We wrapped up our NFL team previews yesterday. Today, we start unveiling our Top 10 teams in college football. Notre Dame starts the 2021 season in the #10 spot.
Brian Kelly’s Fighting Irish had a successful 2020 season by posting a respectable 10-2 overall record. Notre Dame made the College Football Playoffs for the second time in three years but they were bounced out by eventual champion Alabama in the opening round. The Irish have to replace a lot of key players but a ton of talented freshmen are waiting in the wings.
The Notre Dame offense will definitely miss Ian Book at quarterback. Book was selected by the New Orleans Saints in the fourth round of the NFL Draft. Jack Coan will take over at QB after transferring in from Wisconsin (msn.com). Coan didn’t play in 2020 but had a fantastic 2019 by tossing 18 touchdowns and only five picks.
The bell cow of the Irish offense will be running back Kyren Williams. The 5-9 195 pounder is the best playmaker on the Notre Dame offense. Williams is coming off a huge 2020 season that saw him rush for 1,125 yards and 13 touchdowns.
The Irish wide receiving corps is chocked full of seniors who didn’t play much last season. Kevin Austin, Braden Lenzy, Joe Wilkins, and Lawrence Keys haven’t had a ton of on-field experience but they know Kelly’s offense well. Tight end Michael Mayer will be a key target for Coan in 2021 as he caught 42 passes for 450 yards a year ago.
The Notre Dame defense will largely be an inexperienced group in 2021. Kelly brings in plenty of highly touted freshmen to help fill in the gaps on that side of the ball. Defensive end Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa returns for his fifth season after getting 17 tackles and 2.5 sacks last year.
Drew White is the most experienced linebacker on the Irish as he had 56 tackles and 1.5 sacks in 2020. Shayne Simon and Jack Kiser also played plenty of snaps last season. Isaiah Foskey is another solid pass rusher, as he racked up 4.5 sacks last season.
The leader of this Fighting Irish defense is free safety Kyle Hamilton, who may be one of the best defensive players in the country. The 6-4 219 pounder has freakish size for a defensive back and insanely good ball skills. Hamilton led the team in tackles in 2020 with 63.
2021 Special Teams
Jonathan Doerer returns as the starting kicker for the Fighting Irish this year. Doerer struggled with his field goals at times last year but ended up hitting 15 out of 23 attempts. He did make all 49 extra-point attempts.
Jay Bramblett will continue to be the starting punter in 2021. Bramblett averaged 42.8 yards per punt last season for the Irish.
Matt Salerno will handle the punt return duties this season for Notre Dame. Chris Tyree will be the main kick returner after racking up 456 kick return yards last year.