Is it Greg Bryant’s Time to Shine for Notre Dame?

Greg Bryant - Notre Dame RB
Greg Bryant (1) is tackled short of the goal line against the Southern California Trojans during the second half at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. (Photo: Richard Mackson // USA TODAY Sports)

In 2012 Greg Bryant’s star was on the rise, and his future was bright. With over 20 offers on the table including USC, Florida State, Alabama, Ohio St., and Oklahoma, Bryant eventually ended up at Notre Dame after originally committing to Oklahoma. In joining fellow recruit, Tarean Folston, the two were expected to be Notre Dame’s version of “Thunder and Lightning” for years to come, but much like a distant summer storm, the thunder hasn’t been present.

A four-star recruit out of American Heritage high school, Bryant seemed to have all the tools to be a featured back at the school of his choice. Speed, power, and quickness, were just some of the words used to described Bryant – attributes that can’t be taught, merely refined.

With only a grand total of just 57 carries, and 303 yards while at Notre Dame, Bryant has struggled to find the field. Constantly finding himself third on the depth chart behind fellow teammates, Tarean Folston and Can McDaniel, Bryant now has the opportunity to move up directly behind Folston, as McDaniel has graduated. That doesn’t erase the fact that Bryant has had the opportunity to rise up the depth chart before though, and this new opportunity for Bryant speaks more to the lack of depth at the running back department, and less to the maturity and growth of his game.

Injuries have played a part in the lack of Bryant’s development, and speculation of him leaving the program surely didn’t help, but the biggest culprit has been Bryant himself. Relegated mostly to the return team in the latter half of the 2014 season, Bryant saw just 21 carries over the last nine games of the season. When given the chance though, Bryant was one of the lone bright spots in the final game of the regular season, against USC carrying the ball for 7 times for 79 yards, and one touchdown. Some have questioned how coach Brian Kelly has utilized Bryant, but unless you are privy to the internal workings of Notre Dame practice, it is hard to argue against the coaching staff.

While many think that the offensive line should be more consistent in 2015, the graduation of Cam McDaniel means that the Irish lost their most proficient pass blocker in the backfield. This is an obvious area, that if Bryant can excel, can force the hand of Coach Kelly, in having Bryant more involved. If Malik Zaire is named the starter at quarterback, the Irish will need a back who is consistently strong in the pass-blocking department. I’m not suggesting that Bryant needs to be the starter in front of Tarean Folston at this point, but rather hope that he can have just as big of an impact as Folston does in 2015, because that’s what the Irish need to be consistently strong on the offensive side of the ball.

There is no denying the ability of Greg Bryant on the field, and while he has struggled adapting to the college game, it’s not because of talent. Bryant’s biggest struggle has been his ability, or lack thereof, to find his hole and hit it. Indecision has been his biggest nemesis so far in his short time in South Bend, and as Irish fans already know, when he relies on his natural ability and acts, instead of reacts, he has the potential to be as electric as anyone in the country.

With the additions of Dexter Williams and Josh Adams in the 2015 class, there is no doubt that Bryant will be feeling the urge to perform stronger, better, and more consistent than he ever has before.  Wanting to and doing so are two very different things however. Brian Kelly will most definitely keep an open mind to Bryant being the back-up to Folston, as freshmen backs tend to struggle in the pass protection department. So, it would seem the proverbial ball is surely in Bryant’s court. Now it’s up to him to decide what to do with what conceivably could be his final opportunity to make his mark while at the University of Notre Dame.

You may also like


  1. Greg could be a monster of a back on the field. Hopefully, the new OC will be allowed to utilize Greg with more effectiveness.

  2. They’re will be plenty of carries to go around next season and Greg Bryant is going to get his share. I think he is going to get added to the mix of players running the “jet sweep” and will show his explosiveness at those times as well.

  3. Agree, I have been saying since kelly third year hire a young great ocoordinator someone he hasnt worked with before and let the guy have full control of the offense. Then notre dame will have a great offense Imho.

  4. I’ve been reading that our new OC like to run a power run game as opposed Kelly’s zone read…finesse style.

    If……IF Coach Kelly decides to turn over the play calling duties and allow his new OC to install a run game that more closely resembles the ND v LSU game it may help both our returning backs a great deal.

    We have the OL to run down hill on one of the premier defenses in country LSU. 250+ yards was it?

    I’m also reading that he called the run 56% of the time last year. And his QB still managed a 3500yrd season.

    I’m really hoping that Kelly allow the OC some wiggle room and not force him into the pass 1st finesse run game plan.

    We shall see. Heres to wishful thinking.

  5. I agree with all the points here. Hopefully, with Denson he can put it all together this year. Certainly the skill and talent is there.

  6. Woody is right on. Elliot hits the hole full speed, if you tackle him so be it he still gets 3 yards. If you miss he’s now gaining power and at the second level dealing with smaller men and it’s easier to break tackles. If there is a hole Bryant has speed and power just like Elliot and could be just as successful.

    1. Bust through the hole, make a wicked cut and take it to the house!!!

      Go IRISH!!!!!!!!!!

      I’m getting a woody just thinking about it.


  7. Maybe if the offensive line would do there job this kid wouldn’t have to be back there juking and trying to miss defenders. Have you ever thought of that? Too much talent for this kid to be standing and watching. Play him already Kelly. JESUS!!!!

  8. He should just watch video tape of that Ohio State power back and emulate him. That is the type of back he could and should be.

    Yep, stop dancing and start blasting!!!

    I think he will do very well, along with Folston, this year.


    1. WOH,

      Yeah, I suppose he could watch tape of the OSU back… or better yet, he could watch tape of his new position coach(Autry Denson) who was virtually identical in size and weight (5’10” 203lbs) as Bryant (5’10” 205lbs)

      After 2 years of playing with the Irish, Denson had 1,874 yards on 339 carries, with 16 TD’s, over 22 games.

      I think that’s the type of back we would all like him to be…. especially Greg Bryant and coach Denson.

      1. That would be great! Yeah Shazam, I liked Denson a lot. I do think our RB’s will be well coached.

        Of course I want all of them to reach their potential and achieve excellence.


  9. “Bryant’s biggest struggle has been his ability, or lack thereof, to find his hole and hit it.”

    This statement is exactly what has held him back. Too many times, Bryant has “danced” around trying to make the big play, which he could get away with in high school. But everyone is fast at this level now and with his body and power, this kid should be blasting through the hole at full speed looking to punish someone in his way. I think the coaches said something to him about this as it appeared he ran more north/south towards the end of the season with authority. Hopefully he is beginning to understand that he is powerful and that breaking just one tackle with one cut running at full speed gives him a much better chance of breaking off a long run rather than out-juking everyone.

  10. Some fair points. I disagree with the thinking that this could “conceivably” be “his final opportunity to make his mark while at the University of Notre Dame.” While disappointing as a freshman, it was somewhat of a wash as he was awarded a medical redshirt. Sure, some highly touted freshman step in and contribute big immediately, but it is an exception, not the norm. However, the little he did play served as a valuable adjustment period to the college game. So if you look at last year as his freshman year, and first full season, his performance isn’t nearly as disappointing, and the outlook is far less bleak. If he takes longer to become an impact player, it wouldn’t be the first time an ND back didn’t emerge until very late in their career. I am hopeful, and confident, this “sophomore” will put it together sooner than later.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button