When Chris Tyree committed to Notre Dame’s 2020 recruiting class, Brian Kelly added one of the country’s most skilled players. The freshman running back made an immediate impact for the Irish last fall and was a crucial part of propelling the program back into the College Football Playoffs. For Notre Dame to make it back into the playoffs and win a national championship, players such as Tyree must continue to develop and reach their full potential.
Chris Tyree Profile
- Position: Running Back
- Grade: Sophomore
- Hometown: Chester, Virginia
- High School: Thomas Dale
- 2020 Class Ranking: #70 player nationally, #1 all-purpose back according to 247 Sports
- Rushing statistics: 73 attempts, for 496 yards (6.8 yards per carry) with 4 touchdowns
- Receiving statistics: 8 receptions, 65 yards (8.1 yards per catch) with 0 touchdowns
- Kick returns: 29 attempts for 456 yards, longest return was 38 yards
Freshman Year in South Bend
Chris Tyree was too talented to keep off the field last season. Freshman running backs rarely get the number of carries as Tyree did a year ago. Head Coach Brian Kelly typically reserves the bulk of rushes for veteran players, but last season Tyree and Williams controlled the running attack as underclassmen. To say the future is bright for the Irish backfield would be an understatement.
Even though Irish will be looking to rebuild the offensive line in 2021, Notre Dame’s top three running backs from a season ago return to campus. Fortunately, the Irish dominate recruiting along the offensive line and should insert highly capable players into the mix this year.
The Irish running back will look to sharpen his skillset in 2021. The major areas for improvement for Tyree this fall will be in the receiving game and his blocking abilities. Tommy Rees did not utilize the running backs much in the passing attack last fall. However, in the Rose Bowl, the Irish Offensive coordinator targeted Kyren Williams and Chris Tyree more in the passing game. The two running backs combined for 12 catches in the matchup with Alabama.
Pass protection will be a significant point of focus this year for Tyree. At times, Kyren Williams had the burden of being on the field as an elite pass protector. If Chris Tyree can continue to develop, he will undoubtedly see more reps this fall.
Chris Tyree is a game wrecker for the Fighting Irish. Last season, it often took the Notre Dame Offense 10+ plays to get into the endzone. The program’s physicality is unmistakable; however, there is something to be said for scoring quick touchdowns. All four of the Alabama Crimson Tide touchdowns against the Irish were under three minutes.
Chris Tyree can give the Fighting Irish these quick scores because it is hard to maintain long drives throughout an entire matchup.
With elite speed, the Irish tailback is destined to run back a kickoff. Luckily, the Notre Dame Defense was elite last season, and the Irish did not get many opportunities to return kickoffs. Fans have already seen Tyree break out in the open field on a rushing play, but they should expect to see the sophomore running back return a kickoff all the way this season.
Notre Dame Skill Positions
Elite combo with starter Kyren Williams. Notre Dame may have the most talented running back room since Brian Kelly took over in South Bend. Kyren Williams is expected to be one of the best backs in the country next fall, while Chris Tyree can reach that same level.
Williams will be the clear starter in 2021, but Tyree must continue to develop so the Irish tailbacks can be fresh for another playoff run.
What will the Irish Offense look like this fall? As I mentioned earlier, Notre Dame may look to utilize the passing attack more this season. No matter the year, fans will always grumble about the balance of running and passing attempts. Nevertheless, after watching the Clemson Offense in the ACC Championship Game and Alabama attack in the Rose Bowl, it is essential to get the ball in space to playmakers at receiver.
Notre Dame returns a talented receiving core along with quarterback Jack Coan who has a strong arm and went 236 for 339 (70%) in 2019 as the Wisconsin quarterback before an injury kept him sidelined last season.
The sophomore running back will be electrifying in 2021. Every time the Irish running back touches the football, he is a home run threat. Look for Tommy Rees to get the ball to him in various ways this fall. Tyree is one of the fastest players in the country, and if he is even parallel with a defender, they are not catching him. As the saying goes, “You can’t coach speed.”
Skill players like Tyree will put the Irish over the top. As I have mentioned in previous articles, the skill positions were the major difference between Notre Dame and the other College Football Playoff teams. The physicality the Fighting Irish present helped get them into the playoffs, but to win a national title in this era of college football, they must showcase their offensive potential.