Sport: Notre Dame 99-to-0: No. 7 Audric Estime, sophomore running back, No. 2 on the shortened depth chart

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Listed measurements: 5-foot-11 ½, 228 pounds. 2022-23 year, eligibility: A sophomore, Estime has three seasons of eligibility remaining after appearing in 12 games last season, though largely on special teams. Depth Chart: Injuries have moved Estime up the depth chart this offseason. If all backs were healthy, he would be No. 3 or perhaps even No. 4 on the depth chart, but with sophomore Logan Diggs (labrum) out for at least some of September and early-enrolled freshman Jadarian Price (Achilles) for the season, Estime will take the field at Ohio State as backing up only junior Chris Tyree. Recruiting: Estime committed to Michigan State three months before the early signing period in December of 2020, and that decision seemed firm despite offers from Iowa State, Virginia Tech and Texas A&M. Then Notre Dame offered him a scholarship two days before the signing period commenced, and by the end of the week, the consensus four-star recruit and No. 6 running back in the country, per rivals.com, had changed his mind, joining the Irish.

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  Notre Dame 99-to-0: No. 7 Audric Estime, sophomore running back, No. 2 on the shortened depth chart © Provided by NBC Sports

CAREER TO DATE Estime may have played in 12 games last season, but he took all of 18 offensive snaps. Seven of those included him rushing for a total of 60 yards.

2021: 12 games; seven rushes for 60 yards including six carries for 61 yards against Georgia Tech.

In the Blue-Gold Game to conclude spring practices, Estime took 13 carries for 59 yards.

NAME, IMAGE, LIKENESS

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QUOTES The next time a quote is offered regarding Estime that does not reference his size or ability to break tackles will be the first time.

Only a week into being Notre Dame’s head coach, after viewing just a couple practices where he was also vaguely in charge of the offense, Marcus Freeman couldn’t help but acknowledge those aspects.

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“Audric has done a good job,” Freeman said in mid-December. “He’s a big, physical running back. He was punishing a couple people yesterday.”

After the spring finale, running backs coach Deland McCullough also mentioned the obvious.

“Audric is impressive, his ability to break tackles, his attention to detail, the fundamentals and the technique that he operates with, the great attitude,” McCullough said. “Big guy like that, he didn’t really get to show it as much today, but this guy can run really good routes.”

Estime can display that route-running another time. It will be understandable if offensive coordinator Tommy Rees focuses on the bruising aspect of Estime’s game to start the season.

WHAT WAS PROJECTED A YEAR AGO “It is worth considering Notre Dame’s fourth running back in recent seasons. Unlike most rushing stats, these are hardly skewed by the Irish enjoying such a mobile quarterback the last three seasons, because when the offense turned to a running back four lines down the depth chart, it was usually at a point or situation in the game when Ian Book was not putting his body on the line, anyway.

“Due to Jafar Armstrong’s struggle getting back to full health in 2020, Notre Dame did not really use a fourth running back last year, but in 2019, Jahmir Smith finished with 42 rush attempts and Flemister had 48, both nominally behind Tony Jones and Armstrong on the depth chart. In 2018, Avery Davis (still a running back in those days), had 22 carries in nine games.

“Estime will get some chances as a freshman, particularly since his style bears some resemblance to Smith’s and Flemister’s. What he does with them will be the bigger question, given he is unlikely to match his final high school stat line, averaging nearly 10 yards per carry.

“… Forecasting Estime’s debut campaign, 30 carries for 170-180 yards and two touchdowns would be a worthwhile baseline. …

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“(Kyren) Williams will head to the NFL after this season, and given Tyree is positioned to take over as the lead back in 2022, (C’Bo) Flemister will be best served by transferring elsewhere for one final year, one in the primary role.

“Suddenly, Estime will have gone from fourth-string perk to 1B on the depth chart. That modest 2021 prognostication will grow two- or threefold by 2022.”

