February 10, 2014 // Notre Dame Football

Duranko’s Digest: 10 frosh likely to play for Notre Dame in 2014

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Nyles Morgan - Notre Dame ILB

Nyles Morgan could find his way into the starting lineup for Notre Dame in 2014. (Photo: John Albright / IconSMI)

Brian Kelly plays freshmen. Last year 10 frosh saw significant minutes and some were key contributors-on both sides of the ball. the 10 were Elmer, Folston, Fuller, Robinson, Onwualu, Rochell, Redfield, Luke, Butler.and some guy named Jaylon Smith.

Here are ten frosh likely to play in 2014:

Tyler Newsome – Okay, so punting doesn’t excite you.  But letting Newsome punt as a frosh would free up the undervalued but lion-hearted Kyle Brindza to focus on kickoffs and placekicking. Different muscle groups, skills, rhythms and techniques are used for punting and placekicking, and reducing and focusing Brindza’s role could strengthen both areas. Special teams, special teams.

Nyles Morgan – Freshman most likely to start with the relative vacuum at ILB. He is a June arrival and may need September to acclimate to college football but young Mr. Morgan has the size, speed and tackling ability to start at the key ILB position. We offer no comparison between Morgan and Smith. That is grossly unfair to both players. Let’s let Morgan be Morgan.

Nick Watkins – An accomplished high school cornerback who comes in with acclaim and rating similar to or slightly better than those of Cole Luke. The cornerback depth chart is strong but not particularly deep, and Watkins might not just play, but could nose out Kinlaw for the fourth cornerback position. Luke and Butler acquitted themselves well in 2013. Watking shouLd be able to have similar productivity. Nick played cornerback in high school like Butler and Luke and different from Russell and Bennett Jackson who had to learn the position anew.

Andrew Trumbetti – Jumpstarted his career as an early entry, gets a Longo winter and coaching in the spring, Plenty of opportunity on the DL and he should easily make the three deep. We have yet to see his true measurements, but looked strong and fit in winning his competition at the Under-Armour game. Plays with the requisite darkness in his heart.

Peter Mokwuah – Three star or not, he has the size to eat space and opposing ball-carriers on the DL. On a deeper depth chart he would redshirt, but Elston will need to get some of his frosh ready, both to fortify the ramparts in 2014 and to split up the class so they all don’t leave together. Mokwuah is listed at 6’5″ 305 pounds. Judging from his pictures of him standing next to Courtney Garnett it has been a fortnight or two since Mokwuah has seen 305. Needs much work in the weight room, but could penetrate the third string DL.

Jonathan Bonner – Recruited as an OLB/DL swing player, he dazzled the staff with his performance at Notre Dame’s Summer Camp, including some impressive performances against some name OL studs. The coaching staff jumped to offer him and Bonner jumped to commit. Bonner could be this year’s Danny Spond, a football player, a gamer, who flew under the radar of the recruiting services. Already 6’3″ 260 he should be able to deliver what new-to-the position Troy Niklas did in 2011 and what Chase Hounshell did in 2011 at DL.

(Note: if these three play, that would leave Blankenship, Hayes, Jhonathan Williams and Cage to redshirt and have their eligibility expire after the 2018 season.)

Quenton Nelson – A June arrival, he will arrive with the size and nastiness that is useful on the OL. Sure, Bivin, McGovern and Montelus will try to keep him buried, but Nelson may be useful in a Joshua Garnett (Stanford) type role on the goal line and short yardage and may be too good to stay around for five years. More college ready than his classmate Bars.

Justin Brent – In for Spring, and already has the length and muscle mass to play college football. Will get a lot of work with Jones and Daniel Smith departed and Daniels absent for the Spring. Denbrock plays a lot of receivers and Brent should be able to get some reps and a half a dozen catches or so. Not speedy, but sure handed.

Tyler Luatua – With Koyack, Smythe and Heuermann ahead of him, Luatua should benefit from the Niklas’ departure, as Kelly will not want to start the season with only three TES. Already at 230 he’s strong enough to block some, and let Weishar, who might have Eifertian receiving skills, redshirt and add weight to his 215 pound frame. Koyack and Durham Smythe should get most of the receptions for the TES. Luatua struggled with injury his senior year, but a fresh start in South Bend could show why he was considered a phenom as a junior.

