Notre Dame Football Roster Math: Post Transfergeddon

Notre Dame football just went through a two week period of transfer that should have everyone’s head spinning and questioning where the Irish are at with roster management for 2017 and beyond.  A string of undergraduate transfers in an out, graduate transfers in, and medical hardships all on top of what was already a growing list of graduate transfers might have you thinking Notre Dame has a lot of scholarships to give for 2017.  They don’t.

After all the comings and goings in the last few weeks, Notre Dame is still at 84 scholarships with just one to spare for the 2017 season.

Let’s run through all the additions and subtractions and see who we got to 84 for 2017 and what is left for 2018.

Graduate Transfers Lost (5)

Notre Dame has now lost five graduate transfers for the 2017 season.  Outside of Malik Zaire though, none were expected to play much and even Zaire would have had to win the starting job from Brandon Wimbush.

  • Malik Zaire (QB) – Florida
  • John Montelus (OT) – Virginia
  • Corey Holmes (WR) – Purdue
  • Justin Brent (RB) – Undecided
  • Colin McGovern (OL) – Originally Virginia but now undecided

Undergraduate Transfers Lost (4)

Within the last week or so, the undergraduate transfers have started to pile up for Notre Dame.  The Irish have lost a total of four undergrad players this offseason.  These losses will impact the roster management in 2018 as well.  All four players had eligibility beyond this season.  Perry and Boudreaux actually had four years each.

  • Tristen Hoge (OC) – BYU
  • Josh Barajas (LB) – Illinois State
  • Parker Boudreaux (OC) – Undecided
  • Spencer Perry (S) – Undecided

Medical Hardships (1)

Notre Dame lost just one player to a medical hardship this offseason – Tyler Luatua.  The tight end will not count towards the 85 limit this year and his departure will not impact the roster beyond this year since he would have been a senior without a 5th year available in 2017.

Graduate Transfers Gained (2)

Notre Dame brought in two graduate transfers this offseason.

  • Freddy Canteen (WR) – Michigan
  • Cameron Smith (WR) – Arizona State

Of the two, Canteen has two years of eligibility remaining and the general consensus is he did not transfer in to Notre Dame to only use one of them.  Smith on the other hand has just one year left and won’t count towards the 2018 roster limits.

Undergraduate Transfers Gained (1)

On Friday Notre Dame picked up a rare undergraduate football transfer.  Alohi Gilman from Navy selected Notre Dame over USC.  There has been talk of Gilman applying for a waiver to be eligible in 2017, but regardless of the outcome of that application, Gilman counts towards the 85 limit this year and for potentially three more years after.

So after all of that, Notre Dame is still at 84 scholarships currently.  Whether or not they use the final on another graduate transfer or to reward a walkon this fall remains to be seen.

How Many Scholarships Does Notre Dame Have for 2018?

While the roster math here is pretty cut and dry for 2017, all of the transfers in and out cloud the roster management for 2018 for Notre Dame.  So let’s take a look at what the numbers look like right now.

  • Possible 5th Years: 13
  • Seniors: 20
  • Juniors: 21
  • Sophomores: 21
  • Current 2018 Commitments: 12

Ok so if we add that all up we get 87.  Crap!  Notre Dame’s over the limit already!  No, not quite.

Who Will Take the 5th For Notre Dame?

Of the 13 possible 5th year seniors, not all will be coming back either of their own choice or Notre Dame’s.  For one, Quenton Nelson could have left for the NFL this past year so it’s hard to imagine that he would be back for 2018 with a degree in hand, so let’s say we’re at 86 now.

Notre Dame will likely want back Jonathan Bonner, Drue Tranquill, Nick Watkins, Jay Hayes, Sam Mustipher, Alex Bars, and Freddy Canteen though.  Now, will all six of them also want to come back?  Bars and Mustipher could both have decent draft stocks by the end of the season and depending on how things shake out on the depth chart who knows if any will be potential graduate transfers.  Let’s be a little conservative and count on six returning.  That brings us to 80.

There’s also a good 5th year case to be made for Tyler Newsome too, but with incoming freshman Jonathan Doerer and Justin Yoon also still on the roster next year will Notre Dame want carry three kickers again in 2018?

And What About Early Departures?

Now let’s look at potential early NFL departures.  There’s only two juniors who look like they could fit the bill for potential early departures – Josh Adams and Equanimeous St. Brown.  Both have explosive NFL talent and both could have huge seasons this fall if all goes as planned.

There is also the chance someone comes out of nowhere with a huge year and has the chance to leave early.  Junior tight end Alize Mack could be that type of player with his skillset.   A lot of factors go into these decisions and Notre Dame has done reasonably well with keeping talent from leaving early though. Let’s say one of the two ends up leaving early.

That brings us down to 79 scholarships right now for 2018 and that is before any potential medical hardships or undergraduate transfers which we’ve seen can add up.  Assuming one medical redshirt and at least two transfers, that would bring us to 76 scholarships with nine more scholarships available for Brian Kelly and staff to build out the class of 2018.  That is right around what most are projecting Notre Dame to be looking to add – if not more.

Now, a lot can change between now and next year as we’ve seen in the last few weeks so obviously these numbers are subject to change but even giving some conservative estimates, it looks like there is still quite a bit of room left in this year’s class and that even if the numbers look tight now.  They have a way of working themselves out.


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