With Notre Dame set to open the season in just a few days, I realized there were a number of players who didn’t get much ink this summer that will have an impact on Notre Dame’s win/loss totals this year. So I wanted to change that today. Here are eight players who weren’t discussed a whole lot this summer who maybe should have been.
Chris Finke – WR
There’s been a lot of talk about all of the talent Notre Dame has at wide receiver this summer. Between Equanimeous St. Brown, Chase Claypoool, Miles Boykin, Cameron Smith, Javon McKinley, and Michael Young we’ve talked a lot about other receivers. We even talked at length about the lack of playing time for Kevin Stepherson.
But we haven’t talked much about Chris Finke. He won’t start and he’ll fight for every rep, but something tells me that Finke is gonna make a couple big plays for Notre Dame this fall. The kid runs great routes and catches everything thrown his way. He is made to play in the slot and showed at the end of last year he can be productive against good teams. It also looks like Finke will be the top punt returner after flashing some skills in that department last year.
If we were counting on big time contributions from Finke I would be worried, but since he is just one of many players in the rotation at wide receiver I’m interested to see what he does this year for Notre Dame. If nothing else, he gives Notre Dame a sure handed punt returner who can make people miss.
Tevon Coney – LB
I’ve been a big fan of Coney for a while and think he was woefully underrated in our top 25 player poll that ran here last week. It looks like he is the 2nd option at both MIKE and BUCK this year but I still say he gets on the field a lot this fall. Against any team that runs an uptempo offense, it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see him in the starting lineup actually.
Next fall might be when we finally see Coney fully unleashed after Morgan and Martini both graduate but he is an important member of the 2017 defense because of the versatility he brings to the defense.
Khalid Kareem – DE
When it comes to the strong-side defensive end position, a lot of time was spent talking about whether or not Jay Hayes could play inside and the resurgence of Andrew Trumbetti, but not much has been spent on sophomore DE Khalid Kareem. Maybe we all should have though. Kareem was not quite as heralded as Daelin Hayes, but remember, this is a kid that was committed to Alabama before he flipped to Notre Dame. Now a sophomore, Kareem will be in the rotation and will be the future at SDE for Notre Dame.
Ade Ogundeji – DE
Speaking of DE’s we haven’t talked about that much, fellow sophomore Ade Ogundeji hasn’t gotten as much buzz as Daelin Hayes or Julian Okwara but he has quietly had a nice camp and could be in line for a regular role in the rotation at WDE. This is a kid who came to Notre Dame really, really raw; but he reportedly has started to develop well this summer. Ogundeji isn’t going to jump Hayes this fall but his development this fall is very important for Notre Dame down the road. With three years of eligibility left after this year, Notre Dame could get a lot of really good football out of Ogundeji.
CJ Sanders – WR
Another wide receiver who isn’t getting much discussion this summer. I think we’ve seen that Sanders isn’t the kind of wide receiver who will be a chain mover or maybe even a starter, but we’ve also seen that he is the kind of receiver that needs to get the ball in his hands in space. When Notre Dame gets him the ball in space he makes plays. With all of the quick passes in Chip Long’s offense and all of the dependency on run after the catch I wonder if we’re all missing the boat a bit on Sanders here. Remember that touchdown against Texas? That kind of play is a staple in Chip Long’s offense.
We’ve also seen over the last two years that Sanders is a dynamic kick returner who is a threat to take back any kick to the house.
Deon McIntosh – RB
Last summer McIntosh made some highlight reel catches in camp as he moonlighted a bit at wide receiver. He is a full time running back now with four years of eligibility left. With Josh Adams, Dexter Williams, and Tony Jones Jr all ahead of him, he isn’t going to see the field this year unless Notre Dame is either up really big or if things go really wrong. That said, this is a really good football player who would be in line for a much bigger role if he had been on the roster in some other years without such a stacked depth chart ahead of him. Like Ogundeji, McIntosh’s development is important this year.
Robert Hainsey – OT
The freshman early enrollee will apparently not be wearing a redshirt this year. Brian Kelly announced last week that Hainsey will play this year and it looks like he will be a backup at right tackle for the Irish. In actuality, Liam Eichenberg might be the first tackle off the bench at either left or right tackle, but Hainsey is still in the two deep and could be in the starting lineup next fall already.
Isaiah Robertson – S
Another early enrollee. There’s been more talk about Jordan Genmark-Heath lately, but people shouldn’t sleep on Isaiah Robertson. The frosh might eventually grow into a ROVER but with the uncertainty at safety for Notre Dame, Robertson could find himself on the field this fall pretty easily even if he wasn’t one of the freshmen who Kelly said last week were “off the bubble.”