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Legends of the Future? Predicting Possible 2023 Breakout Stars

By Liam Farrell|Writer|Twitter @LiamFarrell_IT

Via USA Today


Fresh off the hands of a bowl game victory against #19 South Carolina, many Irish fans' optimism is at an all-time high. In a game where young stars got their opportunity to shine, some players stuck out to me in their limited number of snaps. With Notre Dame losing many starters to graduation and the NFL draft, let's look at some potential breakout stars in the upcoming 2023 season.


Offense

Via Michael Caterina, South Bend Tribune


First off, we have Tobias Merriweather. It feels as if all season fans longed for Tommy Rees to allow the lengthy wideout to shine. There were rumblings before the season opener against Ohio State that Merriweather would finally get his chance after the brutal career-ending injury to Avery Davis. Yet, this was not the case. Merriweather appeared in a handful of games this year, with his shining moment being a 41-yard touchdown against Stanford. Merriweather had also battled the injury bug by dealing with a concussion towards the latter-half of the year. However, he still appeared during the Taxslayer Gator Bowl, where he looked lost within the offense. Nonetheless, Merriweather will be a big play weapon for Rees and co. to work with.




Via 247Sports


Next up: Rocco Spindler, the "Monster of the Midwest." Spindler, one of the most prized recruits in recent memory at Notre Dame, has been behind a log jam on this offensive line. Spindler will finally get his time to shine with both guard positions left vacant this offseason. The recent success of tackles Blake Fisher and Joe Alt have overshadowed the positional depth that this offensive line has. With Spindler and Fisher having great chemistry, the right side of the Notre Dame Offensive Line should be locked up tight. The Irish will return Zeke Correll anchoring the middle of the line, and then it is a battle between Andrew Kristofic, Billy Schrauth, and Ashton Craig for the left guard position.


Via Matt Cashore, USA Today


The last pick that I see making an impact is Jadarian Price. Price is a name that made waves during Notre Dame's Spring Game by having an impressive 51-yard touchdown on a screen pass from Steve Angeli. Price's speed and ability to read blocks were very impressive for a true freshman. Even though he is recovering from a torn achilles and is behind a couple of absolute studs in the running back room, Price could make an impact should something happen to one of the three-headed monsters.


Defense

Via Michael Caterina, South Bend Tribune


My first pick to click on the defense side of things could be considered an asterisk since he's already proven himself on the special teams level, but I'll start with Jordan Botelho. Botelho is one of the toughest, most electric players I've seen in recent memory. Botelho recorded two sacks during the bowl game and was always in the backfield making a play happen. I can easily see Botelho sliding into the VYPER role left by Isaiah Foskey's departure. Also, with the Irish unable to land an established edge rusher so far in the portal, Botelho's performance could be pivotal in Notre Dame's overall success.


Via NBC Sports


The next player who jumps off the page is true-freshman linebacker, Jaylen Sneed. While Sneed had two 15-yard penalties in the bowl game, his freakish physical talent cannot be overlooked. The sideline-to-sideline speed of Sneed, the Hilton Head, South Carolina, product, and his sheer size is remarkable. Notre Dame's future as a whole at the linebacker position is bright as ever. With Marist Liufau being paired with former Butkus award winner Prince Kollie and this past year's Butkus award winner Drayk Bowen coming in: the Irish are primed for a stout linebacking core.


Via Sports Illustrated


Thought I forgot someone while listing all of Notre Dame's talent at linebacker? That's because Junior Tuihalamaka deserves a paragraph of his own. I've had the privilege of seeing Tuihalamaka play throughout high school because our high schools were pretty bitter rivals regarding football. However, despite the differences, it was abundantly clear that Junior Tuihalamaka is an absolute stud. He's so much of a difference-maker on the defensive side of the ball that Al Golden has the liberty of sticking him either at Middle Linebacker or shifting him over to VYPER. Tuihalamaka's versatility will lead to more playing time early on in his career, and it will be an absolute breakout season for Tuihalamaka in his sophomore campaign.


Wrap Up


Notre Dame's 2023 season will have the most anticipation in recent memory. With a blend of familiarity and a little sense of the unknown, the Irish are poised for a championship-caliber season. With an offensive line returning 60% of itself, an All-American running back room, and a plethora of athletic wide receivers, Notre Dame's offense could be one of the nation's best. On the flip, the Irish are losing a ton of experience and leadership in a stout front seven that the school prides itself on. As the calendar turns to January, Notre Dame fans can only dream about the team's capability before seeing their Irish again on Irish soil with a matchup against Navy opening up the season.

1 Comment


Guest
Jan 07, 2023

another great article, really well thought out!

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