Notre Dame Football: 5 Non-Starters Who Will Impact 2018

SOUTH BEND, IN - NOVEMBER 04: Matt Colburn
SOUTH BEND, IN - NOVEMBER 04: Matt Colburn /

The Notre Dame football roster has talent everywhere, not just amongst the starters.

Every Notre Dame football player wants to make an impact. Whether starting or in a secondary role, the desire to contribute is a must.

Some get more chances than others, but in order to compete at the highest level and have a shot at the College Football Playoff, contributions are needed just as much from role players outside of the starting 22 as the starters within.

This year’s depth chart began to take shape during spring practices, and once fall camp starts, even more questions should be answered by mid-August.

Today we’ll take a look at five players who are not currently listed as starters, but should still make a big impact to the 2018 team.

5. Julian Okwara, Defensive End

Julian is the younger brother of former Irish standout and current New York Giant Romeo. Okwara appeared in 12 games last season, contributing 17 total tackles along with 2.5 sacks. He’s currently listed as the backup to Daelin Hayes, but could easily line up opposite Hayes in place of Khalid Kareem, giving him two options to accumulate playing time at his natural position.

I think this season Okwara will definitely increase his amount of tackles, especially with the strong possibility that Jerry Tillery frequently commands two blockers.

4. Jordan Genmark Heath, Linebacker

A possible heir apparent to Drue Tranquill, this could be a big season for the 6’1, 211 pound sophomore. JGH is going to need to have an impact to prove the coaching staff was right in moving him to linebacker from safety in spring.

Since it was a recent move, the only way to improve is by playing — which can be good and bad. Although that playing time is good, I believe the worst thing that can happen would be an injury to Tranquill that forces JGH into the lineup before he’s ready.

Given the time necessary, he can develop into a solid replacement. Until then, he should get a decent amount of time to develop. In that time, the numbers should come.

3. Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, Defensive Tackle

Another sophomore, Tagovailoa-Amosa was my breakout pick last year, and he will be again this year.

Playing in all 13 games last season, Tagovailoa-Amosa managed 12 tackles — which included 1.5 for loss. Had Jerry Tillery left for the NFL, Tagovailoa-Amosa would be the starter.

One more year of Tillery also means one year of preparation before being thrown into the fire for MTA. As dominant as Tillery should be in 2018, it’s hard to see him playing every snap. Being the primary backup as well as the future of the position, it’s difficult not to assume plenty of game time for Tagovailoa-Amosa.

2. Jafar Armstrong, Running Back 

Armstrong was originally recruited as a wide receiver but was moved to running back.

Currently listed as the number two running back, Armstrong has two things already in his favor.

First off, between the loss of Josh Adams to the NFL and Deon McIntosh and CJ Holmes no longer on the team, there’s a clearer path to more touches.

Secondly, projected starter Dexter Williams is very good when healthy, but that is the exact problem: can he stay healthy?

Armstrong showed glimpses of what he can do in the Spring game, when he ran for 48 yards and a touchdown on just five carries. If that translates into the season, Armstrong will earn himself a few extra carries. Plus, there’s also a chance he can still contribute in the receiving game as well.

1. Troy Pride Jr, Cornerback 

Pride had himself a very impressive Spring that got a lot of people talking.

In addition to football, Pride is also on the track and field team. His incredible athletic ability and explosive speed led him to finishing seventh in the 100 meter at the ACC Track and Field Championships. Pride’s great spring also contributed to our own Nathan Erbach suggesting Pride overtakes Julian Love as the team’s number one cornerback. 

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While I’m not quite sure that will happen, I could absolutely see him overtaking Shaun Crawford. I see Pride increasing last year’s 22 total tackles in 2018, and it wouldn’t shock me to see that number near double. There’s no doubt in my mind that Troy Pride Jr. will have a massive impact on the team.