Drue Tranquill – Already at 6’2 1/2″, 220 lbs and claiming a 4.45 forty, he has a reputation as a tackler and a hitter, and can be an immediate insert on special teams. There is opportunity at ILB and Tranquill could find himself on the field in passing downs. Like Bonner, his camp play compelled the staff to recruit him. Might have a career arc like Harrison Smith and might have similar physique and speed.

Remember be patient with the frosh. They may need September’s four games to adjust to the speed, pace and physicality of college football. But it is a new era. Players leave after three years, and frosh play a lot.

Go Irish!!

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Comments to this Article

  • LucasCorso commented on February 10th, 2014 at 2:12 pm

    I’d be shocked to see Mokwuah on the field in 2014. He’s likely going to need reshaping and conditioning before he’s able to contribute. It isn’t just about size. Remember Nix early in his career? People made comments similar to these about Mokwuah. “A big body.” “The size to eat space.” But it took Nix a couple of years before he was ready for the field.

    [Reply]

    Tom replied on February 10th, 2014 at 3:16 pm

    I completely agree with you on Mokwuah. He is huge, but there are reasons why he was under recruited–a lack of strength and speed/agility. He needs to take his body, stay around 315/325 and add major muscle mass in order to play the role of NT. He won’t get reps as a DE, so I don’t think we see Cage or Mokwuah this year because they are interior guys that generally won’t be subbed in–as we will generally alternate to a 4-3 and eliminate their need. Mokwuah has huge potential if he turns his fat into muscle and learns to play low. No reason he can’t be as good as Nix after RS year

    [Reply]

  • Peter Murutz commented on February 10th, 2014 at 3:48 pm

    I thought we had more projectable Freshmen last year. This is a tough one. I would put Nelson at the top but I also see his position and feel he may be a year away. Brent comes to the top then maybe a Jay Hayes and a Nick Weishar and I think Cage and any DLineman can be seen as needed and plugged in as their determination dictates.

    [Reply]

  • duranko commented on February 10th, 2014 at 4:42 pm

    I respect your mutual reticence on Mokwuah. But here are the assumptions:

    (1) Only Jones and Springmann have played nose guard.

    (2) The staff will not want to go into the season with only two
    nose tackles, or so I assumed.

    (3) His height gives him an edge over Cage or Hayes, again, so I assume.

    His body does need reshaping, but he is more “mature” and less of a fun-loving kid than Nix was upon arrival, and is more likely to start lifting earlier, like right now.

    I would be only mildly surprised if Cage is the third nose tackle.

    I would be completely shocked if the coaching staff begins the year with only two nose tackles.

    [Reply]

  • Jimbasil commented on February 10th, 2014 at 4:56 pm

    “A fortnight”? Nice one.

    I like this Morgan and Smith on D at the same time. All that athleticism and speed.

    Brent, I like his demeanor on the field. This kid is built for playing college already and he’s an EE. What’s not to like there?

    I think we’re going to find out, Smythe has some real ability (pass catching and yds after catch – blocking might be his issue tho). He looked to have that oft talked about “it” ability when looking at his tapes from HS.

    Nice post D.

    [Reply]

  • Michael the Archangel commented on February 10th, 2014 at 7:22 pm

    duranko- Good projections.

    But as for me, the more the better.

    “Next Man In” seems more reliable when the next man in
    actually had sufficient minutes before he’s thrown into the fire (see: Andrew Hendrix vs. $C).
    So utilizing Frosh studs in a series or three makes sense because, like duranko pointed out with Quentin,
    ” Nelson may be useful in a Joshua Garnett (Stanford) type role on the goal line and short yardage
    and may be too good to stay around for five years.”
    Exactly. And to elaborate on that insight-
    Maximize the hard-earned depth you’ve recruited,
    give more game-time chances to your ‘next men in’.
    Find a series or scheme (goal-line, red-zone, blitz/stunt, 4 receiver set )
    where utilizing DB or DL or LB or WR Frosh or red-shirt Frosh
    gives them true college-game time minutes ( unlike Malik has had- and hopefully, will have).
    So as “next man in”, they’ve been there before.
    If these last two classes of key recruits
    are as good as they look or as projected, and continue to develop,
    more than Nelson will not be at ND for a fifth year (or maybe not even a fourth)!

