Notre Dame and Michigan are engaging in a bit of gamesmanship this week with neither team releasing an official depth chart. This is not uncommon and happens all the time. Still the fans want to know who is where in the pecking order at each position, so we’re taking a stab at it based on everything we’ve seen and read this summer.
- Brandon Wimbush
- Ian Book
- Phil Jurkovec
No surprise here. Wimbush is the starter but he might be on a short leash. If he short hops some throws early or isn’t very accurate early on, we know Kelly is quick to go to his backup (see 2011 South Florida game). It will be very interesting to see if Wimbush finishes this one as the unquestioned starter like he enters it. He was pulled for Book in three of the last four games of 2017.
- Tony Jones Jr
- Jafar Armstrong
- Avery Davis
* Dexter Williams
We have Dexter Williams listed here at the bottom on the off chance he plays. Brian Kelly has said that he will be dressed and on the sidelines which has only fueled rumors he might play despite a summer long speculation that he is suspended for the first four games. If he’s not available, Jones Jr will get the start with converted wide receiver Jafar Armstrong not far behind. Don’t be surprised if Armstrong gets 8-10 carries in his debut at running back even if Jones starts.
- Miles Boykin (W) / Chase Claypool (X) / Chris Finke (Z)
- Kevin Austin (W) / Michael Young (X) / Lawrence Keys (Z)
- Micah Jones (W) / Joe Wilkins (X) / Braden Lenzy (Z)
I really thought Michael Young would force his way into the lineup this summer but apparently Chris Finke has held him off at the Z receiver position. Kelly mentioned on Tuesday that freshman Kevin Austin and Young are the next two wide receivers and hinted that is his rotation for the early part of the season. Watching how much action Austin gets will be interesting. He has the looks of the next great receiver, but how ready he is for the vaunted Michigan defense remains a question.
Boykin and Claypool as the starters give Notre Dame a pair of massive, physical receivers to go up against Michigan’s stout secondary. If they struggle, look for Kelly and the Irish to try and attack with speed instead (enter Young & Austin)
- Alize Mack
- Cole Kmet
- Nic Weishar
There’s some debate as to whether Cole Kmet is already the top tight end but until we see otherwise we’ll list Mack. He might just be keeping the position warm for Kmet though. Regardless of the starter, look for Notre Dame to use multiple tight end sets much more than they did a year ago with those two and Nic Weishar giving the Irish an uber talented trio.
- Liam Eichenberg (LT) / Alex Bars (LG) / Sam Mustipher (C) / Tommy Kraemer (RG) / Robert Hainsey (RT)
- Jarrett Patterson (LT) / Dillon Gibbons / Trevor Ruhland (C) / Josh Lugg (RG) /Aaron Banks (RT)
No surprises here. Robert Hainsey battled injuries in camp but he is back and fully cleared. Michigan is going to test Liam Eichenberg in his first career start so LT is one area to watch. True freshman Jarrett Patterson is listed as the backup but its hard to imagine Notre Dame not shuffling the deck a bit if Eichenberg struggles.
- Khalid Kareem (SDE) / Daelin Hayes (DROP)
- Ade Ogundeji (SDE) / Julian Okwara (DROP)
- Jamir Jones (SDE) / Kofi Wardlow (DROP)
The only surprise here is how deep this unit is. In past years Okwara and Ogundeji could be starters. It will be interesting to watch how Hayes and Okwara split reps though with Okwara the more skilled pass rusher. The Irish need to pressure Shea Patterson early to keep him from getting settled in so look for Okwara on the field early even with Hayes starting.
- Jerry Tillery (DT) / Jonathan Bonner (NT)
- Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa (DT) / Kurt Hinish (NT)
- Jayson Ademilola (DT) / Micaeh Dew-Treadway (NT)
Looking at this depth makes me smile so much. In many years a talented frosh like Ademilola would be in the two deep just like last year. Notre Dame’s top four are really good, but watch how Bonner holds up at NT in his first career start at the position. Michigan’s line isn’t that great so if he struggles it could be a bad sign for the season.
- Asmar Bilal
- Shayne Simon
- Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah
I questioned who would start at ROVER a few weeks back and Asmar Bilal answered that emphatically by quickly ending any competition with frosh Shayne Simon. Simon is the future of the position for Notre Dame, but Kelly tempered expectations for him yesterday. Watch for Michigan to target Bilal early in the passing game. It’s been the one glaring weakness in his game to this point in his career so the Wolverines would be unwise not to test him.
- Drue Tranquill
- Jordan Genmark Heath
- Jack Lamb
Not much to see here, but Notre Dame really needs Tranquill to stay healthy. Genmark Heath showed a lot of promise in the Citrus Bowl but is still a bit undersized for the BUCK position.
- Tevon Coney
- Bo Bauer
- Jonathan Jones
Same goes here where it looks like freshman early enrollee Bo Bauer has passed Jonathan Jones on the depth chart to back up Tevon Coney.
- Julian Love / Troy Pride
- Shaun Crawford / Donte Vaughn
This is easily Notre Dame’s bet set of corners since Shane Walton and Vontez Duff both turned in All American seasons in 2002 for that stingy Notre Dame defense. Add in Shaun Crawford and the Irish have one hell of a trio of corners. They’ll benefit from not having to cover Tarik Black this weekend, but on any given weekend the Irish’s top 3 corners have the skills to matchup with anyone. The depth behind them, however, is a little dicey given that after Donte Vaughn, the rest of the depth chart is full of true freshmen.
- Alohi Gilman / Nick Coleman
- Jalen Elliott / Houston Griffith
The one position group that still has questions to answer is safety. We’ve heard all spring and summer long that Alohi Gilman is the real deal and will solidify one safety position. We’ve heard over the last couple of weeks that Nick Coleman has gone from spring cast off to surprising starter at the other. Coleman was so far behind here in spring that he was auditioning at nickel. Freshman Houston Griffith likely would be starting if the injury bug didn’t slow him down, but for now it appears as though the Irish will ride with Coleman.