Notre Dame Football’s Top 25 Players for 2019: #25-21

Every year a bunch of Notre Dame sites all rank the top 25 Notre Dame football players on the Irish roster for the upcoming season.  Apparently, our invite keeps getting lost in the mail each year so as we’ve done the past few years, we decided to do our rankings between myself, Greg, and Matt from Sportscrack.  Today we’re starting our countdown with the bottom of our top 25.

For a little bit of fun, you can find all of our posts with our countdowns from the last two years below.  Feel free to make fun of us in the comments.

Ok, What is This Again?

In case you haven’t read any of these in the past; Greg, Matt, and I each rank the top 25 players on the Notre Dame roster for the upcoming year.  I then combine the rankings in a Google Sheet and compile the composite rankings and write up our thoughts in groups of five players at a time, providing commentary from each of us along the way.

Okay, with that out of the way, let’s jump into our countdown.

#25. Tony Jones Jr (RB, Sr)

  • Highest ranking: 20
  • Lowest ranking: NR
  • Number of Ballots: 1

Matt: Listen we all know Tony isn’t the fastest, quickest or most elusive back on the roster but he’s the most reliable.  You know he’s gonna pick up the blitz and you know he’s gonna make a big catch out of the backfield.  But he isn’t out running somebody that’s for sure.

#24. Shayne Simon (LB, So)

  • Highest ranking: 19
  • Lowest ranking: NR
  • Number of Ballots: 1

Matt was way more bullish on all of the Notre Dame linebackers than Greg or I were so let’s hope that Matt is one to something with his rankings.  There is no assurance that Simon will even start this year, but Matt has him ranked 19th overall with the thinking that he will ultimately move back to ROVER after playing everywhere in the spring including MIKE in the Blue & Gold game.

Since Matt was the only one to rank Simon in the top 25, I’ll let him speak for himself here.

Matt: Simon was expected to be plugged into Clark Lea‘s Rover position this spring but didn’t win the starting spot as far as I’ve heard.  It’s the position he was specifically recruited for by Lea and one in which he should flourish with his natural instincts for the football.

#23. Houston Griffith (CB, So)

  • Highest ranking: 22
  • Lowest ranking: 25
  • Number of Ballots: 3

Griffith’s ranking was really interesting to me because it seems like all of three of us had a “where will he end up playing” rationale tied to our ranking.  Physically, Griffith might be a top 10 athlete on the team in 2019 but I think this might be a weird in-between year for him where he plays a little all over again before being a star player in 2020.  There is a very real chance he accelerates that growth and lands there in 2019 too though.  He’s that physically gifted.  Where Griffith ends up getting slatted will ultimately determine a lot of the secondary pairings for this fall.

Greg:  I want to put him higher, but how much will he play? And where? I’m not even certain of his position, so it’s hard to rank him at all. But, he’s very good and the coaches have to find a way to get him involved.

Matt: With Pride replacing consensus All-American Julian Love at boundary CB rising sophomore Griffith is expected to start at field CB.  As a true freshman, Griffith played safety and nickel and had some struggles but I think once his confidence gets going he’s gonna fill in for Pride just fine this fall.

#22. Jarrett Patterson (OL, So)

  • Highest ranking: 20
  • Lowest ranking: 25
  • Number of Ballots: 3

Jarrett Patterson is a player that we’re all kind of projecting here since he didn’t play a down last year but looks locked in as the starting center for the fall.  Patterson was impressive for a first time player in the spring at center and will have plenty of veteran help around him.  That should help ease him into being a first-time starter this fall.

Greg: This could be an undersell, but it’s mostly a cop-out. He should be in the top 25, the coaches love him, I have no idea how to project how good he will be. He’s been a center for about 15 minutes. Again, the coaches love him.

Matt: Patterson has made the transition from backup left tackle his freshman season to earning the starting center job in the spring.  He will be the only new starter on a veteran offensive line replacing a 3-year starter and captain Sam Mustipher.  So far all reports have been great coming out of spring practice.

#21. Jayson Ademilola (DT, So)

  • Highest ranking: 18
  • Lowest ranking: NR
  • Number of Ballots: 2

It surprised me that Ademilola was only on two of our ballots.  Greg, we will point you back to these rankings in December.  Personally, I think Ademilola is going to play a lot this fall.  He is probably Notre Dame’s most talented interior lineman – although Jacob Lacey might have something to say about that in a year or two.  He will start the year second on the depth chart behind Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, but I think we will see Ademilola play a lot of snaps this fall – especially on pass-rushing downs.

Maybe I am biased because Ademilola played at nearby St. Peter’s Prep to me, but I just see really big things from him before he graduates and think we start to see him make moves this fall.

Matt: Jayson got thrown into the fire early last season when Lord Myron broke his foot and played solid for a true freshman.  His 19 tackles were only 4 behind starter Bonner and he had 1.5 tackles for loss when Bonner had zero.  The more you take a look at the roster you realize just how deep and talented the defensive line is when a guy like Jayson A isn’t even expected to start.  Credit to position coach Mike Elston for crushing it in recruiting.

Players Who Just Missed the Cut

  • Asmar Bilal (LB, 5th) – It is probably a bad sign that Notre Dame’s only returning linebacker with any real experience fell outside of our top 25 but none of us felt overly confident in Bilal’s move to MIKE.  Greg and I both had him towards the bottom of our rankings, but Matt had him off the board.
  • Kyle Hamilton (S, Fr) – Greg’s latest man-crush only appeared on one ballot at #21 overall.  I’ll let you guess whose.  Greg could be on to something here though because it would not surprise me if Hamilton ended the year as the starting nickel.  Here’s what Greg had to say on Hamilton: “So this is a reach and I could instantly regret it the moment the first practice report comes out and he’s deemed not ready as many freshmen are. But, I’m betting on his talent. I think he’ll be a star and we’ve got him for three years so we better use while he’s with us.
  • Kevin Austin (WR, So) – I was the only one to rank Austin because I feel good about what he is going to do in the Notre Dame offense once he is back on the field from whatever undisclosed “suspension” he is reportedly on.
  • Shaun Crawford (CB, 5th) – Greg was the only one to rank Crawford and IF the 5th year senior is fully healthy, he will look pretty smart by the end of the season.  Given Crawford’s extensive injury history though, I just didn’t know where to place him.
  • Jack Lamb (LB, So) – Sophomore LB only appeared on one ballot, Matt’s.  If he stays healthy and locks down the BUCK position, we’ll look back at Lamb as being very under-rated. “Lamb is my wildcard pick for the linebacker position,” Matt said.  “He’s battled injuries with his ankle but appears to be healthy and ready to earn the starting ILB position this fall.  His speed and length put him at an advantage over all the other LBs competing this fall to start and I think he can bring more steadiness than 5th year senior Asmar Bilal who completely fell off my list.
  • TaRiq Bracy (CB, So) – Another player who only appeared on one ballot because he is probably a year away from being more of a top 10-15 player for Notre Dame.  Here’s what Greg added on Bracy, “He can cover people, we know that. Not sure if he can tackle, and not sure if he can hold up over the long haul. But, he can cover people and there is something to be said for that.

Check back tomorrow for our players ranked 16th-20th.  Spoiler alert: more defensive linemen are coming.

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  1. I’d be happy to trade 3 of those defensive linemen who are coming for ONE big play linebacker.

    BGC ’77 ’82

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