    The more involved and contributing the better.

    [Reply]

  • JDriveSthND commented on February 10th, 2014 at 9:06 pm

    I really don’t understand all the knocks on Justin Brent’s speed. He run a timing 4.52 at the Opening, which basically means he’s just as fast as Michael Floyd, and if I recall, he turned out to be pretty good. :)

    He also had a great SPARQ rating, ranking 5th at WR at the Opening. Incidentally, his SPARQ rating was better than Malachi Dupre’s, Josh Malone’s, Michiah Quick’s, JuJu Smith’s, and Allen Lazard.

    [Reply]

    Brad Sinclair replied on February 11th, 2014 at 9:38 am

    I agree completely. Of course we all want to see a receiver who can blaze past the CB and jog into the endzone. Instant points and impact and always a threat. Good receivers, however, are about so much more than speed. I don’t see Wes Welker burning up the turf with his speed but he can ran a route and always find a place where the defenders aren’t there.

    [Reply]

  • RICH ROBINSON commented on February 10th, 2014 at 9:32 pm

    AS SOMEONE WHO HAS SEEN ADREW TRUMBETTI PLAY, IRISH FANS WILL BE PLEASED TO KNOW THIS KID IS A FREAKISH ATHLETE. HE SHOULD CONTRIBUTE RIGHT AWAY AS A THIRD DOWN PASS RUSHER. SPEED OFF THE EDGE, ALA JADAVEON CLOWNEY, IS A GREAT WEAPON TO EMPLOY. THOSE WHO FEEL YOU NEED TO BE 280 TO BE A GOOD DEFENSIVE END ARE WRONG. YEARS AGO U.C.L.A EMPLOYED TWO 240LB SPEED RUSHERS AND THEY WERE VERY SUCCESSFUL. THAT WAS THE GAME IN WHICH THEY HARASSED BRADY QUINN ALL DAY. SETTING UP THE LAST MINUTE DRIVE, CULMINATING IN JEFF SAMARDZIA’S CATCH AND RUN FOR THE WINING SCORE. AS WE SAW THIS YEAR, TUITT, 322, SHELDON DAY 300, NOT TOO EFFECTIVE AS PASS RUSHING ENDS.

    [Reply]

  • LG commented on February 10th, 2014 at 10:17 pm

    I think you are missing the boat on Brent “half a dozen catches or so”. So essentially your are projecting about 8 catches. No way. If this coaching staff is worth it’s weight in sand they will have him ready, esp with an entire 9 months to get him ready. If JB doesn’t have 20-30 catches and 3-5 TDs this season it will be a terrible injustice and the WR coach and Off. Cord. should be fired. My opinion tho…..

    [Reply]

  • ARMAC commented on March 2nd, 2014 at 7:07 pm

    I think we’ll see Blankenship. On signing day Kelly referred to him as a ‘massive human being’. He has size, weight-room work ethic, and speed. If he shows up at 6’6 and 285, how do you not play him?

    [Reply]

  • duranko commented on March 3rd, 2014 at 2:56 pm

    ARMAC, that’s a good call on Blankenship’s potential. He was up to 265 when Kelly saw him before signing day and he’s in a growth spurt.

    Second, whether it was hyperbole or not, the Oklahoma Staff had told Blankenship that he would be their best defensive lineman the day he walked on campus.

    Third, he played for the Colony, in some pretty stiff, sophisticated, and spring practice enriched Dallas Metroplex competition.

    ewh

    [Reply]

  • Joseph T. Hogan commented on March 9th, 2014 at 9:18 am

    Any relation to my classmate, Pete Duranko?

    [Reply]

    Ron Burgundy replied on March 9th, 2014 at 4:18 pm

    No, we’ve been over this.

    [Reply]

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