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Depth & Stability Highlight Freeman's Spring Focus

Written by Liam Farrell|Senior Staff Writer|Twitter/X: @LiamFarrell_IT

Via The Irish Tribune


SOUTH BEND, Ind. - Even as the calendar barely turns to April, Marcus Freeman's attention to depth when constructing the Fighting Irish's roster is already coming to fruition.


With the second ankle surgery limiting Riley Leonard's involvement with the team and Benjamin Morrison undergoing surgery on his shoulder, Notre Dame is currently without their two most talented players on either side of the ball.


"There's still some depth in the backend of the defense that we can continue to finalize," said Freeman in an interview with Greg McElroy.


With Morrison's injury sidelining him for at least six weeks, Freeman and defensive coordinator Al Golden will look to see how deep the position room truly is.


The battle between Christian Gray and Jaden Mickey will continue all fall camp, and the sudden transferring of experienced cornerback Clarence Lewis has spread the secondary even thinner.


Freeman's use of the transfer portal in the offseason highlights his weariness about the backend, as well.


The additions of Arizona State transfer Jordan Clark, and Northwestern transfer, Rod Heard II are instrumental pieces in filling in holes left by the departures of Cam Hart and Thomas Harper.





Clark, who shined in four seasons with the Sun Devils totaling 139 tackles and three interceptions, brings an experienced playmaker with natural football instincts.


Heard, who cannot participate with the Irish because he is still finishing up classes at Northwestern, had 85 tackles, two forced fumbles and an interception with the Wildcats last season. His ability to play well against BIG 10 competition made him a priority target for cornerbacks coach Mike Mickens.


On offensive side of the ball, Leonard's second surgery puts the Fighting Irish in an uncomfortable situation.


Freeman brought in Leonard to command an explosive Irish offense led by the newly minted offensive coordinator Mike Denbrock.


Spring camp is the perfect opportunity for a new face to get acquainted with his team. While Leonard may not get the opportunity to practice with his new teammates, his presence is still felt as he was scootering in between stretching lines at practice, chatting it up with his wide receivers and building a rapport with his offensive line.


In the midst of Leonard's on-field absence, quarterbacks Steve Angeli, Kenny Minchey, and CJ Carr will get significantly more reps.


Given Leonard's recent injury prone nature, a more experienced crew of backup quarterbacks can serve as a great weapon to have.


In 2015 when Malik Zaire went out for the Irish, DeShone Kizer was able to fill in seamlessly for Zaire and lead the Irish to a double-digit win season, so the importance of depth can't be understated.


While injuries are never cherished, they are simply a part of the game, and by putting such an emphasis on positional unit depth, Freeman has the Irish in a spot to succeed given any situation possible.


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