Notre Dame kicked off spring football for 2023 on Wednesday, and with the start of a new year of Irish football, we learned that six players from the 2022 roster are no longer with the program – Will Schweitzer (LB), Caleb Johnson (OL), Philip Riley (CB), Justin Walters (S), Ron Powlus III (QB), and Josh Bryan (K). Even with the departures, Note Dame is still over 85 scholarships.
Of the six roster subtractions, three were for medical reasons, and three apparently more for football reasons. Will Schweitzer, Ron Powlus III, and Justin Walters all moved to medical scholarships and will stay at Notre Dame. Philip Riley, Caleb Johnson, and Josh Bryan are no longer with the team, and the expectation is they will enter the transfer portal when it opens back up on May 1.
Players Leaving Program
Philip Riley (CB)
When he committed to Notre Dame in 2020, he was the highest-rated corner to commit to the program in years. Despite a big need at corner, however, Riley was passed over by Jaden Mickey and Benjamin Morrison this past fall. He played just six (6) snaps all season long – all of them coming in the Boston College blowout. The path to playing time was likely not there for Riley, given he was passed on the depth chart already – especially with Christian Gray and Micah Bell in the class of 2023.
Caleb Johnson (OL)
Another member of the class of 2021 that signed following the COVID recruiting year that is dwindling down. Johnson saw his classmates Blake Fisher and Joe Alt step into starting roles in 2021, and like Riley, there was not an immediate path to playing time. Alt and Fisher are both possible early departures following this year as likely first-round picks, but to date Johnson hasn’t been able to crack the depth chart. He did not record a snap in all of 2022.
Josh Bryan (K)
It seemed pretty clear that Notre Dame did not feel comfortable with its specialists again this year when they dipped into the transfer portal for their specialists. That marked two years in a row that Bryan was on the roster that Notre Dame went with transfers instead of handing the duties over to Bryan. It should be noted that Bryan was originally recruited by Brian Polian before he followed Brian Kelly to Baton Rouge.
Players On Medical Redshirt
Ron Powlus III (QB)
Notre Dame’s quarterback room suddenly got pretty full, pretty fast, after it was looking pretty bleak back in the fall. It looked like Notre Dame might not add a quarterback – or at least not a highly-ranked one – and that Powlus could be in the mix for a third-string spot on the depth chart. Then Notre Dame landed Kenny Minchey in the class of 2023 and hauled in Sam Hartman in the transfer portal. Had he not landed on medical redshirt, it didn’t seem like there was a path to a role outside of the scout team for Powlus.
Will Schweitzer (LB)
Earlier today, Schweitzer posted on Twitter that he discovered he had a congenital heart condition that was discovered last fall. As a result, Schweitzer did not play a snap in 2022. Schweitzer did play in three games in 2021 and he got some looks as an edge rusher, and you can never have enough pass rushers. With some more development, Schweitzer looked like he had a chance to crack the depth chart.
Justin Walters (S)
Like Philip Riley, Walters’ path to a role in the defense didn’t look that easy. While he was on the roster he saw Notre Dame convert Ramon Henderson from corner to safety and Xavier Watts from linebacker to safety. The safety depth chart was far from stocked over the last two seasons, but Walters couldn’t crack it unfortunately.