The deadline for college football players to declare their intentions to head to the NFL or return to school has now passed. Notre Dame was impacted by those decisions, as were many of the 2021 Fighting Irish opponents.
Let’s take a look at which underclassmen are leaving and what key players made the decision to return. (Note: This only includes players who had eligibility remaining beyond the NCAA granting everyone an extra season)
Leaving: LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, TE Tommy Tremble, OL Aaron Banks
Notre Dame lost a unanimous All-American (Owusu-Koramoah) and a consensus All-American (Banks), who both bypassed potential fifth seasons to take their talents to the NFL Draft. Tremble leaving was a bit of a surprise, but going through another year of not being used appropriately apparently didn’t seem overly enticing to the talented tight end.
There were no surprise returns for Notre Dame, whose two most prolific returners (Kyle Hamilton, Kyren Williams) are not eligible for the draft.
Leaving: CB Asante Samuel Jr, DE Josh Kaindoh
Samuel was a first-team All-ACC this past season, and he would have undoubtedly been Florida State’s best cover player next season. Injuries kept Kaindoh, a former five-star recruit, from ever panning out. He had a fifth-year opportunity for 2021, but he chose to go pro instead of coming back and trying to put up production you’d expect from an NFL prospect.
Wide receiver Tamorrion Terry - who racked up over 1,000 receiving yards in 2019 - was not listed among the early entries despite leaving Florida State during the season. I’m not sure if that means he plans to return to Florida State, if he is now in the transfer portal or if it was simply an oversight.
Leaving: WR Rondale Moore
The decision by Moore to go pro wasn’t at all surprising, and despite him being incredibly talented, it’s not really a big loss for the Boilermakers. Moore played just seven of the team’s 18 games the last two seasons, so they are used to playing without him. Of course, had he decided to return and if he stayed healthy he would have been one of the nation’s best playmakers.
Leaving: CB Rachad Wildgoose
Wildgoose was a two-year starter for the Badgers, but he missed all but two games in 2020. Instead of returning for his senior season, the Miami native decided to turn pro. Top tackler Jack Sanborn and tight end Jake Ferguson were the only other juniors who might have considered going pro, but both are coming back.
Leaving: OL James Hudson
Hudson was Cincinnati’s best blocker this season, and according to Pro Football Focus he didn’t give up a single sack this season and allowed just six total pressures. The Michigan transfer had a fifth-season option but he decided to go pro instead.
Cincinnati got big news when quarterback Desmond Ridder and defensive end Myjai Sanders announced their decision to return in 2021.
Leaving: CB Caleb Farley, OL Christian Darrisaw
Farley opted out this season, so losing him is something they have already had to do. Darrisaw was the only non-Notre Dame tackle who was in the same league as Liam Eichenberg this season. He’s an outstanding dual-threat blocker and is considered by most draft analysts to be a first-round pick.
Leaving: WR Amon-Ra St. Brown, OL Alijah Vera-Tucker, DT Jay Tufele, DT Marlon Tuipulotu, CB Olaijah Griffin, S Talanoa Hufanga
No team on Notre Dame’s schedule was more ravaged by NFL departures than was USC. St. Brown was a big-time playmaker for USC the last two seasons, and while losing him is a huge blow it was not at all unexpected. In fact, none of the losses were surprising, but they are still very big blows for USC. The only player that really doesn’t hurt USC is the loss of Tufele, since he opted out before the season.
Leaving: RB Javonte Williams, WR Dyami Brown
While North Carolina can’t match USC’s numbers, their two underclass losses were huge. Williams was a second-team All-American according to the Associated Press and Sporting News after rushing for 1,140 yards and 19 touchdowns this season. Brown was the top pass catcher in the ACC, hauling in 55 passes for 1,099 yards and eight scores in just eight games. Combine that with the losses of Michael Carter, Dazz Newsome and Chazz Surratt and the Tar Heels lose a ton from their 8-4 squad.
Leaving: QB Davis Mills, WR Simi Fehoki, OL Drew Dalman, CB Paulson Adebo
Losing Mills was a tough loss for Stanford. He was finally healthy this season and had developed into one of the better quarterbacks in the Pac 12, passing for 301.6 yards per game while leading Stanford to four straight wins to end the 2020 season. Losing wideout Simi Fehoko was also a tough loss. The loss of Adebo happened before the season when he opted out, so Stanford is already used to playing without him.
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