The 2013 season was a difficult and frustrating one for many members of the Notre Dame football team, especially running back Greg Bryant. The Delray Beach, Florida native came into South Bend with a tremendous amount of hype as a five star recruit and the expectations that come with being one of the best players in the 2013 class. Bryant wasn’t able to fill those lofty expectations as a freshman as a nagging knee injury as well as depth at the running back position, adapting to life at Notre Dame and the playbook limited Bryant to only appearing in three games while carrying the ball only three times for 14 yards on his way to being redshirted.
Bryant is ready to put the difficulties of last season behind him however, as his knee is healed, he insists he’s adapted to life at Notre Dame and with the departure of George Atkinson III, more carries are up for grabs.
There is nothing that should hold Bryant off the field this season as after a year of growth in his understanding of the game at the college level his freakish athletic ability will begin to take over. Irish head coach Brian Kelly has stated time and again that Bryant is the team’s most powerful back which should put him on the inside track towards being the Irish’s go to short yardage back. The Irish were pitiful in short yardage last season and having a true powerhouse in the backfield should fix that problem and lead to a more potent offense.
As with most young running backs blitz pickup can be a problem as a freshman but that likely won’t be an issue for the sophomore this season which will allow him to be on the field more and factor into the team’s passing attack. Having another receiving option out of the backfield who can make plays in space will greatly improve the Irish offense as the team’s quarterbacks abilities to extend the play can lead to mismatches and open up the field for the likes of Bryant and fellow sophomore and Florida native Tarean Folston.
Bryant and Folston present the possibility of an exceptionally talented, SEC level, one-two punch for the Irish as if Bryant fulfills his potential this season it should lead to Cam McDaniel seeing his touches drop as he becomes the number three option. Bryant simply possesses the athletic ability to do things McDaniel can’t do as McDaniel has to work for every yard with his hardnosed style, where Bryant can get to the second level, make one cut and create a massive gain as shown in his 51 yard run in the Irish’s spring game.
If Bryant emerges this season it will benefit Notre Dame tremendously as this year’s installment of the Irish football team will often need to rely on the offense to win games and help out the inexperienced defense and with multiple workhorse running backs controlling the pace of the game would prove much easier.