Blue and Gold Illustrated

December 2018

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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Page 18 of 47 DECEMBER 2018 19 sion earlier in the year. Such com- petition on a daily basis has helped Notre Dame rank No. 2 nationally in pass efficiency defense through the first 11 games. Over on the far more veteran de- fense — whose 11 starters feature two fifth-year seniors, three seniors and six juniors — freshmen have been similarly inconspicuous. The highest ranked Rivals Irish recruit in the class, Houston Griffith, has worked at nickel. Yet even there se- nior Nick Coleman's experience, with more than a dozen career starts entering this season, was the choice for the final push in November. Tackle Jayson Ademilola has pro- vided solid depth, but did not have to be relied on nearly as much as Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa or Kurt Hinish as freshmen last season, more evidence of the stronger roster management and growth from the upperclassmen. Safety Paul Moala has played on three of the four special teams, while linebacker Bo Bauer has been on two of the units. Rover Shayne Si- mon also has been cross training at Buck linebacker, where there will be tremendous competition to replace Drue Tranquill in 2019. Probably the top two surprises this season among the rookies were local product Moala and cornerback TaRiq Bracy, who was relatively overshad- owed in the massive state of Califor- nia because of a lack of size, but now has become a third corner option. Down the road, Moala could move to rover if Simon shifts to Buck. "He's a physical kid," Kelly said of Moala. "He's done a great job in the weight room, and he's got a really good sense for football. The game comes pretty easy to him." There was not an instant impact figure like defensive linemen Aaron Lynch and Stephon Tuitt in 2011, cor- nerbacks KeiVarae Russell and Julian Love in 2012 and 2016, respectively, linebacker Jaylon Smith in 2013, nose guard Jerry Tillery in 2015 and even offensive tackle Robert Hainsey in 2017. Part of it is there didn't have to be. "It was important this year that we got contributions all the way down the line, deeper than just 40, 50 guys," Kelly said. "It seems that's worked out pretty good." With the quality development of the upperclassmen, the current freshmen have ideal examples to emulate. ✦ Three Tiers Come the end of the 2021 football season, the Notre Dame program might have a record amount of decisions to make on who to bring back for a fifth year. Among this year's 27 scholarship freshmen, a fifth year of eligibility was preserved for 20. Despite the new NCAA rule in 2018 that allows a freshman to redshirt as long as he didn't play more than four games at any point in the season, it was busi- ness as usual in roster management for the rookie class. "We had it tiered into three categories," head coach Brian Kelly summarized. "Those guys that were ready to play and we're going to play anyway, those guys that we're going to try to keep to no more than four [games], and those that wouldn't play." Tier 1: Used Up Freshman Eligibility (7) These are the players who appeared in more than four games, with only one on offense: wide receiver Kevin Austin. The other six were on defense and spe- cial teams: tackle Jayson Ademilola, linebacker Bo Bauer, rover Shayne Simon, nickel Houston Griffith, cornerback TaRiq Bracy and safety Paul Moala. Bauer had appeared in all 11 games prior to making the trip to USC. Tier 2: Played In Less Than Four Games (8) This group preserved a year despite some even appearing in the 42-13 blow- out of Florida State in game 10, thereby taking advantage of the new rule. None played in more than three contests: quarterback Phil Jurkovec, running backs C'Bo Flemister and Jahmir Smith, wide receiver Joe Wilkins Jr., offensive tackle Jarrett Patterson, defensive end Justin Ademilola, nose guard Ja'Mion Franklin (medical redshirt in game four versus Wake Forest) and cornerback D.J. Brown. Tier 3: Did Not Play In 2018 (12) Wide receivers Micah Jones, Lawrence Keys III and Braden Lenzy, tight ends George Takacs and Tommy Tremble, offensive linemen John Dirksen (guard), Luke Jones (center) and Cole Mabry (tackle), defensive end Ovie Oghoufo, line- backer Jack Lamb, cornerback Noah Boykin and safety Derrik Allen. — Lou Somogyi Notre Dame's top-rated recruit in 2018 by Rivals, Houston Griffith (No. 43) moved to the complex nickel spot this fall. PHOTO BY ANGELA DRISKELL Jayson Ademilola is projected to be a significant figure in Notre Dame's defensive interior in 2019 after the graduation of Jerry Tillery. PHOTO BY ANGELA DRISKELL

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