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Top 10 Players the Irish Will Face in 2023

By Liam Farrell|Writer|Twitter @LiamFarrell_IT



Photo by The LA Times


Notre Dame's 2023 schedule is one hell of a gauntlet. From the likes of hosting Ohio State and USC at home, to having tough road trips at NC State and Clemson, the Irish are in for tough tests around ever corner. The star power that the Irish will face in this upcoming season is quite absurd. Nonetheless, after a great Gator Bowl victory against South Carolina, the Irish should be primed to face off against these college football A-listers. Follow me as I break down the top 10 players Notre Dame will face off against this year.


Number 10: Phil Jurkovec, Pitt

Via Reinhold Matay, USA Today Sports


There's no better way to kickstart this list than with Phil Jurkovec. Cryptic gameday Instagram posts aside, Jurkovec is a great signal caller, which is why he was recruited by the Irish in the first place back in 2018. Phil saw his game take off at Boston College, until a lack of any sort of offensive line lead to injuries that left him banged up for the end of his career in Beantown. A change of scenery might be the best thing for Jurkovec, as he heads home to play for Pat Narduzzi and the Pitt Panthers. Jurkovec could be a difference maker at Pitt, with his ability to stand in the pocket, his overall toughness, and his deceptive takeoff speed when he has to. There's no doubt in my mind that Phil will be a top player the Irish face this upcoming year.

Number 9: Brennan Armstrong, NC State


Via Bryan Bennett, Getty Images


Brennan Armstrong is one of the most accomplished passers in the entirety of college football. Armstrong had one of the best statistical careers in the history of Virginia football, and his departure this past offseason was seismic. He was one of the biggest names in the transfer portal, and there was little shock that he reunited with his former offensive coordinator, Robert Anae, at NC State. This NC State game is Notre Dame's first major test of the season. I'm not saying that we should count the first two games of the year as easy wins, because we all saw what happened last year. However, going into Raleigh for the first true road game of the year will be a tall task for the Irish. With Armstrong's record high touchdowns also comes his uncanny ability to turnover the ball. If Anae can help his former quarterback read defenses more clearly this upcoming season, Armstrong should have the Wolfpack clicking on all cylinders.


Number 8: Kevin Coleman, Louisville

Via USA Today Sports


Kevin Coleman was one of the prized recruits that chose to take his talents to Jackson State and partner with Deion Sanders. After Sanders bolted to Boulder, it was perceived that Coleman, the SWAC freshman of the year, would join his quarterback, Shedeur Sanders at the University of Colorado. However, Coleman pledged his commitment to the University of Louisville, who hosts the Irish for a game in early October. The Louisville game is the trap game of the season in my opinion. A week before Southern Cal, it is likely that some of the Irish players will be looking ahead for their matchup against USC. This Louisville team has some top prospects, as they have revamped their recruiting efforts in recent years. To add Coleman, an absolute speedster of a Wide Receiver to the mix, newly appointed head coach Jeff Brohm should be licking his chops.


Number 7: Raleek Brown, USC


Via Ashley Landis, Associated Press


Raleek Brown isn't a household name yet in college football, but give it time. Brown was a top ranked recruit in the class of 2022, and he was one of the best running backs at Mater Dei High School, a true powerhouse in Southern California. Brown got a decent amount of playing time after Travis Dye, the transfer from Oregon, got hurt halfway through the season. Brown is lightening fast and USC fans are already comparing him to superstar, Reggie Bush. His change of speed and ability to follow blocks is what makes Brown's game special, and poised for a breakout sophomore season.

