With Notre Dame football having an up and down season, how heavily should the Irish look into the transfer portal this upcoming offseason?
Notre Dame football has numerous position groups that can contend with the best of them around the nation. For those that aren’t quite up to snuff, the Irish don’t exactly have time to wait for all of coach Freeman’s guys to get to campus in hopes of an improvement. The ability to transfer for student-athletes has always been there; given the more relaxed restrictions, it’s now a booming market for finding new talent.
Given academic standards, Notre Dame has typically been left on the sidelines, so to speak, in recruiting student-athletes from other schools. However, given the ease with which an athlete can enter the portal these days, more players are available that fit the Notre Dame mold. Given that, the Irish should figure out how to land a transfer one way or another if it meant elevating the team to new heights.
If Caleb Williams or Quinn Ewers had seen Notre Dame as a fit last year, you may think the team and school would’ve jumped at the opportunity. However, coach Freeman didn’t want to rock the boat too much in his first year. As a first-year coach, it wouldn’t be the best look to immediately bring in a new and revamped team, especially at certain positions. Losing Kyle Hamilton, it’s easy to justify bringing in Brandon Joseph. Losing Jack Coan and having sophomore sensation Tyler Buchner get his confidence dragged through the mud early by bringing in a replacement wouldn’t be ideal.
Last year the portal, according to 247Sports, saw 5 5-star and 95 4-star players transfer to new schools. Brandon Joseph, Caleb Williams, Quinn Ewers, Jordan Addison, Eli Ricks, Jahmyr Gibbs, and Jaxson Dart, to name a few. Speaking of top transfers, Director of Recruiting at 247Sports Steve Wiltfong seems to think there are some players lining up their destinations already. Pretty interesting stuff and not the least bit surprising.
With a new coach comes the need to project confidence. Confidence in your players and around the program that you believe in your team. Though no player, current or recruit, should be afraid of competition if they’re a competitor. Coach Freeman and Rees need to do everything possible to increase talent throughout the Notre Dame football program. Quarterback, defensive back, defensive line, and kicker are just a few of the positions they should explore.
With an extremely young secondary and the assumption of losing some guys along the defensive line, the portal should be thoroughly combed through on the defensive side of the ball. The Kenny Minchey possibility is excellent, but if you expect a freshman to be the savior of Notre Dame football, I have news for you, you’re going to be disappointed. Though that does mean another quarterback is in the room and ready to compete. It gives the Irish flexibility moving forward, whether for a stopgap quarterback for one year or a more long-term focus.
My guess is we’ll see the Irish bring in a handful of impactful transfers at key positions throughout the offseason. Again, this has absolutely nothing to do with the stellar recruiting Freeman has done or the incredible talent currently on the roster. It’s about bringing in guys that can make a difference instantly.
We’ve seen how well Freeman and his staff can recruit, but not all freshmen can be impactful players when they first step foot on campus. Injecting talent from around college football into Notre Dame is exactly what this team needs.