Notre Dame started spring football for 2021 over the weekend and for a 14 early enrollees, it was their first taste of college football. With all of the new names and numbers this spring, we broke down what number each is wearing along with a little history behind each.
#11 Ron Powlus III (QB)
The late addition to Notre Dame’s class of 2021 gets the same number his offensive coordinator, Tommy Rees, wore during the latter portion of his Notre Dame football career after starting off in #13. Like Rees, Powlus is a lower-rated prospect who primarily had MAC offers coming out of high school.
Some other recent players who wore #11 outside of the quarterback room include wide receiver Bennett Skowronek just last year, along with defensive end Ishaq Williams and wide receiver David Grimes.
Defensively, rising sophomore corner Ramon Henderson also wears #11.
#12 Tyler Buchner (QB)
Like Powlus, Tyler Buchner is wearing a number recently worn by a record-setting Notre Dame quarterback. Buchner takes over the #12 jersey that Ian Book wore while becoming the winningest quarterback in the history of Notre Dame football. Buchner also wore #12 in high school.
Book wasn’t the only recent quarterback to wear #12 at Notre Dame, though. Brandon Wimbush started his Notre Dame career wearing the #12 before switching over to #7.
Outside of quarterbacks, two running backs reminded me of #12 – one of whom is a bit more recognizable. Ricky Watters wore 12 before becoming one of the best running backs in the NFL during the 19990’s. In the late 90s, Tony Fisher wore number 12 with a bit less fanfare.
Currently, safety DJ also wears #12 for the Fighting Irish.
#15 Ryan Barnes (CB)
The cornerback out of California gets a number that has had a bit of a mixed bag of results at Notre Dame. Pat Terrell and Allen Rossum both wore #15 before being drafted and have relatively successful NFL careers. Clifford Jefferson, a player who usually comes to mind when discussing 5-star talent who didn’t live up to the hype, wore #15. However, Jefferson eventually rebound later in his Notre Dame career and did not play nearly as bad as some Notre Dame fans think.
Outside of defensive back, Kevin McDougal nearly led the Fighting Irish to a national championship in 1993, wearing #15. Currently, rising sophomore Jordan Johnson also wears #15.
#20 Justin Walters
Justin Walters starts his Notre Dame career donning the #20 jersey worn by perhaps the greatest defensive back in Notre Dame history – Luther Bradley. Bradley was a consensus All-American as a leader for the national champion Fighting Irish in 1977. Bradley was also the #11 overall player in Notre Dame football history in our countdown of the top 25 players in program history a few years back.
Gerome Sapp from the early 2000s and more recently Shaun Crawford wore #20 in the Fighting Irish’s defensive backfield.
Offensively, C’bo Flemister wears #20 for Notre Dame as well.
#21 Lorenzo Styles (WR)
Wide receiver Lorenzo Styles wore #3 in high school, but 5th year senior Avery Davis currently holds that number. Perhaps Styles switches after Davis moves on, but for now, he’ll wear #21. The first wide receiver most will remember is Maurice Stovall, but there’s another receiver from the late 90s that also worse #21 who is quite a bit more similar to Styles – Javin Hunter. Hunter was one of the poster children for wasted offensive talent during the Bob Davie era. Hopefully, Styles’ speed and athleticism are utilized much more than Hunter’s was.
Outside of receivers, a couple of defensive backs come to mind, including Bobby Taylor, the 2nd round pick of the Philadelphia Eagles in 1994, and more recently, safety Jalen Elliott.
Rising sophomore Caleb Offord also wears #21 for Notre Dame.
#25 Philip Riley (CB)
The #25 at Notre Dame is generally associated with speed thanks to the most famous player ever to wear it at Notre Dame – Rocket Ismail – but it’s typically meant that on the offensive side of the ball. Braden Lenzy wore #25 before switching to #0 in 2020. Jafar Armstrong started his career as #25 at Notre Dame before later switching to #8.
Tony Driver bounced back and forth between running back and defensive back during his career at Notre Dame, wearing #25 in the late 90s. Currently, speedster sophomore running back Chris Tyree also wears 25.
#44 Devin Aupiu (DE)
Devin Aupui came to Notre Dame as a lean but raw defensive end and will start his career with perhaps the perfect jersey number based on that description. Justin Tuck came to Notre Dame under-recruited and raw but left as the program’s all-time leader in sacks while wearing #44 in the early 2000s.
Thom Gatewood, the greatest wide receiver in program history from before the offensive explosion of the 2000s, wore #44 at Notre Dame. Fullback Marc Edwards, a fan favorite from the late 90s, also wore the number on offense. More recently, Jamir Jones had a productive career for the Irish at defensive end.
Current long snapper Alex Peitsch also wears #44 for the Irish.
#48 Will Schweitzer (DE)
Will Schweitzer will a number that doesn’t get worn a lot these days, but was fairly recently by linebacker Greer Martini. However, the most famous #48 in program history was a good one – Heisman Trophy winner Angelo Bertelli.
No one else on the current Notre Dame roster wears #48.
#50 Rocco Spindler (OG)
One of Notre Dame’s highest-rated recruits for the class of 2021 will be wearing a number a number we don’t typically see from offensive linemen. Dan Santucci wore #50 in the early 2000s, but it hasn’t been worn all that much since.
There is not another member of the 2021 squad wearing #50 at the moment.
#54 Blake Fisher (OL)
Notre Dame’s other top 100 OL picked a number we haven’t seen a ton of offensive linemen wear for Notre Dame as well. In the late 90s, Luke Petigout wore #54 before becoming a 1st round pick of the New York Giants, but there haven’t been many notable linemen to wear it since then.
Long snapper John Shannon wore the number up until he graduated following the 2019 season, and currently, nose tackle Jacob Lacey wore
#72 Caleb Johnson (OL)
Sticking on the offensive line, Caleb Johnson takes over Robert Hainsey’s #72 after the Notre Dame captain wore it for the last four years. Before Hainsey, recent Notre Dame OL Nick Martin wore #72 before becoming a third-round pick of the Houston Texans. Hainsey is currently getting ready for the NFL Draft and could project in the same range as Martin.
#80 Cane Berrong (TE)
Tight end Cane Berrong will be sporting Tyler Eifert’s old #80 to start his Notre Dame career. The number had been occupied by wide receiver Micah Jones until earlier this year when he entered his name into the transfer portal. Jones ultimately transferred to Illinois State. Hopefully, Berrong’s career trends more towards Eiftert’s, the former 1st round pick, than Jones’s.
#88 Mitchell Evans (TE)
Fellow tight end Mitchell Evans takes over a number with some good long-term and short-term history. Anthony Fasano started the run of tight ends to the NFL from Notre Dame that helped the Irish earned the moniker Tight End U while wearing #88. The New Jersey native had a long and productive NFL career following his graduation from Notre Dame in 2005.
More recently, Javon McKinley led Notre Dame in receiving a year ago as a 5th year senior after a slow start to begin his career. McKinley is currently getting ready for the NFL Draft.
#97 Gabriel Rubio (DT)
Finally, Gabriel Rubio will wear the same #97 as Notre Dame great Bryant Young. Young was an All-American for Notre Dame before becoming a 1st round pick of the San Francisco 49ers in the 1994 NFL Draft. Young went on to have a Hall of Fame-worthy career though he is still waiting for his call to Canton.
More recently, Micah Dew-Treadway wore #97 for the Fighting Irish before transferring to Minnesota to end his career