After a bit an interruption, our countdown of the top 25 players on the Notre Dame roster continues with numbers 11-15. Today we’ll take a look at the future all-time scoring record holder at Notre Dame, two offensive linemen, a rising star on defense, and Greg’s favorite wide receiver of all-time.
In case you missed the first two parts of this series, here are quick links to both.
15. Justin Yoon, K
Ballots: 3, Highest Rank: 9, Lowest Rank 21
It seems like Yoon has been at Notre Dame forever as he enters his 4th season as Notre Dame’s starting place kicker. By the time he leaves after this year, he will very likely leave it atop the Notre Dame scoring record books.
After a stellar freshman campaign, the one thing Yoon has not really done the last two seasons is take that big leap forward towards being one of the elite kickers in the country. In fact, Yoon regressed a bit as a sophomore before bouncing back as a junior last year. If Yoon does take that step forward this year, Matt’s ranking might not seem too high by season’s end.
I had Yoon ranked higher than anyone else all the way up in my top 10. And that was before I saw his 62 yard field goal in practice earlier this week.
He’s gonna become ND’s all-time leading scorer this fall. YOOOOOOOOOON!
14. Tommy Kraemer, OT
Ballots: 3, Highest Rank: 12, Lowest Rank: 18
If Tommy Kraemer is only the 12th best player for Notre Dame this year, the Irish offensive line will likely have taken a step back. What’s interesting here is that Kraemer comes in ranked lower than Robert Hainsey who he shared reps with last year. Sometimes people forget how good Kraemer was coming out of high school and may underrate him because he didn’t immediately win a starting job and then shard duties with Hainsey last fall.
When the season is over, I think this is one ranking that we might look back on and all wish we had ranked Kraemer a bit higher. I had Kraemer 12th and I know I already wish I had ranked him higher. I think he’ll end up as one of the players who makes the most progress this year and sets himself up nicely for an All-American season in 2019.
I had Kraemer ranked the highest at #12 but Matt is pretty optimistic about him as well.
The 5-star is ready to start after splitting time with Hainsey last season at right tackle. The scary thing is ND is so loaded on the line it’s not a given Kraemer starts.
13. Khalid Kareem, DE
Ballots: 3, Highest Rank: 10, Lowest Rank: 16
The hype has been building for Khalid Kareem ever since Jay Hayes transferred when it became apparent that Kareem was going to be the strongside defensive end for Notre Dame in 2018. That hype has not died down one bit in training camp. If anything, the hype has continued to build.
If Notre Dame is going to have the kind of pass rush that is hoping – the kind that could make a playoff run a reality – Notre Dame needs Kareem to make a leap forward. All of the signs are there that the leap is coming. He flashed at times last year in limited action. Then he had the kind of spring that made losing Jay Hayes more of an afterthought than anyone would have thought. Tevon Coney, Drue Tranquill, and Jerry Tillery get most of the attention; but like Coney last year, Kareem could end the season with the headlines.
Greg ranked Kareem the highest at #10 overall.
The line says Kareem is the toughest player to block and I’m going to take their word for it.
12. Robert Hainsey, OG
Ballots: 3, Highest Rank: 10, Lowest Rank: 17
Notre Dame’s top two offensive linemen are pretty indisputable – Alex Bars and Sam Mustipher. According to our panel here, Hainsey is the 3rd best just a few spots higher than Tommy Kraemer and 10 spots higher than Liam Eichenberg.
Matt had Hainsey ranked the highest among us at #10.
As a true freshman Hainsey stepped in and took half the snaps at right tackle last season.
Hainsey has battled through some injuries in training camp but should be fine for the season opener against Michigan when Notre Dame will desperately need him against the loaded Wolverine front.
Hainsey forced his way into the lineup last year. That was more a testament to Hainsey’s game than an indictment on Kraemer’s. A year older and stronger, it’s reasonable to expect Hainsey to be better. How much better? That remains to be seen but all all indications are that Hainsey is headed right in the footsteps of the recent great Notre Dame offensive line.
11. Chase Claypool
3 Ballots, Highest Rank: 9, Lowest Rank 13
It is not shocking that Greg ranked Chase Claypool the highest of the three of us. Most people thought that Claypool was going to take a huge leap forward last year after reporting to Notre Dame raw out of Canada. When that didn’t happen, some started to question whether or not Claypool would ever be the star receiver that some have been projecting since he arrived.
Perhaps I’m enamored by his physical skills to put him in the top 10 but dang it this is the year!
Matt thinks Caypool is a top 10 talent as well but has him just outside.
Claypool is a top 10 talent he just needs to put forth the focus and dominate during his junior season.
This season is crucial for Claypool if he is ever to fully tap into the potential that he’s displayed since day one. If he can display the consistency that he has lacked since day one in 2018, he has all of the tools to be the next great Notre Dame wide receiver. If he doesn’t Notre Dame now has a loaded freshman crop of wide receivers who will be looking to unseat him sooner rather than later – Kevin Austin specifically.
I’m clearly expecting a big season from Claypool and for him to take that step. Before training camp I predicted a 1,000 yard season from him. In hindsight, perhaps that was a big optimistic; but I still expect Claypool to have a big year.