Today we’re kicking off a countdown of the top 25 players on the Notre Dame roster for 2017. You may have seen a group of Notre Dame sites run a countdown last week. Well, no one asked us so we decided to do our own between myself, Greg Flammang, and MAtt Fairchild of Sportscrack.com.
The basic premise here was pretty simple. We each ranked the top 25 Notre Dame players from 1 through 25. The player ranked 1st on each ballot of 25 points while the player ranked 25th got one point. We then tabulated the results and wahla, our top 25 rankings.
Before jumping into rankings 21-25 though, here are a few players who just missed the cut.
- Tevon Coney – I think this one will come back to haunt us because I think he will play a lot and wish I would have ranked him higher than I did. I had him 20th but was the only one to include him.
- Justin Yoon – Another one that could haunt us. If we see an improved 2015 version of Justin Yoon, Notre Dame has an elite kicker.
- CJ Sanders – Sanders might not have a huge role in the offense, but he will impact games this fall as a kick returner if nothing else.
- Nick Coleman – Will the move to safety pay off? This panel was a bit split and Coleman only picked up a few “votes”.
- Chris Finke – Finke is a fine wide receiver and should have a role in the offense.
- Durham Smythe – Will there be enough footballs to go around?
25. Cameron Smith, WR
Highest Ranking: 19; Lowest Ranking: Not Ranked (2 ballots)
This one would have been a surprise three weeks ago, but early word out of fall camp is that the Arizona State graduate transfer has been one of the most consistent receivers and has been running with the first unit. Even still, only Greg ranked Smith in the top 25 players on the roster. Here’s what he had to say:
The grad transfer from Arizona State makes the list at #25. I actually had him ranked higher, as of now he is Notre Dame’s #2 receiver, but there is a lot of time left. Smith knows the offense, has speed to burn, and is highly motivated entering his final year of eligibility.
Personally, I still don’t know whether to buy the reports of Smith running with the 1’s as a ploy by Kelly to motivate his other receivers or if the grad transfer has just been legitimately that much better than the incumbent receivers like Chase Claypool, Javon McKinley, Miles Boykin, Kevin Stepherson, etc.
24. Chase Claypool, WR
HIghest Ranking: 18; Lowest Ranking: 24
Matt was the highest on Claypool which is shocking given I thought Greg was starting the unofficial Chase Claypool fan club in the spring. Here’s what Matt had to say about Claypool.
Probably one of the most intriguing players on the ND roster. Not many players have his combination of size (6’4) and speed but he’s gotta work on being more consistent with his hands to earn Wimbush’s trust. If so the sky is the limit for the Canadian product.
I agree 100% here. The sky is the limit for Claypool, but I think we are still a year away from him really showing what he is capable of. He will have his moments this fall and he might even have a monster game or two, but I also think we will see some weeks where we barely hear from him as he continues to the learn the nuances of playing wide receiver.
Greg had similar thoughts on Claypool.
One of the most physically gifted players on the Notre Dame roster hasn’t seemed to put it all together so far in fall camp. If he was more consistent catching the ball, this is a top 12 player. As it is, he’s in the bottom half of the top 25. He’s going to make enough plays to wet our palates and wonder why he can’t do it more often.
All that said, Claypool has the raw talent to be a top 10 player for Notre Dame and likely will be next year.
23. Andrew Trumbetti, DE
Highest Ranking: 14; Lowest Ranking: Not Ranked (1 ballot)
Like Smith, if these rankings were done two or three weeks ago, Trumbetti might not have made any ballot. As is, Matt ranked Trumbetti 14th while Greg didn’t have Trumbetti ranked at all. Based on the reports of his resurgence in camp, I slotted him just inside the top 25 right at #25.
Matt has some high hopes for the senior defensive end though.
In order for ND to have a good defense it needs to put pressure on the QB. Trumbetti has been getting high praise by Kelly this summer during practice and workouts and looks to be one of those better late than never bloomers who explodes onto the scene his final year in the blue and gold.
Let’s all hope he is right because if Trumbetti is the 14th best player on the Notre Dame roster this fall the defense has a chance to be pretty darn good.
22. Tommy Kraemer, OT
Highest Ranking: 15; Lowest Ranking: Not Ranked (1 ballot)
Another player with some polarized rankings. Greg had Kraemer the highest at 15th while I didn’t have Kraemer on my ballot. Here’s what Greg had to say on Kreamer.
The redshirt freshman at right tackle makes the list as the lone first time starter on the offensive line. A very highly regarded recruit, and an excellent run blocker, the question is can Kraemer hold up against the pass, which he has struggled some with so far? If he can, Notre Dame has themselves an offensive line extremely low on weaknesses.
The question Greg raised are why Kraemer wasn’t on my list at all. It’s not that I don’t think Kraemer will become a really good player for Notre Dame, it’s just that I don’t think that it will happen overnight in his first year as a starter. I think we’ll some really good things from him at times this year, but we’ll also see some moments that remind us that he is a true sophomore who didn’t play last year asa frosh.
21. Donte Vaughn, CB
Highest Ranking: 20 (2 ballots); Lowest Ranking: 21
Rounding out our initial set of rankings here is a player who was ranked almost the same by all three of us. Donte Vaughn was ranked 20th on two ballots and 21st on the third. In retrospect, I might even want to rank Vaughn a little bit higher because I think Notre Dame has themselves a really fine corner here in Donte Vaughn. He got to cut his teeth last year and looks ready to be play a lot. In fact, his emergence is part of the reason Notre Dame has the luxury of playing Julian Love at safety at times.
Greg echoed similar sentiments about Vaughn.
The sophomore corner is currently in a battle for playing time at cornerback with Shaun Crawford, behind Nick Watkins and Julian Love. Word is he’s been one of camps standouts and has shown improvement from his freshman season. Given the dynamics of the roster, Vaughn looks set to play a lot of snaps in 2017, and we can expect a high level of play.
Vaughn has the looks of a young Bobby Taylor to me and it would not shock me if he outplayed this ranking by season’s end – especially if Notre Dame has to rely on Love at safety too much or if Crawford struggles again with injuries this year.
Next up we’ll have our players who are ranked 16th-20th with some players who were ranked vastly differently by this panel.