Big Board: Running back

With a four-star running back already committed, the Irish have options and time to find a complement to Tony Jones Jr. Who will it be? Irish Illustrated goes deep at running back.

Blessed with three quality running backs and a quarterback who excels in the read-option, the Irish run game should feature this fall. That could offer Notre Dame a recruiting boost at the position.

Current Outlook

Heading into fall camp, here’s how the depth chart likely will stack up:

RB: Tarean Folston, Greg Bryant OR C.J. Prosise

Notre Dame is in good shape at running back heading into summer ball. Pending continued development from Greg Bryant, who’s being pushed by the head-turner of the spring, C.J. Prosise, running back will be one of Notre Dame’s strongest units this fall.

The position could be even better a year from now when it might rank among the nation’s best.

Barring an early entrance into the NFL draft by Folston or Bryant after this season, Notre Dame should return all running backs in 2016.

Incoming freshmen Dexter Williams and Josh Adams will have three or four years remaining depending on how the coaching staff manages red-shirts this fall.

What’s Next

Notre Dame has embraced college football’s trend of multiple backs. That means maintaining depth requires a couple backs this cycle.

Notre Dame earned a commitment from four-star Tony Jones Jr. after he visited for Junior Day in March. The 6-foot-1, 215-pound versatile back is a downhill runner with the ability to run strong in between the tackles, hit the perimeter quickly, burst open at the hole, and catch the ball out of the backfield.

As Notre Dame recruits a back to complement Jones, the Irish possess some flexibility. That means the Irish could take an all-purpose back with slot receiver potential. Or it might mean taking a back who’s more of an “athlete” with the ability to develop on defense.

Notre Dame’s top target at the position is four-star Elijah Holyfield of College Park (Ga.) Woodward Academy. Holyfield visited Notre Dame for Junior Day. It’s uncertain, and perhaps trending negatively at the moment, as to whether Holyfield will return to campus in the fall for an official visit, but his categorization of Notre Dame as a unique school in his recruitment – as compared to the numerous SEC schools recruiting him – piques his interest. Irish running backs coach Autry Denson visited Holyfield on Thursday.

Notre Dame’s most recent offer in the ’16 class was four-star Beaumont (Texas) Central Senior running back Devwah Whaley. The 6-foot, 200-pound all-purpose back released a top ten just days before the Irish offered.

Denson was set to see three-star running back/slot wide receiver Deon McIntosh of Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) Cardinal Gibbons on Thursday. A decision is not expected soon for the 5-foot-11, 170-pound athlete, and Notre Dame is pushing to land an official visit in the fall.

Keep an eye on Notre Dame’s recruitment of Brownsburg (Ind.) three-star running back Toks Akinribade, who is teammates with Notre Dame’s top 2017 quarterback target, Hunter Johnson. Akinribade does not hold a Notre Dame offer, but he’ll visit for Irish Invasion. Michigan offered this spring.

Some other names to track include Mike Epstein, Rico Dowdle, Travis Homer, Leo Lambert, Martell Pettaway and Malik Staples.

Here’s a look at the updated Master List at running back.

Toks Akinribade
6-0, 200
Brownsburg, Ind.
Offer: No Visit: Yes Recruiter: Elston Top Offers: Michigan, Boston College, Iowa, Indiana
New: Could see traction with Notre Dame with a strong showing at Irish Invasion. He’ll likely need a strong senior year. Teammate of Hunter Johnson.
Chris Evans
5-10, 195
Indianapolis, Ind.
Offer: No Visit: Yes Recruiter: Elston Top Offers: Illinois, Indiana, Purdue
Outlook: The Irish see Evans as more of a slot receiver/corner than a running back. He visited in late March during spring ball.
Elijah Holyfield
5-11, 189
College Park, Ga.
Offer: Yes Visit: Yes Recruiter: Booker Top Offers: Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, USC, Ohio St.
Update: Notre Dame impressed at Junior Day and visited the Georgia back in May. However, Holyfield said he’s unsure if he’ll officially visit the Irish.
Tony Jones
6-1, 215
Bradenton, Fla.
Offer: Yes Visit: Yes Recruiter: Denson Top Offers: March 22
Outlook: Jones returned for the spring game and plans to play baseball for the Irish too. He’s a power back, which Notre Dame’s roster lacks for now.
Chase Lucas
6-1, 180
Chandler, Ariz.
Offer: Yes Visit: No Recruiter: Lyght Top Offers: USC, Oregon, Texas, UCLA, ASU
Update:Pac-12 options Arizona State, UCLA and USC now stand out for Lucas. Location will play a sizeable factor. Added Texas and Oregon offers this month.
Deon McIntosh
5-11, 170
Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
Offer: Yes Visit: No Recruiter: Denson Top Offers: Miami, UNC, Penn St., Tennessee, Wisconsin
Update:Denson was set to see McIntosh on May 21 for his spring game. If the Irish want a running back with slot receiver skills, he could be the guy.
Amir Rasul
5-10, 190
Coral Gables, Fla.
Offer: Yes Visit: No Recruiter: Denson Top Offers: Miami, South Carolina, FSU, USC
Outlook: Rasul got a rankings bump to four stars and remains a Miami commitment. However, ND continues to come after the speedster.
Devwah Whaley
6-0, 195
Beaumont, Texas
Offer: Yes Visit: No Recruiter: Lyght Top Offers: Alabama, Georgia, Oklahoma, Stanford, Texas
New: Whaley’s recruitment is open for now, but it will be tough to overcome the top SEC/Big 12 programs that offered early. Came out with a Top 10 before Irish offered.


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