Deland McCullough’s options at running back are a lot less fruitful than when he became Notre Dame’s new running back coach in February.
Sophomore Logan Diggs had surgery on April 29 to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder.
His expected return may come “sometime in September”, according to Notre Dame head coach Marcus Freeman.
The position took another hit when freshman Jadarian Price ruptured an Achilles tendon in offseason training and was lost for the 2022 season.
Looking to replace Kyren Williams, a fifth-round pick of the Los Angeles Rams, Chris Tyree could be the answer.
Tyree, a junior, showed flashes of speed and elusiveness in limited action last season, recording 222 rushing yards on 56 carries with one touchdown
and 24 receptions for 258 yards and two touchdowns. One of those came on a 53-yard sprint against Oklahoma State in the 2022 Fiesta Bowl,
when Williams didn’t play to prepare for the NFL Draft. Since then, Tyree has been putting himself in position to be the main ball carrier in Notre Dame’s backfield.
“Since the winter and spring started, I’ve been really pushed so far to be a leader,” Tyree previously told reporters .
“Being a leader here is not just being a leader by example.
It’s been good for me in that I (was) out and not getting reps, so I (had) to be more vocal and tell people what they need to hear.”
Tyree’s role in Notre Dame’s offense became more significant due to the Irish’s inexperience and until Diggs returns.
Behind Tyree is sophomore Audric Estime, who totaled 60 yards on seven carries over 12 games last season,
as well as incoming freshman Gi’Bran Payne, who committed to Notre Dame in April.
Those two guys will need to develop quicker than the Irish expected.
“Thank god we were able to sign Gi’Bran,” McCullough said.
“He’s going to be thrust into some roles probably sooner than he even thought or we even thought, which is great……
You want four running backs that are ready to go. Right now it looks like we’ll have three probably for the first game —
the first couple games, I don’t know. But I think you’ve got three capable running backs to help you win. “
Right now, a lot of that responsibility falls on Tyree’s shoulders. So is helping bring the other young backs along, too.
“I’ve talked to people about that a lot, actually,” Tyree said recently.
“I’ve grown a lot just being that I am the older guy in the room and I’ve got a lot of babies with me.”