Notre Dame Running Deep and Talented at RB

Greg Bryant - Notre Dame RB
Greg Bryant, seen above practicing at the US Army All American Bowl in January, is one of several highly rated running backs the Notre Dame coaching staff has recruited in the last few years. (Photo: John Albright / IconSMI)

Running back depth is a hot topic for Notre Dame fans heading into the 2013 season.  With the work Brian Kelly and his staff have done at the position though, it won’t be a concern Notre Dame fans will be having at the position very much in the future.

With the commitment of North Carolina native Elijah Hood, Notre Dame has recruited 5-star running backs in back to back classes for the first time since star ratings became all the rage over the last 10 years.  Hood joins 2013 signee Greg Bryant as a 5-star back mate on the Irish roster.

Throw in 4-star back Tarean Folston and Notre Dame has three backs  brimming with so much potential that most years any one of them by themselves would have Notre Dame giddy.

Remember when Notre Dame used to sign backs like Junior Jabbie and Travis Thomas?  No disrespect to either as both played important roles at Notre Dame over the years – and in the case of Thomas played woefully out of position since some previous staffs couldn’t recruit defensive players to save their lives, or jobs for that matter – but it has been a long time since Notre Dame has had this type of success recruiting at the running back position.

When Hood reports to campus next year, the Irish stable of backs will look something like this:

That is 6 running backs, all of whom were at least 4-star prospects coming out of high school.  All with different skillsets and the ability to hurt defense in different ways.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is how you build championship caliber depth at a position.

Kelly and his staff still have some work to do at a few positions, but you would be hard pressed to find a position that is not deeper and more talented than it was when Kelly inherited it 4 years ago.  In fact, some positions are so much better off four years later that any comparison is laughable.

Defensive line?  A completely different world.  Offensive line?  Injuries really hurt depth last year, but 5 incoming freshmen and 2 commitments for next year already as the OL deeper than it’s been in years.

Notre Dame suddenly landing 5-star recruits with frequency is not too coincidentally aligning with the success Kelly and his staff have had on the field.  Even with the rough loss to Alabama in the National Championship game, the Irish are seeing the benefits from last year’s 12-0 regular season.  Since completing the regular season perfect last year, Notre Dame has received commitments from four 5-star recruits – three last year in Eddie Vanderdoes, Max Redfield, and Bryant and now a fourth this year with Hood’s commitment.

In years past Notre Dame could routinely go four years without landing that many 5-star talents.  They hauled in that impressive quartet in just under five months.

At running back, Kelly and staff have been able to continue to bring in elite talent, even with other elite players on the depth chart.  That too is a sign of a championship caliber team.  In years past Notre Dame would have a hard time landing elite players in back to back years at many positions because playing time was the main selling point for previous coaching regimes.

Notre Dame fans often wondered how other schools would stock pile elite players year after year.  Well, the answer is becoming abundantly clear.  Win.  It seems easy enough but as Notre Dame struggled to win consistently over the last two decades it has been a difficult concept to accept for many Notre Dame fans who became accustomed to the Irish struggling on the field.

For Kelly to keep this level of recruiting success going, he will need to continue to produce the results we saw in the regular season on a consistent basis.  Charlie Weis had a couple nice seasons and subsequently a few really good classes but when the on field results stopped coming, the Super Bowl rings, the NFL connections, and everything else that helped secure some strong classes for him weren’t enough to allure the top talent anymore.

Even with bringing in two great backs last year though, Notre Dame was able to add another 5-star talent at the position already this year.

Notre Dame Has Depth to Handle Equanimeous St. Brown's NFL Departure

The next position I hope to this staff establish the same level of success is wide receiver.  I love the class that Notre Dame brought in at wide receiver last year – specifically Corey Robinson and Torii Hunter, Jr.  If Hunter recovers completely I think Notre Dame got a couple of stud receivers there.  Receiver on the whole, however, has been the one area where this staff has not had as much success as they’ve had in other areas.

