As Notre Dame makes final preparations for its Sun Bowl matchup with Oregon State on Friday, Notre Dame fans are about to get a heavy dose of some younger players who may not have played prominent roles throughout the season. The Irish will be without multiple starters and depth players – as every team that isn’t in the playoffs is these days – opening the door for others to step up who figure to have prominent roles in 2024 and beyond. Here are a few of them.
Steve Angeli (QB)
The most obvious youngster Notre Dame fans will get a glimpse of on Friday is the new QB1 – at least for the day. Sam Hartman opting out opened the door for Angeli to get the start before Duke transfer Riley Leonard arrives on campus. Angeli was solid in mop-up duty this fall but will get his first taste of snaps against a starting defense – or at least what is left of Oregon State’s defense after opt-outs and transfers.
It’ll be interesting to see what Angeli can do with a patchwork line and all the losses at receiver to the portal earlier this month. Notre Dame’s QB room is in an interesting place right now, with CJ Carr on campus and Leonard arriving soon.
Boubacar Traore (DE)
The freshman pass rusher only played 17 snaps in 4 games this fall, but in those limited snaps, he graded out at 91.7 on PFF – the highest season total for any defender. Granted, it was a VERY limited sample size, but it was clear in limited action that he has a ton of raw talent. It was also very clear that he had a lot of learning to do after he celebrated his lone sack of the year against USC while the clock was still running forcing Marcus Freeman to call a time-out. Time would have run out on USC had it not been for Traore’s mental lapse, and it ultimately cost the Irish 3 points after USC nailed the field goal.
Traore saw just six snaps after his snafu against USC the rest of the season – all in the blowout of Pitt. However, with Nana Osafo Mensah transferring, there will be rotational snaps along the defensive line. It would be wise of Al Golden to see what the talented pass rusher can do.
Jaylen Sneed (LB)
Sneed logged 20 or more snaps in each of the first four games of the season, then didn’t top 20 snaps again until the season finale against Stanford. The former 5-star recruit flashed at times but wasn’t consistent throughout the season. In 199 total snaps, Sneed recorded just 14 total tackles with one sack.
With Marist Liufau opting out of the bowl game (despite being projected as a late-round pick at best), Sneed moves into the starting lineup with Jack Kiser sliding over to WILL. Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah had his breakthrough performance in the 2019 Camping World Bowl with 4 tackles for loss and 3 sacks. Perhaps a similar breakout performance is in the cards for Sneed? JOK had more of an impact during that year’s regular season, but the two are very similar athletes.
Charles Jagusah (LT)
Jagusah played just 5 total snaps this season – all in the finale against Stanford – but is locked in as the starting left tackle for the Sun Bowl. With Joe Alt and Blake Fisher headed to the NFL, Notre Dame will have two new starting tackles in 2024, so this dress rehearsal for Jaguash is a huge opportunity to stake his claim on the LT position heading into the off-season.
It’s rare for a true freshman who played so little in the regular season to be given such a position for the bowl game, but with increasing transfers and opt-outs, this will probably become commonplace in college football.
Jordan Faison (WR)
After starting the season on LAX scholarship, Faison forced his way onto the football field and ended up finishing as the fourth-highest-graded offensive player on the season per PFF behind Audric Estime, Joe Alt, and Angeli. Faison has speed to burn – something currently lacking within the Notre Dame wide receiving corps.
Faison ended the season with touchdowns in back to back contests, including a 45-yarder against Stanford. Notre Dame added two receivers via the portal this month in, Kris Mitchell and Beaux Collins, and is on the hunt for a third so the wide receiver room at Notre Dame is going to look much different in the spring making the bowl game important for Faison and all of the other receivers returning in 2024.
Jaden Greathouse (WR)
Greathouse started his freshman season with a bang, with two touchdowns in the season opener, but was slowed by injuries throughout the year. After recording catches in each of the first five games, Greathouse didn’t have any in the next five. He hauled in four for 86 yards and two touchdowns over the final two games of the year, however.
Where Greathouse fits in the mix next year with the additions will be interesting to watch in the spring, but for the bowl game, it will just be nice to see a fully rested and healthy Greathouse again.
Eli Raridon (TE)
Raridon made his season debut against Louisville after suffering the second ACL injury of his career last year. However, Raridon didn’t record a catch until the Wake Forest game, when he had three catches for 39 yards and a touchdown. With Mitchell Evans out injured and Holden Staes gone after entering the portal earlier this month, Raridon is in line for a starting gig. He played a career-high 51 snaps against Stanford in the finale.
Evans will be back in 2024, but Raridon could stake his claim for the second tight end spot in the Irish offense.
Jeremiyah Love (RB)
With Audric Estime opting out of the bowl game as he prepares for the NFL Draft, freshman Jeremiyah Love is in line for the start. Love flashed almost every opportunity he was given throughout the season, and he has a very bright future. He isn’t the bruising running back that Estime is, but with his speed and elusiveness, Love has the potential to be every bit as exciting as Estime was for the Irish the last few years.
Love averaged 6.2 yards per carry over the year but might have tougher going in the Sun Bowl given the changes to Notre Dame’s offensive line for the game. Still, it shouldn’t surprise anyone if Love is able to break a long run or two against a depleted Beaver defense.