Notre Dame might not be done adding to its 2020 football roster just yet. According to a report from Irish Illustrated, the Irish are currently in pursuit of Stanford graduate transfer running back Trevor Speights.
Speights was one of 16 players to enter the transfer protocol for Stanford after their disappointing 2019 season – three of whom ultimately decided to return to Palo Alto without transferring. According to Irish Illustrated, a visit from Speights is close to happening.
Not only have conversations gone extremely well so far, but we’re actually told the 5-11, 205-pounder is finalizing plans to get on campus for a visit in March. Running backs coach Lance Taylor is leading the way on this recruitment and if things go well on the visit between both sides and the staff is sure there is a spot for him, it’s hard to see him landing anywhere else.
Notre Dame’s interest makes a lot of sense on multiple levels. First, there is the Lance Taylor connection. Notre Dame’s running back’s coach and running game coordinator knows Speights from his time at Stanford and helped recruit him to Stanford in the first place. So there is some familiarity with the Notre Dame coaching staff.
Additionally, Notre Dame’s running backs room is filled with more questions than answers heading into 2020. Jafar Armstrong has shown some promise at times, but he hasn’t been able to stay healthy, and it’s fair to wonder if he can be counted on to be an every-down back for Notre Dame in 2020. His best role in this offense could still be more of a hybrid running back/receiver and not that of a number one back.
Notre Dame lost Tony Jones to the NFL despite Jones having a 5th year available and an uncertain NFL future. Jahmir Smith and C’bo Flemister have flashed at times, but neither has shown enough yet to stake their claim at the top spot in the offense. Kyren Williams was one of Notre Dame’s top targets at running back in the 2019 cycle, but he redshirted as a freshman.
Incoming freshman Chris Tyree is bringing in a lot of hype in June, but his build suggests he might not be ready for a feature role right out of the gates either. Avery Davis might still be in the mix as well, although, after two seasons of flipping between positions, his best place in the Irish offense could also be in more of a hybrid role.
In short, Notre Dame has some bodies at running back but still has a lot to figure out at the position – especially if they want to make a legit run to the playoffs again in 2020.
Where Speights would fit into the mix, though, is also anyone’s guess. He did not record a single carry for Stanford in 2019 and averaged less than 4.0 a carry in his first two seasons on the farm (363 yards on 95 carries for 3.8 ypc). Out of high school, though, he did have offers from Oklahoma, Texas A&M, and Arizona, so Stanford wasn’t the only program to have interest in him in the class of 2017.
Notre Dame is currently just a few scholarships over the 85 limit, and if recent history has taught us anything about Notre Dame’s scholarship situation at this point in the year, it’s that there’s no reason to worry about the 85 limit even if Notre Dame adds another graduate transfer.
Should he ultimately transfer to Notre Dame, he would be the third graduate transfer Notre Dame has taken this year after previously adding Ohio State safety Isaiah Pryor and Northwestern wide receiver Bennett Skowronek.