Immediate Regrets from My Top 25 Notre Dame Players Ballot

Recently the UHND staff put out our preseason top 25 for the Notre Dame football roster. It’s a popular thing in Notre Dame circles, and these things are always fun to debate. The pitfall of a preseason top 25 though is practice soon started and it became very apparent some mistakes were made (like not ranking Kyle Hamilton high enough).

After following the first couple weeks of fall camp, we’ve got a pretty good sense of where individual players stand; thus some amendments to the top 25 are in order. I’ll be using my own top 25 list as a guide since I won’t speak for the others whose rankings were used to compile the sites overall top 25. At the end I’ll re-rank my top 25 to reflect the changes.

You’ll notice I have more risers than fallers. Naturally, when someone rises, others have to bump down. But, in those cases, I’m noting that they’ve been passed, not so much that I’m looking to move them. With the fallers, it’s specific to that player, who I don’t think have lived up to the ranking.

The Risers

Donte Vaughn, CB- Unranked 

I didn’t rank Vaughn because I thought he’d be a third team corner and generally, third team corners aren’t top 25 players on the roster. He is, apparently, a first-team corner and generally speaking that is a top 25 player so he ought to be ranked here.

It’s a pretty odd thing how glowing the reports have been of Vaughn and his play so far. He’s apparently been so good at times the quarterbacks have stopped trying to throw to his side. It’s unclear how much the field or boundary distinction is a thing this season, but all indications are that Vaughn will be playing opposite of Troy Pride, barring injury.

Tony Jones Jr., RB- Unranked

I’ve never been high on Jones Jr., and even though he’s at least the #2 back and will see a lot of time, I didn’t think his talent warranted a ranking. That said, he’s been impressive in practice, and if you look at the video clips being put out by the various outlets during position drills, Jones Jr. is going out first, which generally signifies the first team player. If I recall correctly, he went through drills first last season as well, before Armstrong started against Michigan, so this stuff isn’t ironclad. But, I think that evidence, plus the positive reports of his play, should cause me to respect what he brings to the table a little bit more.

Kyle Hamilton, Safety- 21

He’s picked off a pass every day the media has been in attendance. He’s running with the first-team nickel and dime defenses. There is talk they might put him in the game to catch jump balls near the goal line on offense. There is an excellent chance he’s covering all kicks. This isn’t the 21st best player on the team. The only reason he isn’t starting on defense is because the guys in front of him are ranked in the top 10 by everyone and are both captains. He ought to be ranked ahead of every linebacker, except for one.

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Jeremiah Wusu-Koramoah, Rover- 18

Speaking of the linebacker Hamilton should not be ranked ahead of, JOK has had a fantastic camp. I rated him 18th based on the faith that he’d be a good player, but even I didn’t expect the reports to be as glowing. He’s gathered two interceptions thrown by Ian Book intended for Chris Finke, which is no small thing by any means. He’s been extremely physical despite not being big enough on paper and has had good practices at all of the viewings.

The simple fact that this guy is matching up with Finke and causing turnovers regularly is enough to bump him up in and of itself.

Michael Young, WR- 16

I think I had Young higher than most people, and it still doesn’t seem high enough. The guy has been fantastic every day; he may have had the catch of the year in practice against the team’s best corner, and is evidently the only guy who can beat Donte Vaughn in coverage. If Young has a big year, I don’t see how this offense can be stopped, given what we know we are getting from Claypool and Finke, who have also looked very good.

Chase Claypool, WR- 9

He’s been phenomenal in camp, making great catch after great catch while working against Troy Pride. By all accounts he’s ready to take the big step forward everyone has been waiting for, is taking every rep and every drill seriously, and has set the standard for the receiving core. He’ll move into the top 5.

Fallers

Ian Book, QB- 1

I ranked Book #1 based on all the offseason prep pieces and bought the hype a little bit. So far he’s been good, but not great while Okwara has been stellar. I said when the rankings initially came out that I wasn’t sure about this one, and it took two weeks for me to change my mind. Not a huge fall, but a notable one.

Robert Hainsey, OT- 5

I put too much faith in the coaching evaluations than my own opinion here, so I’ll make up for it. He just hasn’t been at the top five level so far, which isn’t to say he’s been bad, but the reports have been mixed. I wanted him closer to 10 anyway, and I still think he’s their best offensive lineman, but the ceiling isn’t as high right now.

Jafar Armstong, RB- 11

Hasn’t been bad, but hasn’t been dynamic as you’d like so far in camp. The ranking felt a little high when I made it initially, but I was in a good mood that day. Not a huge drop, but other players have outplayed him so far.

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Houston Griffith, CB- 23

He’s been hurt, and Vaughn passed him in the starting lineup, so the same logic applies. Backup corners who aren’t playing in the nickel aren’t going to be top 25 players. With the transfer of Derrik Allen, Griffith may move to safety to work next to Hamilton, but that’s unclear. Either way, I don’t see it affecting his ranking much.

New Top 25

  1. Julian Okwara
  2. Alohi Gilman
  3. Ian Book (1)
  4. Khalid Kareem
  5. Chase Claypool (9)
  6. Chris Finke
  7. Jalen Elliott
  8. Troy Pride
  9. Robert Hainsey (5)
  10. Aaron Banks
  11. Liam Eichenberg
  12. Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (18)
  13. Michael Young (16)
  14. Daelin Hayes
  15. Jafar Armstrong (11)
  16. Kyle Hamilton (21)
  17. Tommy Kraemer
  18. Cole Kmet
  19. Kurt Hinish
  20. Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa
  21. Jarrett Patterson
  22. Tony Jones Jr. (NR)
  23. Donte Vaughn (NR)
  24. Asmar Bilal
  25. TaRiq Bracy

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2 comments

  1. Matthew Cole 3 months ago

    Just for fun, and for future comparison, maybe on a slow news day, predict the Top 25 for next season (before we begin play this year. Might be fun to look back.

    Canadian Irish

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    1. Greg Flammang 3 months ago

      I’d have to give this more thought, but there are so many players who could potentially leave.

      Okwara
      Kareem
      Book
      Claypool
      Finke
      Jones Jr.
      Elliott
      Gilman
      Crawford
      Pride
      Vaughn

      And none of this includes Eichenberg, Banks, Kraemer, or Hainsey

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