Brian Kelly Defines Hybrid Role for Notre Dame LB/RB Osita Ekwonu

A couple of weeks ago, one of the few roster developments we had this summer was the moving of sophomore Ositas Ekwonu and wide receiver Kendall Abdur-Rahim to running back. On Thursday, Kelly clarified that Ekwonu was cross-trained at both running back and linebacker this summer for a specific package of plays.

“Osita was going to be a niche player for us on offense,” Kelly told the media on Thursday. “I’ll define niche player as a short-yardage back, a goalline back,” he clarified.

While Ekwonu was getting work at running back he was never exclusively working on offense and will continue to be a linebacker first for the Fighting Irish.

“He never really left the linebacking corps,” Kelly said. “He’s been cross-trained at the position and will continue to spend most of his time with the linebackers. If we’re breaking down the depth chart he is still with the linebackers and continues to work exclusively now with the linebackers.”

That doesn’t mean, however, that we won’t see Ekwonu at running back this fall. “We’ve given him enough work at running back in camp that the couple of plays we needed for, he’s tuned in for so if we needed to get into that package, he’s ready to go,” Kelly said.

Given the profile of all of Notre Dame’s primary running backs, it’s not surprising that they looked for a short-yard and goal-line back. There isn’t a back on the roster right now who could fill the Tony Jones Jr role from a year ago. Kyren Williams, though not overly big, does have a bit of a bowling ball style of running though so depending on the situation it would make sense for him to be used in some of those situations first.

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