By Matt Heinz @MattHeinz_Rant on August 26, 2014
Much has been made about Notre Dame possibly losing four key players due to an academic related investigation. While the players have already been ruled out for the Rice game, there are plenty of reasons for optimism among ND Nation. Notre Dame, like always, plays a tough schedule and has high expectations. Let's look at five major reasons for fans to be excited about Notre Dame in 2014.
Reports from Brian Kelly out of camp in South Bend indicate that Chris Brown was the best WR on the team even before the possible loss of Daniels. Brown is a speedster who garnered Irish fans' attention for his big catch against Oklahoma as a freshman in 2012. Amir Carlisle is also one of the fastest players on the team and has made the transition from RB to the slot. The 6-foot-5 Corey Robinson will also be a primary target for jump balls.
Notre Dame’s best player on either side of the ball is Smith. Rivals.com listed him as the nation’s No. 3 overall recruit and he didn't disappoint during his freshman campaign. Finishing his freshman season with 63 tackles has led many to believe Smith will end his sophomore season on the All-American team. Under new coordinator Brian Van Gorder's 4-3 system, Smith will be around the ball much more playing middle linebacker in 2014. Moving him was a very smart move.
Bryant is physically imposing and also possesses breakaway speed which fans saw after his huge run in the spring game. Folson was also a true freshman in 2013, but didn’t come to the Irish with quite the fanfare of the five-star Bryant. Still, Folson earned a starting spot by the end of the year and finished with an impressive 5.3 yards per carry, making the first defender miss on almost every carry. Cam McDaniel is more than capable of putting his head down and picking up tough first downs, but the Irish need Bryant and Folson to dominate if they expect to crash the playoff party.
When Kelly was asked to describe his team in one word, he used the term “athletic.” This is the first time at ND where Kelly will have a mobile quarterback who has taken snaps at the D-I level before. Back at his usual duty of play-calling, Kelly will have a plethora of weapons to choose from in 2013. Irish fans should finally get to see what Kelly was known for: his high-scoring offenses.
If Everett Golson was 6-foot-3 out of high school, he just may have been one of the most prized recruits ever. Due to Golson’s height, many services like Rivals.com only had him listed as the 16th best dual-threat quarterback from the class of 2011. Golson’s high school tape is one of the most impressive of any quarterback ever, though. His accuracy is amazing and he even defeated Jadeveon Clowney’s team in the South Carolina State Championship. Oh, and he also led the Irish to the BCS national championship game the last time he was the Irish starter.
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