Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
Thursday, May 23, 2024
The Observer

Transfer portal additions make a difference against Central Michigan

It seems fitting that on the same day that former Irish quarterback Tyler Buchner started (and was benched in) his first football game for the Alabama Crimson Tide, the players that transferred into the Notre Dame football program for the 2023 season put together some critical plays for the Irish.  

Defensive End Javontae Jean-Baptiste

The defensive end transfer from Ohio State got a few good hits in this week, slowing down the Chippewas’ running backs. He had one tackle for loss and was credited with three quarterback hurries, the most of anyone on the team. That was definitely one of the highlights for the Irish defense who struggled at times to get Central Michigan quarterback Jase Bauer off the field. The back-up only completed 10 of 20 passes during the game, likely because expected starter Bert Emanuel Jr. was out due to illness. Most of the success of the Central Michigan offense came from running the ball. 

Safety Thomas Harper

There are few universal crowd reactions in a football stadium. The “oooooohhh” that follows watching a safety run at top speed towards a back-turned quarterback to later make a hard hit is one of those few unifiers. That is exactly how graduate student senior Harper caused Bauer to lose control of the football, stalling Central Michigan’s drive and forcing a punt. This is Thomas’ first season at Notre Dame after playing for four years at Oklahoma State. 

Besides his big impact on Bauer on the play, his contributions to the defense have been significant. Harper was fourth on the team during the game for total tackles with four, which include two solo tackles.  

Kicker Spencer Shrader

Shrader missed a 59 yarder for the Irish in the game against Central Michigan, which would’ve been the longest of his career. He already beat his previous long of 52 with the University of South Florida in 2021, last week against NC State. He did make all five of his extra attempts (remaining perfect for Notre Dame in that department) as well two field goals later in the game.  

Quarterback Sam Hartman

Sam Hartman, our savior, our hope. The transfer from Wake Forest has been everything Notre Dame fans wanted and expected him to be. Hartman went 16 for 26 for 330 yards, 3 touchdowns and no picks in this week’s game. He also ran for six yards and one touchdown. 

While Notre Dame will have its first real challenge of the year next week against Ohio State, Hartman’s consistent high level of play has given Irish Nation a lot of confidence in their new, poised quarterback. Hartman is a threat that makes defenses respect the pass in ways they didn’t have to when last year’s quarterbacks — Buchner and Drew Pyne — were under center. His role as captain also shows how much his teammates and coaches value his leadership and other intangible contributions to the team. Sam, any chance you’ll stay in college for a seventh year?  

The transfer portal has been under a lot of scrutiny recently but it seems to have worked out really well for Notre Dame so far this season. 

Sign up for our Observer Sports newsletter! Have an Irish sports question? Ask it for our Observer Sports mailbag!