Irish Status Report: Offensive Backfield

Our first in a series of spring wrap-up columns examines Notre Dame’s roster with a look at each individual’s status entering the summer months. Is he ascending? Has he stagnated? Did he take a step back?

DeShone Kizer (QB) – The sky is the limit for Notre Dame’s Mr. Clutch. A reasonable goal is that Kizer conclude the 2016 season as one of the nation’s 10 best all around quarterbacks.   

Status: Ascending – maybe not on the depth chart, but as noted Monday by Pete Sampson on our podcast, Kizer is likely the best quarterback Irish fans will watch in each of the team’s 12 games next fall. Assuming he plays in them…

Malik Zaire (QB) – A flash of brilliance, one from his left arm – the other courtesy his surgically repaired right ankle – highlighted the Blue Gold Game. As his head coach noted, that was a mental stride taken by Zaire, and the QB competition will heat up a notch because of it.

Status: Ascending. Zaire could not move like that in live action when spring ball began. Should be an interesting summer.

Brandon Wimbush (QB) – When he loads and fires, no one in the Irish QB room spins it quite like the soon-to-be sophomore. Make that sophomore-redshirt-to-be. If Wimbush plays a significant role next season, something went wrong in South Bend.

Status: Stagnant. In limbo. On hold. Circling at 35,000 feet…

Montgomery VanGorder (QB) – Is poised to make his collegiate debut as the squad’s field goal and PAT holder in Austin.

Status: Ascending. Assuming things continue to progress, “MVG” is going to earn a monogram in 2016.

Josh Adams (RB) – If you’re taking bets as to who will lead the Irish in rushing yards next season you’d be foolish not to choose Adams. That doesn’t mean he’s better than Folston, it means one tore his ACL last September and the other ripped off 168 yards at Stanford three months later. 

Status: Ascending

Tarean Folston (RB) – The Irish coaching staff can’t officially finalize their plans for Folston until the senior takes on a few mid-camp tackles and confidently breaks down a defender in space thereafter. No one has voiced any real concerns to that end, and all signs point to a bounce back season for Folston. Still…

Status: Stagnant

Dexter Williams (RB) – He’s going to help Brian Kelly’s offense next season. Period. Whether that’s as a No. 3 (probably), No. 2 (could eventually be the case) or a No. 1 ‘back (not out of the question) remains to be seen.

Status: Ascending

Justin Brent (RB) – I like him better at wide receiver than running back, plus the latter’s depth chart offers no chance at upward mobility. My two cents: make the switch (back) now and get incoming freshmen such as Deon McIntosh and Tony Jones, Jr., backfield reps in his stead. Brent could help a totally unproven receiving corps.

Status: Ascending, because Brent hit rock bottom last season. He’s not there anymore. But he also has no chance to crack the top 3 at his current position barring injury. Getting him back on the field in special teams action is the first step, and perhaps a re-engaged Brent could then help in some manner as a pass-catcher. 

-- Joining the fray this summer: QB Ian Book and the aforementioned pair of Deon McIntosh and Tony Jones. Also on scholarship and part of the practice week equation is fifth-year senior and former walk-on Josh Anderson. The running back was sidelined for a large portion of spring ball with a foot/ankle injury.


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