Oct. 20, 2012; South Bend, IN, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish running back George Atkinson III (4) stretches the ball across the goal line for a touchdown as BYU Cougars defensive back Daniel Sorensen (9) defends in the fourth quarter at Notre Dame Stadium. Notre Dame won 17-14. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Evaluating the Depth: Notre Dame’s Running Backs

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With both Theo Riddick and Cierre Wood graduating from Notre Dame and pursuing the NFL the Irish are now looking for their starter at running back and his backup. The coaching staff will be anticipating the arrival of Greg Bryant this June, but before that there are three candidates already.

George Atkinson III is the only returning running back with over 50 carries. He is known for his breakaway speed, but doesn’t lower his shoulder or cut the way many of the fans and coaches would like to see. If in the off-season GAIII has become a complete back then he will get the nod to start, but if he struggles to add versatility to his game others will be ready to step up. The only other running back on the roster to carry the football last year is Cam McDaniel, who is a hard-nosed football player. He switched from running back to cornerback back to running back last season. Hard work and improvement on his skills will get him more playing time, but as of now he is probably the 3rd or 4th string. I tend to forget about the USC transfer Amir Carlisle, who suffered a broken ankle before spring practice last year. He played in 8 games as a freshman at USC, so he does have game experience and should be healthy this spring. Carlisle was ranked as the 4th best running back in the 2011 class and looks to prove it this coming season.

Then when summer rolls around the freshmen Greg Bryant and Tarean Folston will arrive on campus to compete for playing time right off the bat. It is a wide open race and I think Coach Kelly will use 2 running backs consistently like last season and use a 3rd to mix it up. It is a 5 man race, but- GAIII has a slight lead with Greg Bryant and Amir Carlisle behind him followed by Cam McDaniel and Tarean Folston. Don’t forget about Will Mahone who will be a sophomore next season and should get a fair shot.

2013  Projected Depth Chart

1. George Atkinson III

2. Greg Bryant

3. Amir Carlisle

4. Cam McDaniel

5. Tarean Folston/Will Mahone

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