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Spark at Running Back? Speed at Linebacker? Breakout Candidates for the 2024 Season

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


Via The Irish Tribune


As the calendar has flipped to 2024, it is a perfect time to look back on the 2023 rollercoaster season for the Fighting Irish. On one hand, there were many games that evoked great joy like the comeback victory at Duke and the USC beatdown. While on the other hand, the gut-wrenching loss to Ohio State and the nightmare second half against Louisville still leaves a bad taste in the mouths of hundreds of Notre Dame supporters. However, the 2023 season was a very important steppingstone for the program as a whole. The emergence of Xavier Watts and Howard Cross III on the defensive side of the ball have fortified the Irish on multiple levels of their Top 10 nationally ranked scoring defense. On the offensive side of the ball, playmakers like Jaden Greathouse and Jordan Faison have cemented their names as capable, big play wide receivers. While adding to the success from last year's team, I will be highlighting three names that will burst on the scene and make Notre Dame a national champion level contender. Let's see who the breakout players in the 2024 season will be.



Jeremiyah Love:


The first player that will burst out on the scene in the 2024 season will be Jeremiyah Love. Love, who became the second back on the Fighting Irish depth chart by the end of the season, will most likely adopt the starting running back role left by Audric Estime's decision to declare for the NFL Draft. Love, in his true freshman campaigned, carried the ball 71 times for 385 yards, and added one touchdown to his credit. In the Sun Bowl against Oregon State, Love didn't make that big of an impact on the ground only rushing for 39 yards on 15 carries but showed glimpses of greatness in the pass catching department. Love had a 13-yard touchdown catch, in which he shed and juked a total of four Oregon State players.


Love will be sliding into the premier role of this loaded running back room that also features Jadarian Price, Gi'Bran Payne, Devyn Ford, and true freshmen Kedren Young and Aneyas Williams. His speed and ability to make cuts in the open field are what separate him from the rest of the backs in the room. Jeremiyah Love will be the most recent big play type running back the Fighting Irish have had since Dexter Williams back in 2018, but still, Love may be the fastest running back the Irish have had in the 21st century.



Jaylen Sneed:


It's time to turn to the defensive side of the ball to find the next breakout player for the Irish in Junior linebacker, Jaylen Sneed. Sneed, the one-time former five-star recruit out of Hilton Head, South Carolina, got significantly more playing time in Year 2 for Al Golden's defense. Sneed performed the best in the brightest lights, most notably against Ohio State and USC. Last season, Golden utilized Sneed the most in the pass rush game, as he proved to be a rather efficient blitzing linebacker. Sneed also displayed great awareness dropping back into coverage and being able to run with anyone on the field.


Speed is the best facet of Sneed's game. He is an athletic freak, who can run sideline-to-sideline, and make one-on-one tackles in space. With the departure of JD Bertrand and Marist Liufau, the Irish will be needing to replace two multi-year starters at the linebacking core. The decision by Jack Kiser to return in 2024 will be great in terms of leadership within Golden's linebacker room; however, Sneed's potential is far greater than any of his other peers.



Adon Shuler:


The last pick to click for the 2024 season is someone who got the least amount of playing time out of the three players: Adon Shuler. Shuler will be one of the most important pieces for Notre Dame in the 2024 season, as he is expected to start next to Xavier Watts at the safety position for the Fighting Irish. The 5'11" Sophomore to be from Irvington, New Jersey, displayed great natural ball skills in the Sun Bowl. Shuler is a physical safety who can come up from the back level and make plays behind the line of scrimmage.


With the transfers of Ramon Henderson and Antonio Carter, the safety room is quite scarce. While the Fighting Irish brought in two transfers to the secondary in Jordan Clark and Rod Heard II, Shuler is still expected to start regardless of his inexperience. It will be imperative that there are no growing pains for Shuler as the Irish have one of the best secondaries in the country around him. If opposing quarterbacks try to stay away from Benjamin Morrison and the combination of Jaden Mickey and Christian Gray, Shuler will have to make a name for himself.


Wrap-Up:


Who are your picks to be breakout candidates in 2024? Which guys do you think will make the biggest impact for Notre Dame outside of their star players? Let me know in the comments below!





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