Notre Dame Roster Count And Future Overview
Notre Dame sure knows how to time verbal commitments to keep the news cycle churning during a football bye weekend.
Four new pledges were added this week with four-star Florida cornerback Philip Riley, prized California kicker Joshua Bryan, and a pair of three-star prospects in Hawaii linebacker Kahanu Kia and Florida offensive lineman Caleb Johnson, who had originally given a verbal to Auburn.
That brings the scholarship count to 23 in the class of 2021 for Notre Dame — and well beyond the 85 the NCAA has permitted since 1992.
For 2021, it’s not relevant because it was declared prior to the season that because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 campaign is a free year that will not be counted against an individual’s eligibility.
However, in 2022, it will return to the 85 cap-room space, which will result in many decisions that will have to be made about personnel management on the roster. For now, here is the current breakdown we have of the 2021 roster:
• 23 incoming freshmen, with maybe a couple more additions, or maybe even a subtraction, anticipated by the Dec. 16 early signing period.
• 17 sophomores, led by tight end Michael Mayer and running back Chris Tyree.
• 21 juniors. Led by safety Kyle Hamilton and running back Kyren Williams, this class has stayed relatively intact, with offensive lineman John Olmstead (Lafayette) the lone departure.
• 20 seniors. This group originally had 27, but seven either have transferred, most notably quarterback Phil Jurkovec to Boston College, left the game for injury/health reasons or are in the transfer portal.
That’s 81 players right there on scholarship — and we have yet to include 13 current fourth-year seniors who are eligible for a fifth season in 2021, which would take the number up to 94.
Oh, and by the way, there are currently nine fifth- or sixth-year seniors who could apply for yet another season in 2021 if so desired because of the NCAA waiver for the 2020 campaign.
That potentially takes it up to 104.
Again, for the 2021 football season the numbers crunching is irrelevant.
First, here are the nine fifth- or sixth-year players who could — or could have — applied to return in 2021: Quarterback Ian Book, wide receivers Javon McKinley and Ben Skowronek, offensive linemen Liam Eichenberg and Tommy Kraemer, defensive ends Daelin Hayes and Ade Ogundeji, and cornerbacks Shaun Crawford (who is in his sixth year) and Nick McCloud.
We would be surprised if any of those players returned in 2021.
Book, Hayes and Ogundeji already have accepted invitations to play in the Jan. 30, 2021 Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. So did senior offensive tackle Robert Hainsey.
There comes a time for most college students after four years to move on with their lives, and it's likely even more so after their fifth years. Crawford was the outlier.
In any case, with all nine likely moving on, that takes the number back down to 95.
Next are the 14 fourth-year seniors on scholarship who will be introduced on Senior Day versus Syracuse on Dec. 5: running back Jafar Armstrong, wide receiver Avery Davis, tight end Brock Wright, offensive linemen Hainsey, Aaron Banks, Josh Lugg, Dillan Gibbons and Colin Grunhard, defensive linemen Kurt Hinish and Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, rovers Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah and Isaiah Pryor, middle linebacker Drew White and kicker Jonathan Doerer.
Pryor graduated from Ohio State in three years and transferred to Notre Dame, so 2021 would be his actual fifth season as a college player. He also has an opportunity to start at rover next season, which graduates potential first-round selection Owusu-Koramoah.
With Hainsey and Owusu-Koramoah headed for the NFL Draft, the number goes back down to 93 — not too far from where it’s been each January the past several years. We believe the next current senior who would be most likely to leave for the NFL with a year on the table is Banks. His size alone could make him an appealing option.
Only Doerer, to our knowledge, has publicly gone on record to say he likely will apply to return in 2021.
The far tougher decisions for roster management will occur in 2022. Per usual, though, they will find a way of working themselves out to the 85 limit.
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