An unsettled quarterback through the first few years under Kelly may have played a role in elite wide receivers flocking to Notre Dame just yet, but given this staff’s ability to recruit against the big boys and the maturation of Everett Golson and the Notre Dame passing game, the day elite wide receivers are knocking down Notre Dame’s door might not no too far off into the future.

For now though, it is really hard to be anything but thoroughly happy with the results this staff has been producing on the recruiting front.

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  1. SteelfanRob 5 years ago


    I appreciate what you are trying to say and do for and with these anti-ND trolls. I really do. However, realize you’re being played by these trolls who aren’t really interested in civilized discourse. They just want to agitate us and get us at each others’ throats. Sadly, it seems that Ron and Ted have succeeded in this case. (Of course, the kinds of losers that would be on an ND site to agitate is beyond words to describe! That’s not censorious or hateful, duranko, just the truth!)

    What’s more, I certainly don’t appreciate my Christian faith questioned or caricatured, especially by someone with whom I’ve conversed with outside this site about things of the Lord, for the sake of a few cheap rhetorical points scored against our ND brethren. I respect you and your faith too much, duranko, to let you get away with this slight against my faith (not to mention the faith of our other brethren here).

    Benedictus benedicat!

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  2. SteelfanRob 5 years ago


    Rather than turn venomous on each other, can I suggest we call out the trolls and ND haters. To do so is neither vainglorious, censorious, or dubious (as in dubious Christian). I, for one, simply wanted to know more about who Ted Peters was and what exactly he was trying to say in his cryptic post. I apologize to Ted if I offended him but he has to know that his post was offensive to many of us.

    I have a lot of respect for Shaz, JC, and duranko. We haven’t always agreed amongst each other and no doubt will disagree again about this or that. But I know all of you are Blue and Gold through and through. I think we sometimes misunderstand each other as a result of this medium. And even when we understand each other perfectly well, we often let our disagreements become over the top. I have been as guilty of this as others. Sometimes I’ve been with JC against Shaz, at other times I’ve been with Shaz against duranko. Sometimes I’ve been with duranko against Shaz and JC. Etc., etc., etc. Sometimes I’ve been by myself against everyone else here. No doubt Shaz, JC, and duranko have at times felt the same way. No doubt many of you here have felt that way too at times. That’s just the way things are on sites like this where passionate and smart football people gather.

    I just wonder if we could at least from time to time form a unified front against the trolls and save our best zingers for them. Yes, we should also turn the other cheek as well occasionally, but for the most part we should be ready to also give an account of the hope we have.

    Of course, I’m not trying to dictate anything to anyone here. There are too many of us here for any one of us to dictate terms to. Just know that I do appreciate the passion and wit of the likes of duranko, JC, and Shaz.

    GO IRISH!!!

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    1. JC 5 years ago

      Amen Rob,

      Mark 11:25 “And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”

      Peace be with you, Rob, Shaz, duranko and all on this site.

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  3. Shazamrock 5 years ago

    Given serious reflection, there is something to be said for duranko’s “Dubious Christian Merit”

    The good Fathers and Sisters of the Archdiocese did teach me to “turn the other cheek” in the face of aggession.

    So in the spirit of brotherhood, and the knowledge that Music sooths the savage beast that dwells inside each of us.

    I offer up this little ditty.

    (I got it from that movie “The Green Mile” where John Cofie (Like the drink but spelled different) is granted a final wish before he rides the Lightning, and goes to the flicker picture show)

    (anaone anatwo anaone anatwo,,)

    I’m in heaven
    And my heart beats
    So that I can hardly speak..
    And I seem to find
    The happiness I seek
    When we disagree but still turn the other cheek

    I’m in heaven
    And the cares
    That hung around me
    Through the week…
    Seem to vanish
    Like a gamblers
    Lucky streak…
    When we can argue on this blog, but turn the other cheek.

    I love to climb a mountain
    And to reach the highest peak…
    But it doesn’t thrill me
    Half as much
    trading jabs with a freak

    I’m in Heaven…
    Dumde dum de doo dee dee de dee dedeeeeee
    Da de da da da daa de da de deeeek
    When we learn to turn the other cheeeeeeeek!

    Thank you…

    “I believe the cheese has slid off that boys’ cracker”

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  4. Shazamrock 5 years ago

    Bless me father for I have sinned.

    Sorry if I offended thee Father duranko.

    Please absolve me of my pass transgressions for which I have sinned.

    Didn’t think a slightly humorous retort would bring the rath of overreactive political correctness and another dose of your famous religious soap-boxing.

    Speaking of religious soap-boxing, maybe you should ask the Lord for a sense of humor while you’er at it?

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  5. duranko 5 years ago

    Ted Peters.

    I differ from the above posts. Ted, if you want to post something, ignore the self-styled censors.

    It appears that your short post has attracted the following comments, of dubious Christian merit:

    “welfare check”
    “Justin Bieber”
    “Mozart and Bieber”
    “Hey Nut-Job”
    “circle jerk us”
    “brain definitely the size of a pea”
    “seek medical help”

    well, so much for tolerance!!

    Ted, I disavow these posts, and in this kind of forum, I’m fairly certain that posting whatever you think is well, okay!

    God bless!

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    1. JC 5 years ago


      Ah yes, “jimmy duranko” The people’s choice the angel’s delight!


      Suuuuuuuuuure white angel duranko, it’s OK, for YOU to completely DIS “TEO” and his Mormon Religion on this site!

      And we’re dubious christians? Hahahaha! How dare us? Hahahahahahaha!

      I won’t even quote your hate
      “TEO/MORMON” ‘pukefest’ documented on this site! MR. SUPERIOR TO ALL OTHERS! People can go back and read it for themselves!

      Shaz and Steelfan did you Zero harm rebuking a smart-a$$ troll!

      But gee, your overlordship now we know who your real enemies are!

      WOW, your overlordship, we are all shaking in our boots too!

      Keep supporting trolls! I’m sure your readership will hit an all time high like NBC! Hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!

      Shaz, I love your humor! Don’t let this old gasbag bother you. Let him pick on me.

      Ah..yes, good old jimmy duranko, talk about the pot calling the kettle black!


      Here come are beloved Irish!
      Foxnews 1 Regis & Lou!

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  6. JC 5 years ago

    WOW – Who is this “TWIT” Ted Peters trying to circle jerk us? Quick, Ted, head for your nearest “Magnetic Resonance Imaging Center’ to view the fact that your brain is definitely the size of a pea; then seek medical help immediately!

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  7. Shazamrock 5 years ago


    Who is Ted Peters????

    Isn’t he one of Ron Burgandy’s sidekicks?

    Wasn’t he the bartender who told Ron “Hey Nut-job…quit the singing, you’re creeping out all the regulars”?

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    1. Ron Burgundy 5 years ago

      Stay classy!

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      1. JC 5 years ago


        Game’s over butteye, you stay classy!

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      2. JC 5 years ago

        Duh….does that mean Ron is Buckeye? Yes!

        Yes, Ron, it does indeed mean if your aunt has a mustache she’s your uncle.

        Dysfunctionalism definitely is your trademark.

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  8. SteelfanRob 5 years ago

    Who is Ted Peters and why is he on here? What a waste of a post!

    Shaz, with all due respects, I think you’re giving Ted too much credit. Justin Bieber might as well be Mozart as far as he’s concerned.

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    1. JC 5 years ago

      RobbyRobert! (infamous Steelfan)Hahaha!

      See what happens,

      Shame on you! You Shameless and famous, agitating dubious christian!

      Jimmy Duranko say’s so! Please say it’s not so!

      Hahahaha! You trouble maker!

      Yep! It’s an exciting year already!

      What about it Robby? Repent?