Inside the Irish

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2022 OUTLOOK If Estime proves both capable of picking up first downs and durable under the burden of double-digit carries each week, then Notre Dame’s 2022 prospects will rise. If Estime cannot handle that workload well, the Irish offense will simply not have enough skill position players to run a productive approach all season.

A Diggs full-go return by the end of September would mitigate the impact of a struggling Estime, but the dearth of depth at running back would likely catch up to Notre Dame in time.

Those may seem exaggerated standards for a sophomore with seven career carries to his name, but that is the drastic nature of the Irish running backs room at the moment. Tyree, Estime and incoming freshman Gi’Bran Payne are the only healthy ball carriers entering the preseason. Tyree and Estime need to handle the workload between the two of them to start the season, while also running some routes to spell Notre Dame’s few receivers. (One could not fault the Irish coaching staff if it put a red jersey on Tyree for the preseason to protect him from injury.)

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In September alone, Estime should get at least 25 carries. If he is getting more than that, then it can be presumed he is picking up first downs and running over defenders as his physique suggests he should. At that point, Diggs’ need will be lessened, and he can be sure his shoulder is completely healthy before taking a handoff.

Too little has been seen of Estime on the field to offer a prediction for how his season will go, but only one look at the Irish depth chart makes it clear the impact he will have, one way or the other.

DOWN THE ROAD The shelf life of running backs will force Tyree to consider the NFL after this season, but regardless of his choice, there should be an increased role for Estime in 2023.

If Tyree returns for his senior season, fewer carries will strengthen his future pro prospects, meaning Notre Dame will turn to Estime and/or Diggs to buttress the backfield.

Frankly, the Irish would always prefer to lean on three running backs and turn to a fourth for mop-up duty, underscoring the current concerns at the position.

NOTRE DAME 99-TO-0

From Blake Grupe to Braden Lenzy, the offseason countdown begins anew

No. 99 Blake Grupe, kicker, Arkansas State transfer

No. 99 Rylie Mills, junior defensive lineman, a tackle now playing more at end

No. 98 Tyson Ford, early-enrolled freshman, a defensive tackle recruited as a four-star end

No. 97 Gabriel Rubio, sophomore defensive tackle, still ‘as wide as a Volkswagen’

No. 92 Aidan Keanaaina, a junior defensive tackle who tore his ACL in March

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No. 91 Josh Bryan, sophomore kicker

No. 91 Aiden Gobaira, early-enrolled freshman defensive end, four-star recruit

No. 90 Alexander Ehrensberger, junior defensive end, a German project nearing completion

No. 88 Mitchell Evans, sophomore tight end

No. 87 Michael Mayer, junior tight end, likely All-American

No. 85 Holden Staes, incoming freshman tight end

No. 84 Kevin Bauman, junior tight end

No. 83 Jayden Thomas, sophomore receiver, former four-star recruit

No. 80 Cane Berrong, sophomore tight end coming off an ACL injury

No. 79 Tosh Baker, one of four young Irish offensive tackles

No. 78 Pat Coogan, sophomore center, recovering from a meniscus injury

No. 77 Ty Chan, incoming offensive tackle, former four-star recruit

No. 76 Joe Alt, sophomore starting left tackle

No. 75 Josh Lugg, sixth-year offensive lineman, likely starting right guard

No. 74 Billy Schrauth, early-enrolled freshman offensive guard coming off foot surgery

No. 73 Andrew Kristofic, senior offensive tackle-turned-guard

No. 72 Caleb Johnson, sophomore offensive tackle, former Auburn pledge

No. 68 Michael Carmody, junior offensive line utility man

No. 65 Michael Vinson, long snapper, ‘Milk’

No. 65 Chris Smith, defensive tackle, Harvard transfer

No. 59 Aamil Wagner, consensus four-star incoming freshman offensive tackle

No. 58 Ashton Craig, incoming freshman center

No. 57 Jayson Ademilola, fifth-year defensive tackle, coming off shoulder surgery

