The season is just a few days away and we are looking forward to the appetizer on Thursday and the main course on Saturday with some dessert on Monday. Many of us can’t help but imagine how Notre Dame’s season will play out, so here are some of the best guesses as to who will be the MVPs, standouts and impact freshmen for this Irishman this fall.
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Offensive MVP – RB Logan Diggs
The offensive line as a group is going to have a great season. They are young, but experienced, and very talented. The running lanes that will be created are going to be large so going with one of the runners is a good idea, which one will get the most playing time? Logan Diggs should emerge from the pack and be the leader again by the end of the year and thus win Offensive MVP for the Irish.
Defensive MVP – DE Isaiah Foskey
This one is relatively easy. When you have a returning defender with 15.5 career sacks from him, 11 of them last year, it’s not a tough choice. The expectation is that Isaiah Foskey will put up better numbers than he did last season, making him not only Notre Dame’s defensive MVP but also earning him national award recognition.
Offensive Breakdown – WR Jayden Thomas
Jayden Thomas picked up a redshirt in his first season at South Bend, but after impressing during the spring and carrying that into fall camp, he has earned a starting position. The former star of two sports eventually shifted his focus away from playing baseball and focusing solely on football. He has paid off so far and he should do the same for Thomas this season. (This would have been Lorenzo Styles Jr., but his breakout was complete with a touchdown and 136 yards in the Fiesta Bowl.)
Defensive Breakout – DE Rylie Mills
If the defensive line hadn’t been so deep last year, Rylie Mills would have gotten a lot more playing time. However, what he did do was impressive, recording three sacks and 16 total tackles. Even if Mills simply duplicates what he did last year, those numbers are going to look terribly impressive for a player who just got his first real shot at him as a major contributor.
First-year offensive contributor: WR Tobias Merriweather
— Notre Dame Football (@NDFootball) August 8, 2022
In this age of playing against the best player regardless of class, there will always be one freshman who makes an impact. There were several players on the offense last year, offensive tackle Joe Alt, running back Logan Diggs and wide receiver Styles Jr. With the offense being so young overall, it’s going to be tough for a freshman to pull off that kind of role. like the year before. This is a shot in the dark, as no freshmen were at the two safeties, but wide receiver Tobias Merriweather brings the size and talent where he could make an impact early. It may not be early in the season, but when Merriweather gets the chance, he will impress.
First Year Defensive Contributor – Linebacker Junior Tuihalamaka
— Brian Mason (@CoachMaseND) August 16, 2022
Tuihalamaka, the youngest linebacker at the bottom two, wasn’t even the highest-ranked linebacker at his position in the 2022 draft class (Jaylen Sneed). Rankings don’t mean much when you arrive on campus, so Tuihalamaka is the first to break double. That means he’ll get some solid playtime, even if it’s a cleanup chore. Expect Tuihalamaka to perform at a high level when he sees the field.