Spring football is usually the time of year to experiment with some position switches and new roles for players. One of the most significant that we learned about yesterday as Notre Dame started spring football was Chris Tyree working at receiver after spending the last three seasons almost exclusively at running back.
When Marcus Freeman was asked about Tyree at receiver yesterday, he wouldn’t say whether or not this is a permanent move or more tinkering. “It’s to be determined if permanent,” Freeman stated.
Tyree was already working with wide receiver Chansi Stuckey in practice yesterday.
The move makes a ton of sense. Since day one, the big question for Tyree was always, can he be an every-down, between-the-tackles runner. His game is all about speed. When he gets into space, he’s gone. The problem the last two years was that the Notre Dame offense rarely got him the ball in play.
“He has multiple skill sets, and Chris Tyree is someone we need on the football field. We can put him at wideout. We know what we he can do as a running back. He can do multiple things,” Freeman said on Wednesday.
Despite a career-high 100 carries last year, Tyree was still unable to top his 2020 freshman rushing totals. He did slightly improve on his disappointing 4.0 yards per carry average from 2021, with 4.4 last season, but that was still well off his impressive freshman average of 6.8. His touchdowns were up year over year as well, but he still had as many touchdowns as a frosh in 2020 as he’s had the last two years combined.
Tyree’s receiving stats took a dip in 2022 as well. He equaled his 2021 reception total of 24, but he averaged just 5.8 yards a catch compared to 10.8 in 2021. Part of that was a product of the offense Notre Dame was forced to utilize with Drew Pyne at quarterback that saw a lot of defenders near the line of scrimmage, which took away a lot of the screens and quick hitters Tyree thrives at.
“You’re seeing that in college and in the NFL. You see guys who can play multiple spots on offense. Is he a wideout? Is he a running back?” Freeman said of Tyree yesterday. “We have to do that to gain confidence in him with the quarterbacks. He has shown a skill-set to be a receiver at this level, and we can use him at multiple different positions.”
As a reminder, here is what we’ve seen Tyree be capable of as a receiver back in 2021.
Chris Tyree in a hybrid role ala Debo Samuel for the San Francisco Forty Whinner, err sorry, 49ers (GO BIRDS), makes a ton of sense. We shouldn’t be seeing Chris Tyree running between the tackles as much, but we should see him getting the ball on the perimeter on jet sweeps and in the passing game, where he can get matched up with a linebacker or safety that he can blow right past. For Tyree, a hybrid role also makes his NFL resume look much more enticing to NFL talent evaluators.
Notre Dame has more than enough depth at running back right now for Tyree to be utilized in this capacity as well. Logan Diggs and Audric Estime give Notre Dame a tremendous two-headed monster while sophomore Jadarian Price – who some felt was the best running back on the roster last spring – returns from injury. Add in sophomore Gi’Bran Price, and incoming freshman Jeremiyah Love and Notre Dame has more than enough options to not need Tyree as a primary running back either.