Notre Dame football: A look at the nose tackle position

What does the Notre Dame football team have returning at the nose tackle position as we continue to look forward to the fall and the 2020 season?

Definitely not the most exciting position on the field, the nose tackle position is next on my list of position previews. I have broken down the entire offense so far, and we are now working through the Notre Dame football team’s defense.

You can find links to articles breaking down the Notre Dame football team’s quarterback, running back, wide receiver, tight end, offensive line, defensive end, defensive tackle and more, here.

Now, let’s talk about the nose tackle position.

Usually tasked with stopping the run and trying to rush the quarterback when possible, the nose tackle is not the sexiest position on the field but it is vital to the defense. Any scheme the defense wants to run, it has to have a strong nose tackle at the core of it.

Notre Dame football returns everyone at the position from last season, with the addition of freshman Aidan Keanaaina.

The depth chart (roughly) at the moment appears to be: Kurt Hinish, Jacob Lacey, Ja’Mion Franklin and then Aidan Keanaaina.

The amount of playing time each of these guys will get is entirely dependent on defensive coordinator Clark Lea’s scheme for that individual game. Starter Kurt Hinish, while he did battle injuries all season long, only appeared in nine games.

The nose tackle position seems to be the first that gets scrapped in favor of another cornerback or linebacker in a third-down situation.

The position is also fluid with the defensive tackle position, which I discussed in my last article here at Slap the Sign, as you may see players listed as a defensive tackle playing the nose tackle or vice versa.

Now, let’s get into an individual breakdown of each player and what they could bring to the Notre Dame defense this fall.

Kurt Hinish

Coming into this fall as the starter again at the nose tackle, Hinish is expected to do more of what he did last season.

Last season, Hinish tallied 15 tackles (seven solo), two sacks and a forced fumble. The senior did not have a huge impact numbers-wise but he did his job admirably to clog up running lanes.

The Pennsylvanian’s best game came against USC in which he registered one tackle, 0.5 sacks, and a forced fumble. Hinish seems to have a knack for the big play and that will be key to the Notre Dame defense this fall.

Jacob Lacey

One of the brightest underclassmen on the Notre Dame football team roster is the sophomore Jacob Lacey.

Appearing in just five games last season, Lacey put up comparable numbers to the starter, Hinish. 14 tackles (seven solo) and 0.5 sacks must have the Notre Dame staff very excited to see what Lacey can do in the future.

There is no doubt that Lacey will play much more this season, and he may even compete with Hinish for playing time. The Kentucky product is the real deal whether he plays at defensive tackle or nose tackle for the Notre Dame football team, and he will be tough to keep off the field.

Ja’Mion Franklin

Third on the depth chart is the junior, Ja’Mion Franklin.

Franklin has never truly got a fair shot a Notre Dame to show what he can do, whether it has been because of injury or lack of playing time. Last season, he appeared in just four games, registering four tackles (three solo).

Unless Franklin makes a big move this offseason, it is tough to see how he will touch the field much this fall. He is talented but considering the talent above him and how much the Notre Dame staff seems to like incoming freshman Aidan Keanaaina, Franklin may end up being a transfer candidate.

Aidan Keanaaina

Lastly, is the freshman Aidan Keanaaina.

Hailing from Denver, CO, Keanaaina is rated by 247sports as a 3-star defensive tackle, however, after watching and reviewing his tape, it is clear that he is a 4-star talent.

Next: Top 5 running backs in Notre Dame history

Keanaaina will be a stud at Notre Dame at some point in his career, but not just yet. He is fourth on the depth chart and a clear redshirt candidate. It will be interesting to see how he does in summer camp, as that is normally telling as to which freshmen earn playing time in the fall.

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