Number 6: TreVeyon Henderson, Ohio State


Via Kyle Robertson, Columbus Dispatch


Coming in at number 6 on the list is Ohio State running back TreVeyon Henderson. Henderson is an explosive back that beautifully compliments the notorious Ohio State air raid offense. Last year, the Irish did a good job corralling Henderson, limiting him to 95 yards at 6.1 yards a pop. Henderson had an underwhelming sophomore season after getting national recognition as one of the top freshman offensive players in the 2021 season. However, Henderson said he wasn't at 100% since a week 2 game against Toledo, in which he injured his foot. He attempted to play through the injury, but decided to get surgery on his foot that sidelined him in the Buckeyes' playoff game against the Georgia Bulldogs. After a spring recovery, I expect Henderson to break back on the scene and help round out the Buckeyes' explosive offense.


Number 5: Calen Bullock, USC


Via 247Sports


Finally, some love for the defense. At number 5, Calen Bullock is a difference making safety for the Trojans. A large majority of publications are already labeling Bullock as the best safety in college football. Last year, Bullock made an impact in the Irish's regular season finale, by putting a nail in the coffin with an interception with 5 minutes to go in 4th quarter (a terrible throw by Drew Pyne, but besides the point). Bullock tallied 5 total interception's last season, along with one pick six. It should be interesting to see how well Bullock will manage the outside noise and perform in the 2023 season.

Number 4: Jack Sawyer, Ohio State


Via Icon Sportswire, Getty Images


Jack Sawyer has all the intangibles to be another superstar Ohio State defensive end. Sawyer, about to come into his Junior year, is ready for a standout campaign to build off his impressive 2022 season. Sawyer was tied for the team leader in sacks and was one of the team leaders for tackles for loss. I decided to go with Sawyer over other edge rusher J.T. Tuimoloau, because of the raw potential that Sawyer possesses. The buzz in Columbus is high on the Pickerington, Ohio, product and it will be tough to limit his damage in the matchup in South Bend on September 23.


Number 3: Andrew Mukuba, Clemson


Via Cory Fravel, 247Sports


At number 3, we have Clemson safety Andrew Mukuba. This might be somewhat of a controversial pick, but Mukuba's on field production and overall maturity make him one of the most special players in all of college football. Learning under the wing of Nolan Turner, who seemed to be at Clemson for 12 years, Mukuba started as a freshman against Georgia on the opening of the 2021 season. Since then, Mukuba has done nothing but perform. While his numbers might not jump off the page like Bullock's, Mukuba is the calming force in the secondary of a very talented Clemson defense. Mukuba will make his presence felt when the Irish roll into Clemson, South Carolina in early November.


Number 2: Caleb Williams, USC

Via Getty Images


At number 2, we have Notre Dame's biggest villain, Caleb Williams. With the moniker "Superman", Williams is coming off his Heisman winning campaign, in which he single handedly resurrected the USC football program. This kid is an absolute stud on the field. When Notre Dame played USC last year, Williams put on a Houdini act every time he dropped back to pass. The way Williams continues plays and allows for his highly talented skill guys to get open is marvelous. It may raise some eyebrows to see Williams at Number 2 considering most would have him be the first pick in this year's NFL Draft if he was eligible. Nonetheless, Williams comes in at number 2 in my ranking.

Number 1: Marvin Harrison Jr., Ohio State

Via ESPN


Coming in at number 1 is the best player in all of college football, Marvin Harrison Jr. Harrison is a freak athlete who has displayed some of the best body control from a wide receiver in recent memory. Harrison's ability to play the ball in the air, and somehow find a way to land a foot in bounds is ridiculous. Harrison is so well-rounded as a route runner as well. He can beat you down the sideline. He has the speed to beat you over the middle of the field. He also has the supporting cast around him to where he gets placed in one-on-one battles that he wins 75% of the time. There is no receiver like Harrison Jr. in all of college football, and there is no player that can compare to his skill level.


Final Thoughts


The Irish are facing some legitimate talent this year. They are no doubt facing off against the two best individual players in the sport as well. The overall schedule is a tough-uphill climb, but the Irish roster is primed with the best talent it has seen in the last handful of years. Get your popcorn ready for Spring Ball, because it is about to get fun.


 

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1 Comment


Guest
Apr 06, 2023

really well thought out article! great read

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