Notre Dame football: 3 Class of 2018 recruits who will play immediately – DieHards

Coming off a 10-win season that ended in a bowl win over LSU and welcoming in the No. 10 recruiting class in the nation, Notre Dame football feels like it’s on the precipice of something in 2018.

What exactly remains unclear.

Brian Kelly and his coaching staff face enormous pressure to deliver a more consistent product and deliver a program capable of competing for championships. So 2018 sets up as a fulcrum point for Notre Dame football and that means that the incoming freshman will face even higher expectations than normal.

With roughly 15 starters (depending on how you choose to count who is a starter) returning, the Irish have some playing time available. However, at the same time, they’d like to see newcomers who can push the envelope and create a more competitive environment overall, possibly even usurping a few jobs a long the way.

With that in mind, here’s a look at three Notre Dame freshmen who will make an immediate impact for the Irish in 2018.

RB Jahmir Smith

Jahmir Smith and C’Bo Flemister are both going to have opportunities to get onto the field in 2018, barring something unforeseen. That’s because they’ll be two of four total scholarship running backs on the roster.

The Irish may pull the trigger and convert Jafar Armstrong to running back full-time and may convert other scholarship players to pad the depth, but these two freshmen, Dexter Williams and Tony Jones are the only players who entered this year expecting to carry the ball.

And we’re singling out Smith simply because he has a head start on Flemister. Smith enrolled in January and will have the benefit of a full spring learning the system to stick at No. 3 on the depth chart and earn meaningful carries in the fall.

WR Lawrence Keys III

Notre Dame is bringing in four 4-star wide receivers with the Class of 2018 to add solid depth to a wide receiving corps that will be talented but inexperienced in 2018. However, none have a clearer path to playing time than Lawrence Keys III.

That’s not to say that Micah Jones (who is already on campus), Kevin Austin or Braden Lenzy can’t crack into the rotation. However, the Irish roster is littered with big-bodied receivers and that allows Keys (and to a lesser extent Lenzy) to stand out.

Keys is only 5-foot-10 and 163 pounds, but he makes incredible quick-twitch movements and is remarkably comfortable working out of the slot. There, he’ll really only be competing with Michael Young and Chris Finke for playing time whereas the rest of his freshman counterparts at the position will be vying with more established receivers like Miles Boykin, Chase Claypool and Javon McKinley as bigger receivers.

What will be critical for Keys (the key, if you will), is that he uses this offseason to get stronger without losing any of that quickness. If he can do that, he’ll have chances to make plays in 2018.

LB Jack Lamb

Jack Lamb was a top-100 recruit (No. 99) in the 247Sports composite rankings and he’s already on campus, which should give him a shot at cracking the two-deep at linebacker with Nyles Morgan and Greer Martini graduated from last year’s group.

Lamb is an instinctual player which should help him make some plays this spring to capture the attention of the Notre Dame coaching staff while he gets up to speed with the playbook. He can also earn his way onto the field by being a core special teams performer.

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