Notre Dame got some potentially good news as fall camp inches closer and closer today. Reserve defensive tackle Ja’Mion Franklin has reported been cleared to return to action and should be ready for fall camp. If true, one of Notre Dame’s biggest areas of weakness potentially just got quite a bit stronger.
Franklin has been out of action since the Wake Forest game in week four last year with a rather serious quad injury. Matt Freeman from Irish Sports Daily reported the news earlier this evening on Twitter.
A source tells me #NotreDame sophomore DT Ja'mion Franklin has been cleared and will be ready for the start of fall camp.
Franklin suffered a quad tendon injury in week four against Wake Forest last fall. pic.twitter.com/uRHT300tBf
— Matt Freeman (@mattfreemanISD) July 25, 2019
Franklin had been aggressively attacking his rehab all off-season and it has apparently paid off for the sophomore nose tackle.
Depth on the interior of the defensive line is considered one of the biggest question marks for Notre Dame as it gets ready for fall camp. Kurt Hinish and Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa are the locks to replace Jonathan Bonner and Jerry Tillery, but depth behind them is questionable. Franklin helps make that depth a bit more solid.
During spring practice, early enrollee Jacob Lacey was backing up Hinish at NT and sophomore Jayson Ademilola backed up Lord Myron. Behind them though, there was very little available depth. Hunter Spears, another early enrollee was out for spring practice as he recovers from an ACL injury and Franklin was on the sidelines as he was still recovering as well.
Before getting injured last fall, Franklin was one of the pleasant surprises among the 2019 freshman class. He was more than holding his own at NT which is a accomplishment at that particular position. Then he got hurt just as he was earning his first playing time.
Now, just because Franklin is cleared for camp it doesn’t mean that he is going to be thrown right in the fire. His injury was pretty severe and he lost a lot of time in the weight room not to mention a lot of the reps he would have gained last year. Having another able body on the interior of the line though is still a major plus.
Notre Dame is still dangerously thin inside right now, but having Franklin cleared for camp is a big boost for a defensive line featuring three players who missed most of the 2018 season. Tagovailoa-Amosa missed most of 2018 with a foot injury in addition to Franklin and Spears who missed most of his senior year.
Having to rely on a true freshman for snaps each week is still not exactly ideal either, but at least this year that true freshman, Lacey, is an early enrollee. Two years ago Notre Dame was relying on both Hinish and Tagovailoa-Amosa for reps all season long and neither had the benefit of early enrollment.
If Jayson Ademilola is ready for major reps this fall, it wouldn’t be surprising to see he and Tagovailoa-Amosa split reps nearly evenly with Franklin and Lacey splitting the backup reps behind Hinish.
It also been reported this off-season that freshman Howard Cross will likely be apart of the solution for the interior defensive line this year as well.