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Time To Shine: Players Set to Impress in Blue & Gold Game

Written by Owen O'Connor ⏐ Writer ⏐ Twitter/X: @Ocon54

Photo by The Irish Tribune

The wait is finally over for Fighting Irish fans. The University of Notre Dame will host the 93rd Blue-Gold spring game this upcoming Saturday. An inner-squad spring game is the first taste of a new football season after months of practice for the program and its players. Last year, fans had the pleasure of watching new transfer Quarterback Sam Hartman throw the ball beautifully on the way to an exciting season. The Blue-Gold game is not only the first chance for a more live-action sequence but also a first impression on the fans and NCAA football for the 2024 season. Due to the looming time gap between the spring game and the start of football season, this inner-squad matchup can leave a longing impression on the fans' idea of the 2024 year. Potential stars and depth players alike will look to turn some heads.

The spring game is not only a chance to see the stars of today, but the playmakers of tomorrow. Head Coach Marcus Freeman and the coaching staff have done a tremendous job of planting the seeds for Notre Dame's future. Underclassmen who will have the chance to make an impact next season will get the opportunity to face starting-level competition. It is an exciting time to be a Notre Dame fan as the team is prospering at all levels. Now, let's take a look at some of the players who have the chance to make the biggest impact this Saturday:

CJ Carr - QB - True Freshman

Notre Dame Quarterback CJ Carr comes from a legacy in the world of football. The highly touted player is the grandson of former University of Michigan head coach Lloyd Carr. CJ was a top 50 recruit in the class of 2024 according to 247 Sports and the 1st ranked QB in the high-powered state of Michigan. As a senior, he guided Saline to a 9-2 record in the second round of the Michigan Division 1 playoffs for the second consecutive year. He also completed 199 of 292 pass attempts (68.1%), for 2,754 yards, 33 total touchdowns, and 9 interceptions. Carr enters an intriguing Quarterback competition that seems to be leaning toward Riley Leonard as the starter if his ankle recovery goes as planned. The backup Quarterback spot on the other hand is one conversation we've had in my previous writings. Carr has shown that at the least, he has earned a chance to compete with the best of them, even if he isn't quite ready to move up the depth chart for the time being.

During his time with the program so far, Carr has done nothing but impressed with his limited opportunities in practice and scrimmages. Coach Freeman has emphasized his growth and potential as a future star on multiple occasions. Carr's progress up the depth chart is contingent on a few factors. His physical strength could benefit from a solid summer of strength and conditioning training in South Bend, as well as a season of learning the system. The young Quarterback is anticipated to be one of the players with the most eyes on him this weekend depending on his number of snaps - and he should get plenty playing for both squads.

Jeremiyah Love - RB - Sophomore

The running back room will be open for business this season. Love is ready to help fill the shoes of Audric Estime this season as Notre Dame searches for their answer at Running back. The highly touted sophomore has already shown his potential in some big moments last season, especially in El Paso. As he demonstrated in his senior season, the Class 6 football State Champion can accelerate at an incredible rate. He had 14 touchdowns and an amazing 10.4 yards per rush when playing for Christian Brothers College in his final year. For his track team, he also won the state championship in the 100-meter dash. The St. Louis product made an early impression for the Fighting Irish this last season, gaining 86 yards and a touchdown on only nine touches in the first two games.

The sophomore is expected to mainly be splitting carries with Jadarian Price this season, as both have stepped up in the opportunities they've been given. With Price unavailable for the game on Saturday, the spotlight will shine squarely on Love, who looks to carry the Blue team to victory.

Last year, we saw Mike Denbrock operate a pass-heavy offense at LSU with Heisman winner Jayden Daniels at the helm. The star Quarterback was the leading rusher on the ground, but we saw Denbrock use the talent and abilities of all his weapons last season, including the running backs. This will most likely be the approach he takes this year with Love, who has the receiving tools to make an impact through the air.

Jaden Greathouse - WR - Sophomore

Jaden Greathouse brings the physical tools of a star Wide Receiver. At 6-1 and 205lbs, the promising sophomore has shown the ability to be the first option in a pass-heavy offense with his size, speed, and playmaking ability. Many fans will remember Greathouse for his tremendous breakout performance during the season opener in Dublin, Ireland vs Navy. The Freshman at the time scored a touchdown in the second quarter on a 34-yard reception, his first collegiate reception of his career. He also added a 20-yard reception for a second touchdown in the third quarter. He concluded with two touchdowns and a team-high 68 yards on three catches. One of five Irish wide receivers to have caught two passes in the season opener, and the first freshman to ever accomplish this achievement. With other presumed slot receivers Jordan Faison and Jayden Harrison out for the game, it wouldn't be a surprise to see Greathouse step up and be a tremendous safety blanket on the inside - if that's where he ends up playing.

As we discussed earlier, offensive Coordinator Mike Denbrock has a proven track record of finding the diamonds in a program. The Fighting Irish have the honor of retaining an offensive coach who has developed potential first-round WRs in Malik Nabers and Brian Thomas. The Blue-Gold spring game will be the first chance for certain Wide Receivers to mark their territory as one of the primary options in this offense, and Greathouse will look to take full advantage.

Notre Dame Football's 2024 Blue-Gold Game will stream live exclusively on Peacock this Saturday, April 20th, at 1:00 PM ET from Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, IN.


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