Matt Cashore /

A Dozen Questions with Irish Illustrated

We delve deep into the 2016 Irish roster in this, the first of our three staff Q&A sessions.

1. The one Notre Dame player I wouldn’t trade for a current college star at the same position is:

-- Prister: Isaac Rochell. He’s the glue of the Notre Dame defense.
-- Sampson: Mike McGlinchey, assuming we’re talking about position-for-position trades. Because I’d trade anybody on the roster for Myles Garrett
-- O’Malley: Quenton Nelson…for any offensive lineman over the next two seasons.
-- Hickey: Brandon Wimbush as my No. 3 QB
-- Hare: DeShone Kizer

2. By the time they leave/graduate, Notre Dame's best college football player from its last two recruiting classes (2015 and 2016) will be?

-- Prister: Shaun Crawford (2015) and Daelin Hayes (2016)
-- Sampson: Brandon Wimbush
-- O’Malley: Shaun Crawford
-- Hickey: Josh Adams
-- Hare: Alizé Jones

3. These three players will be consistent, reliable, but unspectacular players for 2016:

-- Prister: Tarean Folston, Durham Smythe, Cole Luke
-- Sampson: Daniel Cage, Alex Bars, Nic Weishar
-- O’Malley: Alex Bars, Sam Mustipher, Daniel Cage
-- Hickey: Jarron Jones, Durham Smythe, Cole Luke
-- Hare: Quenton Nelson, Justin Yoon, Shaun Crawford

4. The two, perhaps three Irish players most likely to win a national (position) award in college this year, or in the future, are:

-- Prister: Quenton Nelson, Tyler Newsome, Mike McGlinchey
-- Sampson: Justin Yoon, Tyler Newsome
-- O’Malley: Newsome, Yoon, Nelson
-- Hickey: Nelson, McGlinchey, Newsome
-- Hare: Nelson, Yoon

5. Notre Dame's "new" starter/key player in which you're most confident, is?

-- Prister: Shaun Crawford and Alex Bars
-- Sampson: Nyles Morgan
-- O’Malley: Nyles Morgan
-- Hickey: Shaun Crawford
-- Hare: Alizé Jones

6. The current backup that will win a starting job in 2016 is: 

-- Prister: Greer Martini
-- Sampson: Greer Martini
-- O’Malley: Tommy Kraemer and Greer Martini
-- Hickey: Greer Martini
-- Hare: Nick Coleman

7. “Blank” is the player that will improve the most between now and 2017:

-- Prister: Nyles Morgan
-- Sampson: Devin Studstill
-- O’Malley: DeShone Kizer
-- Hickey: Nick Coleman
-- Hare: Nick Coleman

8. I think this position group’s performance could impede a playoff berth:

-- Prister: Safety. (But) If you could put Tranquill’s makeup in Redfield’s body and Redfield’s athletic skills in Tranquill’s body…
-- Sampson: The defense. Does that count?
-- O’Malley: The safeties (continued paralysis by analysis)
-- Hickey: Defensive line
-- Hare: Defensive line

9. Conversely, I think this position group’s performance will make a playoff berth possible:

-- Prister: Quarterback
-- Sampson: Quarterback
-- O’Malley: The entire offensive backfield
-- Hickey: Wide receiver (OL gets all the credit for being the most tight-knit group, but the receivers might be able to one-up them) 
-- Hare: Quarterback

10. Age doesn't necessarily equate to improvement: The upperclassmen that would be a surprise to you if he were markedly better, is?

-- Prister: Max Redfield. Seeing is believing; not seeing is concerning
-- Sampson: Jarron Jones
-- O’Malley: Jarron Jones. Injuries have taken a toll…
-- Hickey: Jonathan Bonner
-- Hare: Max Redfield

11. The chief reason I would start DeShone Kizer at quarterback vs. Texas is…

-- Prister: He is the more likely of the two to avoid making a decision that leads to a loss.
-- Sampson: He’s the better all-around quarterback and can win a game with his arm.
-- O’Malley: At Virginia, at Clemson, at Pittsburgh, at Temple, at Stanford…Kizer doesn’t blink.
-- Hickey: His game management on the road at night in hostile environment.
-- Hare: He’s got the hot hand and developed rapidly during the 2015 season.

12. The chief reason I would start Malik Zaire at quarterback vs. Texas is…

-- Prister: I wouldn’t, but if it comes down to it, his crazy athleticism gives Notre Dame a chance to succeed in the red zone.
-- Sampson: If DeShone Kizer is hurt
-- O’Malley: If he is markedly better than Kizer at the end of each week in August Training Camp. You can’t look a team in the eye and choose Kizer in that (unlikely) event.
-- Hickey: A trick play
-- Hare: He earned the starting job last summer for a reason and he has the talent to change a game.

Next in the series: A dozen questions regarding the Irish coaching staff followed by 12 more concerning the 2016 schedule. Top Stories