Roster Shuffling Begins: Trio of Notre Dame Players Enter Transfer Portal

With Notre Dame’s season officially over, the off-season roster churn has begun at Notre Dame. Saturday, we learned that at least three 2020 scholarship players for the Irish have decided to enter the transfer portal – all reserves looking for fresh starts and opportunities for more playing time. We also learned, though, that starting nose tackle Kurt Hinish is expected to return for a 5th year thanks to the NCAA’s decision to grant a free year of eligibility to all college football athletes this fall.

Here’s a quick look at the three soon to be former Golden Domers who have entered the transfer portal.

Jafar Armstrong

Two years ago, it looked like Jafar Armstrong would be Notre Dame’s lead running back for a couple of years. Injuries, unfortunately, derailed a promising 2018 season and then bit him again in 2019. This season Armstrong became such an afterthought in the Notre Dame running game that he moved back to wide receiver – the position he was initially recruited for – in mid-season.

After averaging 5.3 yards per carry on 72 attempts in 2018, a hobbled Armstrong struggled to average just 2.7 yards a carry last year on 46 attempts. This year, Armstrong ran the ball only 17 times, netting 8 yards despite being seemingly healthier than he had been in two years.

Notre Dame fans will never forget Armstrong for his two touchdown performance in the 2018 opener against Michigan. A game Michigan fans tried to rewrite history on throughout the entire 2018 season. Thank you for that performance forever, Jafar.

Armstrong referred to himself as a wide receiver in his social media post announcing his transfer, so it sounds like he is looking t reinvent himself as a receiver.

Jahmir Smith

Another running back who fell out of the rotation earlier this year, Jahmir Smith, has entered the transfer portal as well. Smith left the team earlier this year to focus on his mental health and had not been with the team for a couple of months.

Smith had some good moments in his time at Notre Dame but leaves the program with just 223 yards and two career touchdowns. Both of those scores came in the 2019 season opener when Armstrong went down with the abdominal injury that derailed his season.

The emergence of Kyren Williams and Chris Tyree had Smith buried on the Notre Dame depth chart. With Audric Estime already signed in the class of 2021, the Irish should be fine numbers-wise at running back in 2021, assuming Logan Diggs ultimately signs with the Irish.

Colin Grunhard

Colin Grunhard, son of former Notre Dame great and long-time NFL OL Tim Grunhard, came to Notre Dame as a walk-on but earned a scholarship last year following the season. He spent time listed as the backup center, but even when Jarrett Patterson was lost for the season, Grunhard didn’t see any meaningful snaps for the Irish.

Notre Dame could be replacing as many as four offensive linemen in 2021, depending on some linemen’s decisions. Even then, Grunhard did not factor into any of the battles for starting roles in 2021.

Expect a lot more movement with the Notre Dame roster over the next few weeks. With the free year of eligibility from the NCAA and the new waiver free transfer rule that is expected to be passed, we’ll see a lot of movement on everyone’s rosters – not just Notre Dame’s.

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  1. It’ll be interesting to see how many ND players take the free year offered and return (like reportedly Hinish) compared to other top 15 teams. I don’t expect the better players to defer their dreams to play on Sundays, thus excluding the few who are solid draft choice possibilities. Those players returning to their teams next season, cashing in on the chance to play another season of college football, would be those from schools who believe returning will help both them and their teams and it could be a sign that those who return have faith that their coaches and programs are on the rise. I will stay tuned to those decisions.

    1. There is only one name I do not want to see on that list, the guy who’s playbook contains maybe just 2 or 3 more plays than Pyne’s, the guy who has won, but cannot ever win the big one, Buh, buh, buh, buh…Book.
      You realize, while everyone chastises Kelly for losing those 8 very important post season games, and I am one, he had help in most of those by the name of Book. Rewatch the Clemson and Alabama games, besides his indecision’s, the guy has to wind up to throw 15 yds downfield. That’s gotta put a crimp in Kelly-Rees’ game plan.
      I’m encouraged in seeing the hugs Book got exiting Friday’s game, good-bye hugs?
      Pro FB next year? Not a f-n chance! More likely Asst to QB coach, Power-less.

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