov. 25 in Los Angeles, CA.
Here’s a MMM segment with Mike Vorel from the South Bend Tribune about Notre Dame: