Notre Dame has been in the midst of a string of transfers the last week like nothing we’ve seen here before. The bad news continued on Wednesday when reserve center Parker Boudreaux announced he was transferring. The transfer was Notre Dame’s third transfer this month.
Last week reserve linebacker Josh Barajas announced a transfer to Illinois State. On Monday backup center Tristen Hoge announced a transfer to BYU. After the transfer of Hoge, Boudreaux was set to fill the backup center role as a redshirt freshman this year. Boudreaux has said that he is not transferring because of playing time though and his first visit is to Central Florida this weekend suggesting he is looking to get closer to home.
Harry Hiestand has had to add training a new backup center to his fall camp to do list. Candidates include junior Trevor Ruhland, freshman Robert Hainsey, 5th year senior Hunter Bivin, freshman Dillan Gibbons, and freshman Aaron Banks. It should be noted that both Banks and Hainsey were early enrollees.
Keeping Sam Mustipher Healthy
After the transfers of Boudreaux and Hoge, Sam Mustipher might be the most indispensable starter for Notre Dame in 2017. Notre Dame has no one with any experience behind Mustipher and depending on how things shake out in fall camp, the #2 spot on the depth chart could be filled by a true freshman for the season opener.
Much like Mark Harrell was the Swiss Army knife of the Notre Dame offensive line last year though, Hunter Bivin could fill that role this year. Even if he isn’t listed as the backup center when Temple comes to town, he could be the answer at center if Mustipher were to miss any substantial time.
Let’s hope we don’t have to find out if that is the case at any point in 2017.
Transfers Will Hurt More Next Year and Beyond
With Boudreaux set to transfer, Notre Dame will have 13 offensive linemen on scholarship this year and neither Boudreaux or Hoge was looking at serious playing time this year without an injury or two. Next year though, Notre Dame could find itself in a major bind along the offensive line.
Mike McGlinchey is a 5th year senior. Alex Bars, Quenton Nelson, Sam Mustipher, and Jimmy Byrne are all seniors in 2018. Nelson considered leaving early for the NFL this past season and if he has the kind of year he is expected to have, its hard to imagine him coming back in 2018. That means Notre Dame will be replacing at least two starters. Alex Bars and Sam Mustipher though could have NFL decisions to make assuming both make it through their second seasons as starters injury free.
If either Bars or Mustipher emerge and decide against returning for a 5th year, Notre Dame is going to be in a really tough spot on the offensive line in 2018.
Notre Dame already has two offensive linemen committed in the class of 2018 in Cole Mabry and John Dirksen. The Irish have been very selective in their offers along the line though and this year’s class of lineman is said to be one of the weakest in recent memory. Still, with these two losses, Notre Dame will have to explore making a few more offers and perhaps taking an additional lineman this year now.
Should Notre Dame return both Bars and Mustipher in 2018, Notre Dame could still afford to be selective in their offensive line recruiting and then load up in 2019.
Roster Spot Open for Alohi Gilman?
After adding graduate transfer Cameron Smith earlier this week, Notre Dame was sitting at 85 scholarships – even with the transfer of Hoge. Despite being at 85, Notre Dame hosted Navy transfer Alohi Gilman on Tuesday. The safety transfer is not a graduate transfer but would still count towards the 85 limit for 2017 as he sits out. With Boudreaux’s transfer though, Notre Dame now has an open roster spot for the 2017 season opening the door for a potential transfer to Notre Dame for Alohi.