We see it every year, a player who gets very little preseason publicity becomes a crucial part of Notre Dame's success. Running back Kyren Williams and wide receiver Avery Davis are examples from last season while linebacker Asmar Bilal was an example from the 2019 season.
There are six players on our radar for possible sleeper players that could make a big impact for Notre Dame in 2021, and that was the topic of our latest podcast.
There are three players on each side of the ball that we see as fitting this criteria. The more of these players that do in fact step up and produce this season the better it is for Notre Dame.
NOTRE DAME OFFENSE
Lawrence Keys III, Wide Receiver - Keys has had a couple of good moments during his Notre Dame career but I'm expecting him to make a big jump this season. He is an athletic player with impressive route running skills, and we saw him shine throughout the spring. I won't be surprised if Keys is a major part of the rotation at both the slot (Z) and outside (X) positions.
Joshua Lugg, Right Tackle - Lugg is Notre Dame's second most experienced returning lineman and the Irish need him to be a steady part of the line. Lugg has five career starts at right tackle and he impressed during those starts, which came during the 2019 season. He's long and has some punch, but Lugg was unhealthy for much of the 2020 season. If he can stay healthy in 2021 I expect him to become an overlooked but productive player up front.
George Takacs, Tight End - Notre Dame has one of the nation's best tight ends in Michael Mayer, but we all know the Irish staff prefers to play more than one tight end. Takacs heads into fall camp in pole position to take over the No. 2 spot, and in the podcast we discussed some positive intel we are hearing about him from the summer. Takacs is big (6-6, 250), athletic and he is a legitimate pass game weapon, but he must stay focused and confident. If he does .... look out!
NOTRE DAME DEFENSE
Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, Defensive End - With all the NFL linemen up front for Notre Dame in recent seasons it's understandable why Tagovailoa-Amosa has gone overlooked. He's been a good player for Notre Dame but we predict that losing weight and moving outside is going to be the boost the Hawaii native needs to become a more productive player on the Irish defense.
TaRiq Bracy, Cornerback - Bracy struggled mightily last season and ultimately got benched. His mental and technical struggles last season have resulted in many dismissing him as being a factor in 2021, but Bracy had a strong offseason and he remains talented. Notre Dame will need Bracy to be at his best in 2021, and if he is he'll have a major impact on the Irish defense.
Marist Liufau - Liufau is a very athletic player that impressed last season with his speed and motor, but his assignment correctness wasn't always where it needed to be. He'll be in a battle with Shayne Simon for the starting role but Liufau will play whether he starts or not. If he starts tapping into his full potential he gives the defense an explosive and versatile weapon.
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