No. 56 Joey Tanona, early-enrolled offensive guard coming off a concussion

No. 56 Howard Cross, senior defensive tackle with heavy hands, and that’s a good thing

No. 55 Jarrett Patterson, fifth-year offensive lineman, three-year starting center, captain

No. 54 Jacob Lacey, senior defensive tackle, now lighter and a starter

No. 54 Blake Fisher, sophomore starting right tackle, ‘ginormous’

No. 52 Zeke Correll, senior center or perhaps left guard

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No. 52 Bo Bauer, fifth-year linebacker, Ironman

No. 50 Rocco Spindler, sophomore offensive guard

No. 48 Will Schweitzer, sophomore end-turned-linebacker

No. 47 Jason Oyne, sophomore defensive end-turned-tackle

No. 44 Junior Tuihalamaka, early-enrolled freshman linebacker, consensus four-star recruit

No. 44 Alex Peitsch, junior long snapper

No. 42 Nolan Ziegler, early-enrolled freshman linebacker, Irish legacy

No. 41 Donovan Hinish, incoming freshman defensive tackle, Kurt’s brother

No. 40 Joshua Burnham, early-enrolled freshman linebacker-turned-end

No. 34 Osita Ekwonu, senior Vyper end coming off an Achilles injury

No. 31 NaNa Osafo-Mensah, senior defensive end

No. 29 Matt Salerno, fifth-year receiver, punt returner, former walk-on

No. 28 TaRiq Bracy, fifth-year starting nickel back

No. 27 JD Bertrand, senior linebacker recovering from a plaguing wrist injury

No. 25 Philip Riley, sophomore cornerback

No. 25 Chris Tyree, junior running back, possible Irish bellcow

No. 24 Jack Kiser, senior linebacker, second-year starter

No. 23 Jayden Bellamy, early-enrolled freshman cornerback

No. 22 Justin Walters, sophomore safety

No. 22 Logan Diggs, sophomore running back with a shoulder injury

No. 21 Jaden Mickey, early-enrolled freshman cornerback

No. 20 Jadarian Price, early-enrolled freshman running back with a ruptured Achilles

No. 20 Benjamin Morrison, freshman cornerback

No. 18 Chance Tucker, sophomore cornerback

No. 18 Steve Angeli, freshman QB, Blue-Gold Game star

No. 17 Jaylen Sneed, early-enrolled linebacker, Rover of the future

No. 16 Brandon Joseph, Northwestern transfer, preseason All-American, starting safety

No. 16 Deion Colzie, sophomore receiver

No. 15 Tobias Merriweather, freshman receiver, forever a memorable recruitment

No. 15 Ryan Barnes, sophomore cornerback

No. 14 Bryce McFerson, freshman punter facing a Harvard challenge

No. 13 Gi’Bran Payne, freshman running back, late recruit

No. 12 Tyler Buchner, sophomore starting QB

No. 12 Jordan Botelho, a defensive end-turned-linebacker

No. 11 Ron Powlus III, sophomore QB providing steadiness to a chaotic room

No. 11 Ramon Henderson, junior cornerback-turned-safety

No. 10 Drew Pyne, junior quarterback

No. 10 Prince Kollie, sophomore linebacker, high school Butkus Award winner

No. 9 Eli Raridon, incoming freshman tight end with a torn ACL

No. 9 Justin Ademilola, fifth-year defensive end, a backup in name only

No. 8 Marist Liufau, senior linebacker returning from a dislocated ankle

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Notre Dame 99-to-0: No. 7 Audric Estime, sophomore running back, No. 2 on the shortened depth chart originally appeared on NBCSports.com

Notre Dame beats LSU for four-star linebacker Jaiden Ausberry out of Baton Rouge .
Jaiden Ausberry's commitment gives Notre Dame a total of 7 four-star linebackers between the classes of 2022 and 2023, the kind of defensive depth that makes most programs envious.Ausberry listed seven finalists in his recruitment, but it likely came down to the Irish and Tigers, despite Alabama, Michigan and Texas A&M being among those seven.

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