2021 Notre Dame Football Preview lineup: Everything you need to know about the upcoming season

Notre Dame takes the field for the 2021 College Football Playoff Rose Bowl game on Jan. 1, 2021, inside AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The Irish kickoff the 2021 season Labor Day weekend at Florida State.

After a COVID-19 year that saw Notre Dame snap defending national champion and No. 1 Clemson’s 36-game regular season win streak, go undefeated in its only regular season as a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference and lose to eventual 2020 national champion Alabama in the College Football Playoff, the 2021 Irish are poised to establish a new identity.

Gone is three-year starting quarterback Ian Book, the winningest signal caller in program history with 30 victories. Gone is a veteran offensive line that saw three of its members — four if you include run-blocking specialist TE Tommy Tremble — taken in the 2021 NFL Draft. Gone is unanimous All-American rover Jeremiah Owusu-Karamoah, considered a second-round steal by the Cleveland Browns.

Back, as currently planned, will be a Notre Dame Stadium full of fans, a conference-independent status and a team filled with hope as new players prepare for their shot under the Golden Dome.

Over the next week ND Insider will roll out its 2021 Notre Dame Football season preview. Here is what you can expect:


Notre Dame Brian Kelly emphasizes his smile during a Zoom conference call in October 2020 regarding a question about safety Kyle Hamilton.

20 questions with Notre Dame football coach BRIAN KELLY, who is expected to become the program’s winningest coach in 2021


Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton was a starter as a true freshman and an All-American as a sophomore.

Getting to know All-American junior safety KYLE HAMILTON, the unquestioned star of the Notre Dame defense

Wisconsin transfer Jack Coan (17), shown during here during the Blue-Gold Game, is the presumed replacement at quarterback for the graduated Ian Book who won 30 games as an Irish starter.

QUARTERBACKS BREAKDOWN: Grad transfer Jack Coan is expected to be the starter, but will sophomore Drew Pyne or freshman Tyler Buchner get their chance?

Notre Dame safety Houston Griffith, right, took his name out of the transfer portal and will provide the Irish more stability in their defensive backfield.

SAFETIES BREAKDOWN: Kyle Hamilton's the star, but can Houston Griffith also shine?


Notre Dame and Wisconsin will play Sept. 25 at Soldier Field in Chicago.

► SCHEDULE ANALYSIS: Which games highlight Notre Dame’s return to independent status?

Notre Dame's Avery Davis, shown here in the ACC Championship game against Clemson, distinguished himself as a top receiver in spring practice.

► WIDE RECEIVERS BREAKDOWN:Can Avery Davis return to the anchor unit?

Notre Dame's Clarence Lewis (26) saw significant time at cornerback last season and is projected as a starter in 2021.

► CORNERBACKS BREAKDOWN: Irish can't hide from group's inexperience


Notre Dame running back Kyren WIlliams emerged in 2020 as one of the top running backs in the country.

► KYREN WILLIAMS, who emerged as a star in 2020, reflects and builds on a profound turning point.

Notre Dame running back Chris Tyree wants to find a larger role in the Irish offense in his sophomore season this fall.

► RUNNING BACKS BREAKDOWN: Beyond Williams there is depth in the backfield.

Notre Dame’s Isaiah Foskey (94) celebrates a blocked punt during the ND's 45-24 romp at Stanford on Nov. 30,

► DEFENSIVE LINE BREAKDOWN: Impressive development keeps Notre Dame loaded with options.


Clarkston (Mich.) High's Rocco Spindler, a four-star offensive lineman in the 2021 recruiting class, is expected to see amble playing time as a freshman.

► FRESHMEN TO WATCH: Last year it was Michael Mayer. Which freshmen will burst onto the scene in 2021?

Notre Dame’s Josh Lugg will provide versatility on the offensive line in 2021.

► OFFENSIVE LINE BREAKDOWN: Don’t be surprised to see young faces up front.

Notre Dame tight end Michael Mayer (87) emerged as one of the best tight ends in the country as a true freshman and will likely be relied on heavily as a sophomore.

► TIGHT ENDS BREAKDOWN: Loss of Tremble opens up depth questions.


Marcus Freeman was one of the most sought-after assistant coaches in college football last season. Coming from Cincinnati, Freeman is expected to bring intensity as Notre Dame's new defensive coordinator.

► New defensive coordinator MARCUS FREEMAN is a rising star, and resonates at Notre Dame before coaching his first game

Notre Dame linebacker Bo Bauer celebrates his interception with teammates against Pittsburgh last season at Heinz Field.

► LINEBACKERS BREAKDOWN:Intensity to be the hallmark of this year’s group.


► FRESHMAN PROFILES: Meet the newest members of the Irish.

Notre Dame's Jonathan Doerer (39) lines up an extra point kick against Alabama in the College Football Playoff Rose Bowl game  Jan. 1, 2021 in Arlington, Texas. Doerer's field goal make percentage slipped last season.

► SPECIAL TEAMS BREAKDOWN:Can consistency, explosiveness become an identity?

SUNDAY, Aug. 1

► STAFF PREDICTIONS: How will the Irish do in 2021? Our ND Insider writers have some thoughts.

► TOM NOIE:A return to normal as Kelly creeps up on Notre Dame history.