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  9. Shazamrock 5 years ago

    Tu Peters…. don’t flatter your self. ND has done fine without your half-assed support so far. Besides, you wouldn’t like it, they no longer tolerate the throwing of snowballs at the players.

    This may come as a surprise to you but most true ND fans enjoy the recent re-enactments of the former glory days!

    Perhaps your welfare check would be better spent on a Justin Bieber concert!

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  10. Ted Peters 5 years ago

    Wow… you mean the Irish will no longer be staging reenactments of their former glory on Saturdays! Guess it will be worthwhile to attend a game again.

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  11. old school 5 years ago

    The way Hood runs is appealing — compact, leaning forward, strong lower and upper body, not afraid of contact, and with a good burst for about the first 15-20 yards. Along with Folston and Bryant, we have a basis for optimism. However, none of these backs is even on campus yet. Right now, before they arrive, the cupboard is not chock full. Atkinson doesn’t run like a halfback. He’s too upright, and he can’t cut very well. Mahone isn’t ready, and Carlisle, sad to say, may never be healthy enough to play much for us. That means Cam will get carries and catch passes out of the backfield — as he should. With three new starters of the six players on the offensive line, rushing yards may be hard to come by this season, at least until the backfield reinforcements are ready.

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    1. Chi-town Copper 5 years ago

      Hell yeah Old School. Cam is going to surprise alot of people. In a way i think he’s in a similar situation to Nebraskas Rex Burkhead. Burkhead rushed for over 1K yards as a junior, and though he was hurt as a senior still went for 140 yards and a couple TD’s vs Georgias vaunted D in the bowl game….then went ahead and got drafted in the 6th round. Like Cam he is also from TX and if given the CHANCE, both can PROVE they belong. I cant wait for the season to begin–Run Cam Run!

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      1. storespook 5 years ago

        Yep, I agree with you, Chi-town. When Cam gets a chance to play, I think a lot of people will be asking “Why didn’t we play this guy sooner?” He is hungry and when you’re hungry, you tend to really want it.

        Go Irish

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  12. HURLS 5 years ago

    Remember: Weid brought-in some great talent to start. But that talent remained underdeveloped. I have a really, really good feeling about BK’s Staff, since they’ve been together in various roles for so darn long, A lingering concern of mine (and my optimism) is BK himself. His Boston-Irish WAY is authentic and is unquestionable. (champion-calibur) But we saw what happened when he went against an elite. (Nick Saban) Let’s continue our ascendancy and BE the champions we want to – and should – be.

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    1. HURLS 5 years ago

      STRIKE rich from the start. “WeiS brought” – fat fingers. D is next to S on the keyboard.

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      1. HURLS 5 years ago

        STRIKE 2: RIGHT from the start…

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    2. Notre Dan 5 years ago

      Boston-Irish way? You mean the Michigan/Ohio way, that is where he learned to coach. Mentioning Boston is kind of an insult when it comes to football since none of the players or coaches are from there other than Kelly, and he has spent the majority of his life in the Midwest. Boston isn’t exactly know for it’s homegrown football talent.

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      1. HURLS 5 years ago

        Doug Flutie. 1983 Heisman Trophy. Natick, MA

        Or currently…

        John Montelus. ND O-line.

        Neither is Irish. (though Flutie may some blessed genes in his mom’s lineage)

        BK? MI/OH is where he earned to coach…after beginning at his alma mater in WORCESTER, MA. (asst @ Assumption College)

        But the point I’m making is that Boston is an attitude. You only apologize when you are responsible for not doing your part. And as Belichik, who spoke at ND last week, coaches: DO YOUR JOB. G’day.

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  13. Dan Newcomer 5 years ago

    I like how several can be used in a slot receiver position, the way this staff has been putting in, also to get more the field at same time which makes it harder for the defense to match up.

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  14. Chi-town Copper 5 years ago

    You forgot Cam McDaniel!

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    1. jerseymick 5 years ago


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