The sports news cycle is going to be pretty slow for the next few weeks with every major professional and collegiate sport – including Notre Dame spring football – essentially shut down right now during the COVID-19 pandemic, but there was a bit of college football news late Friday night that could be relevant for Notre Dame. Oklahoma running back, Trey Sermon announced he was entering the transfer portal. Notre Dame has to do whatever it can to be a player here.
— Trey Sermon (@treyera) March 14, 2020
Sermon has played the last three seasons for Sooners racking up 2,076 yards on 339 carries (6.1 yards per carry) with 22 touchdowns. In 2018 alone, he ran for 947 yards and 13 touchdowns. His numbers fell off in 2019 due to a leg injury limiting him to just 385 yards on 54 carries, but that is still a 7.1 yards per carry average.
To be clear, as of right now, there has been no indication that Notre Dame is a player here or if Sermon is interested in Notre Dame. That said, Notre Dame has to do whatever it can to become a player in Sermon’s “rerecruitment.” Running back is a significant need for Notre Dame in 2020 with Tony Jones Jr preparing for the NFL and a running back room short on experience and explosiveness (at the moment anyway).
Early rumors on Twitter have indicated that Ohio State will be a major player here as the Buckeyes also have a significant need at running back in 2020 with JK Dobbins leaving early for the NFL and injuries leaving question marks at the position for them.
Even with Chris Tyree enrolling the summer for Notre Dame, adding a running back like Sermon would be beyond huge for the Notre Dame. We also know that Notre Dame is already interested in adding a running back transfer. The Irish have been pursuing Stanford’s Trevor Speights, and there were plans for him to visit Notre Dame this spring before the NCAA paused all recruiting efforts during the coronavirus pandemic.
Notre Dame did recruit and offer Sermon out of high school in 2016, but at the time, the Irish were not able to become a finalist. That was with Autry Denson as the Notre Dame running backs coach whose recruiting shortcomings we’ve discussed quite a bit here over the last few years. With current running backs coach Lance Taylor, however, perhaps the Irish can get involved here and become a player.
If Notre Dame were able to add a running back of Sermon’s caliber for the 2020 season, it could change the trajectory of the Irish offense this fall. Notre Dame has some good looking backs, and Tyree brings speed that the position hasn’t had in years, but we just don’t know if the Irish have a go-to every-down back right now. There are questions regarding Jafar Armstrong’s durability, and the other backs all have questions surrounding them as well.
How this all plays out given the current landscape of college football with the NCAA suspending all on-campus and off-campus recruiting until April 15 – for now, who knows if that ends up getting extended.
When they are allowed to, Notre Dame needs to be all over this. Even if they get turned down, there is no reason for the Irish coaching staff not to pursue Trey Sermon.