Notre Dame Football: Irish Enter 2015 with Two Preseason All-Americans


Potential is there for several more

The Sporting News Preseason All-American list is as much an accolade for the previous season as much as a prediction for the upcoming season. Two Notre Dame players made the list, one on each side of the ball. Left tackle

Ronnie Stanley

was named on offense while linebacker

Jaylon Smith

makes it on the defensive side of the ball.

Stanley projects to be one of the first, if not top lineman picked in next year’s draft. His athleticism and durability have stood out, and scouts see his high potential.

“The upside with Stanley is huge. He started every game at right tackle in 2013 and was named the Irish’s top offensive lineman last season as the starting left tackle. He’s as athletic as they came at his position.”

Smith has impressed since he arrived on campus with the build of a man, not a boy when he arrived. He’s slowly melded the physique and the level of play together to become one of the best linebackers in the nation. His speed coupled with his pursuit ability keeps him in every single play.

The Irish will likely enter the season as a Top 15 team, and there’s a good chance that they’ll finish with a few more players being mentioned for All-American status before it’s all said and done.

Receiver William Fuller had a breakout season last year, and will be an experienced, as well as key target for new Irish quarterback Malik Zaire. His ability to catch the ball underneath the coverage and break off long gains became his calling card, but he’s a much more complete receiver than that.

Another on the offense I think could make his way into the conversation is Amir Carlisle. A slow start at Notre Dame left many wondering what his role would be, but a move to the slot receiver created a monster. The issue is health, and if he can stay on the field, he’s another I feel can make a case before the year is over.

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My “heart” pick is Joe Schmidt, but I just don’t know where he’s going to be at physically to start the season. But if he can overcome the leg injury from last year, he’s more than capable of leading this defense and finding himself mentioned for All-American honors.

My feel good pick is KeiVarae Russell. After sitting out last season due to the academic issues, Russell chose to return to Notre Dame. This defense should be much improved over last year, and Russell will be a critical piece of it in the secondary. Very likely the most talented cornerback before the suspension, he’s worked tirelessly to get back–and could be a driving force for a “new look” defense.

This season looks to be an exciting one in South Bend, as Brian Kelly will enter with one of the most loaded teams he’s had in his tenure. There are some things to work through, including players returning from injury and suspension, new coaches, and a new quarterback. But once they take the field against Texas in the opener, this Fighting Irish team will be ready to go.