Notre Dame Football’s Top 25 Players in 2017: #6-10

We’ve reached the top 10 of countdown of the Top 25 Notre Dame football players for 2017 and have just one more installment left after today.  Today’s set of players includes a few intriguing players whose rankings right now are based more on potential than prior production.  Those players though could be the difference between a great season and an OK season for Notre Dame if they play to their potential.

As another reminder, these rankings are based on compiling rankings from myself, our own Greg Flammang, and’s Matt Fairchild.

10. Julian Love – So, CB/S

Highest Ranking: 8th; Lowest Ranking: 15th

It’s not surprising that Greg had Julian Love the highest of the three of us.  Greg has been high on Love ever since he signed with Notre Dame and the sophomore corner has proven him right so far in his young career.

The utility defensive back is #8 in my ranking, he’s going to be really good this season. He’ll play corner, he’ll play safety, he’ll be a key figure on special teams. I’ll put the over/under on the number of times fans think “man, I’m glad that guy is on the team” at 78.5. Take the over.

As Greg referenced, Love will play some safety this year in addition to corner where he was a freshman All-American.  The move is both an indication of Love’s versatility and what Notre Dame thinks it has – or doesn’t have – at safety.

Surprisingly, Matt had Love ranked just 15th.  If there are indeed 14 better football players on the Notre Dame roster this year, Notre Dame will be a lot better than most people think.

9. Daelin Hayes – So, WDE

Highest Ranking: 7th; Lowest Ranking: 12th

Ok Matt, I forgive you now for having Daelin Hayes in the top 10 while Greg came in the lowest on Hayes.  I must admit that perhaps my wish for Notre Dame to have a legit pass rush may have led me to rank Hayes a bit too high at #7 overall, but count me as a believer in the sophomore rush end.  Hayes was beyond impressive in the Blue & Game as Matt pointed out.

If you saw the spring game on NBC Sports you got a glimpse of what this season may hold for the 5-star prospect who didn’t see the field much his freshman season.  A pass rushing specialist, Hayes could get double digit sacks in Mike Elko’s new defense.  The Irish are counting on it.

And I agree that Hayes could hit 10 sacks this season in Elko’s defense.  I don’t think he will as a true sophomore, but he’s got the talent to.  Hayes could still struggle against the run against a team like Stanford, but he is going to play a lot and he should lead Notre Dame in sacks this fall.

Greg had Hayes outside of the top 10 but it was more superstitious.

I had Hayes just outside of the top 10, but that’s just me tempering my enthusiasm for what he could be. If he hits the way he could, this is too low. I just don’t want to jinx this one.

A good over/under for sacks for Hayes this season would be 7.5.  Anything over and we might just have a legit pass rush on our hands this year.

8. Drue Tranquill – Sr, ROVER

Highest Ranking: 7th; Lowest Ranking: 11th

I am actually a bit surprised the rankings on Drue Tranquill were as close as they were.  I expected a wide range for him after a junior year that was a bit of a disappointment. Now nearly two years removed from his second torn ACL of his collegiate career and at a new position that plays to his strengths, a breakout season could be in order.

No one was higher on Tranquill than Greg,

The story on Tranquill is pretty consistent, he finally gets to play the position people have been saying would be perfect for him even before it was a position in the defense. Will he stay healthy? Will he fulfill his destiny? I say yes.

I on the other hand was a bit lower ranking Tranquill outside my top 10 at #11.  Perhaps I am just having some Harrison Smith as an outside linebacker in 2009 flashbacks.  Until further notice though, in Elko I trust.

7. Alize Mack – Jr, TE

Highest Ranking: 5th; Lowest Ranking: 9th

Like Hayes, Alize Mack is another player getting ranked high based on his potential since to this point we haven’t seen a whole lot from Mack thanks in large part to his academic suspension last fall.  Mack could still struggle as a run blocker this year but as a receiver he should be one of Brandon Wimbush’s most trusted weapons.  Mack is simply a matchup nightmare for whoever opposing defensive coordinators try to put on him.

Matt clearly has high hopes for Mack with a 5th overall ranking.

Coming off a sophomore year suspension due to academics Alize returned with a new attitude and a new last name.  The return of the Mack means ND could have it’s most explosive tight end weapon since Tyler Eifert.

Greg and I on the other hand is a bit more apprehensive with Mack ranking him 9th and 8th respectively.

I’m a little leery on Mack, although it’s hard to overlook his physical makeup and athletic ability. Will we finally see him make the plays we expected to see last season? Lets hope so, because it would change the offense and how good it can be.

How well Mack run blocks could determine who is more accurate here.  If Mack can hold his own, he’ll be tough to take off the field.  Notre Dame is not short on tight ends though with Durham Smythe and a pair of uber freshmen chomping at the bit for playing time.

6. Equanimeous St. Brown – Jr, WR

Highest Ranking: 4; Lowest Ranking: 7

With a huge season in 2017, Equanimeous St. Brown could have a decision to make with regards to the NFL.  After nearly topping 1,000 yards as a sophomore, St. Brown should eclipse that mark as a junior and could find himself among the best wide receivers in the country.  Some may question why St. Brown isn’t in the top 5 and that’s a valid point.  The only question I have with St. Brown this year is if there will be enough balls to go around for St. Brown to put up the monster kind of season that could make him a first round pick.

Greg is convinced.

ESB was 4th in my ranking, I pretty much think he’s going to be a star. He wet the palate last year with his breakout season and he’ll take the next step this season. Look for double digit touchdowns and a 1,000 yard season.

The good news here is that reports out of camp are that St. Brown has really taken a step forward this year.  Last year he kind of fell in to the #1 WR role after Notre Dame lost literally all of their wide receiver from 2015.  This summer St. Brown has been acting like a #1 wide receiver and carrying himself like one.

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