With some highly talented players moving on to the NFL, Notre Dame football must replace some major talent throughout the program. Here are a few predictions for who could be breakout stars for the Fighting Irish next year.
Notre Dame football breakout star – Rylie Mills
I fully believe in Rylie Mills’ ability and talent level. However, I think he just started to scratch the surface of his potential last season. The 6’5” and 300-pound defensive lineman has the coveted size the Irish need up front and has to produce a bit more to bolster the defensive line in a big way. Last year Rylie had 24 tackles, with 6 being for a loss, while adding 3.5 sacks. Some solid numbers, but I fully expect him to take a huge step forward next season.
Given the production the Irish are losing up front with Isaiah Foskey and the Ademilola twins heading to the NFL, Rylie’s step forward is crucial. There should be a couple of others that will step up, and I expect transfer Javontae Jean-Baptiste to play a significant role, but Rylie will be relied on heavily. He should thrive next year, and the Irish will certainly need it.
Notre Dame football breakout star – Jaylen Sneed
Jaylen Sneed, the only former 5-star Notre Dame football on the roster, is primed to see a considerable uptick in snaps and production. Sneed needs to refine his coverage snaps a bit more and continue polishing the mental side of the game. Still, he has the talent necessary to become a star for the Irish.
A 6’2” and 220-pound linebacker with speed and massive strength is exactly what the doctor ordered for this Irish defense. Frankly, I was tempted to put Prince Kollie in this spot, but both players should have massive seasons next year in South Bend. Jaylen played in 4 games, thus preserving a season of eligibility, and he had 7 tackles with half a tackle for loss. Star might be a slight stretch in his second season, but I fully expect him to put up massive numbers next year.
Notre Dame football breakout star – Jaden Greathouse
I keep saying it repeatedly; I think Jaden Greathouse is poised for a big freshman season should he get the opportunity. For now, plenty of capable wide receivers are on this roster and ahead of him on the depth chart. Still, he’s my favorite freshman player of the year for the Irish next season.
His route running is already highly polished, as are his size and strength. Of course, he’ll need to keep trying to add as much speed as possible, as that’s why he fell in the ratings, but this guy is college-ready, period. If Jaden gets the chance, he could quickly become a favorite of Sam Hartman’s; that’s how much I believe in his ability as a true freshman.
Other players could get their own breakout potential articles as we progress toward next season, but I like where these guys stand for now. Given the bodies ahead of him, Greathouse could be a long shot, but that’s why this is fun. Either way, he has a bright future in South Bend.