Notre Dame's Logan Diggs says he's 'most likely' on track to play in the Blue-Gold Game

Mike Berardino
ND Insider

SOUTH BEND — Notre Dame running back Logan Diggs, after sitting out the past two weeks of spring practice with what he described as a “little tweak in my lower body,” is getting closer to a return.

Diggs, who led the team in carries as a sophomore, suffered the setback on March 24 in the second of 15 scheduled practice sessions this spring.  

“Since then, I’ve just been taking it easy,” Diggs said Thursday. “I’ll start back moving next week. I’ll be back at practice and in drills next week.”

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Diggs said he tested his injury by running on Thursday and “felt really good.” With the team off for Easter weekend, Diggs has a little extra time to rehab before Practice No. 9 on April 12.

Asked if playing in the Blue-Gold Game on April 22 was realistic for him, Diggs said “most likely” it would be.

“I don’t really want to talk about it,” he said of his injury. “It’s nothing major. It’s minor. Just a couple weeks out, and I’ll be back.”

Notre Dame running back Logan Diggs (3) during Notre Dame Spring Practice on Wednesday, March 22, 2023, at Irish Athletics Center in South Bend, Indiana.

Last week, during the media’s only full look at a spring practice session, Diggs was spotted nodding somberly during a conversation with new offensive line coach Joe Rudolph.

“He was just checking on me, checking on my mental (health), to see how I was doing,” Diggs said. “You grow up your whole life playing football. When you’re not playing, sometimes it can be a little difficult, a little frustrating.

“(Rudolph) was just checking on me and giving me some good words. He’s a great guy. I love what he’s doing with the O-line.”

Diggs appreciated the quick pep talk.

“That’s how all the coaches are here,” he said. “They look at us as their sons first. They all act in father- figure ways.”

Audric Estime kicks his fast-food habit

In an effort to streamline his already punishing 228-pound frame, Audric Estime has revamped his diet.

“Last year I really used to eat whatever,” said Estime, Notre Dame’s leading rusher last season. “I liked to eat out a lot. I’ve stayed more strict with my diet and I’m taking care of what I’m eating more and my calories and my supplements. Fast food once a week now. It used to be multiple times a week.”

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His favorite stop? Raising Cane’s in Mishawaka.

“I’m a big Cane’s guy,” Estime said. “Where I’m from in New York, we don’t have Cane’s. Once I got to South Bend, I got hooked.”

Reminded that even The Rock allows himself one “cheat day” each week, Estime laughed.

“Facts,” he said. “You need one.”

South Carolina Gamecocks linebacker Brad Johnson (19) makes a tackle on Notre Dame Fighting Irish running back Audric Estime (7) for a first down on the 7 yard line during fourth quarter action. The University of Notre Dame Fighting Irish took on the University of South Carolina Gamecocks in the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl game in Jacksonville, Florida's TIAA Bank Field Friday, December 30, 2022. The first half ended with South Carolina holding a 24 to 17 lead but Notre Dame came back and with a late fourth quarter touchdown, won the game 45 to 38. [Bob Self/Florida Times-Union]

Estime, who had already cut his body fat percentage from 16 to 10 as of last fall, said he can feel the difference as he goes through spring practice.

“I have a little more twitch,” he said. “I definitely feel quicker, lighter on my feet. My feet are moving a little faster. Cutting a couple pounds of fat definitely helped. When you’re big and strong but you also can move, it’s very hard to stop.”

Healthy Gi'Bran Payne and the return game

Gi’Bran Payne, among the contenders at both kickoff and punt return after redshirting last season, said his right hamstring is no longer an issue.

“I’m fully healthy now, so it’s good to be back and showing what I can do,” he said. “It’s going really well this spring. I’m taking advantage of opportunities that are given to me.”

The former Indiana signee, who landed at Notre Dame after being released from his letter of intent, dealt with hamstring problems for the bulk of 2022 after a high school track injury lingered.

“I never got the proper treatment, so it rolled into summer,” he said. “I was basically starting at zero. I didn’t get to 100% until probably October. That’s when I knew I had my full speed back.”  

A four-star recruit from Cincinnati’s LaSalle High School, Payne rushed twice in the snow on Senior Day against Boston College and was on the field for 20 more plays as a kickoff returner over the final four games.

He appreciates the clean slate new special teams coordinator Marty Biagi offers, and Payne hopes his skill as a returner is his path to playing time this fall.

“I did a lot of return game in high school,” Payne said. “It’s nothing really new to me. It’s just a refresher.”

Notre Dame running back Gi'Bran Payne (13) during Notre Dame Spring Practice on Wednesday, March 22, 2023, at Irish Athletics Center in South Bend, Indiana.

While Chris Tyree and Lorenzo Styles have more experience in kickoff return, Payne could have the right mix of sure hands and breakaway speed to follow Brandon Joseph as the primary punt returner.

“The first thing is securing the ball, but the big thing is getting vertical,” he said. “Getting vertical, people don’t want to take me head-on, full speed. I think I can break a lot of tackles. I don’t like going down on the first hit. That’s a big thing for me in the return this year.”

Chris Tyree Project

Chris Tyree’s transition to full-time wide receiver seems to be going well.

“I think that’s what’s best for him,” Estime said. “He’s been looking good out there. He’s been making plays. Chris is a team player. He’ll do whatever makes the team good. That’s a real positive move for the team.”

Running back Chris Tyree (2) catches a ball during drills Saturday, March 25, 2023, at Notre Dame spring football practice in South Bend.

Redshirt freshman running back Jadarian Price, who remains on target for a summer return after tearing his Achilles tendon last June, likes what he sees in the senior wideout as well.

“There's not many people like Chris Tyree as far as his ability to make guys miss in open space and just get that burst of speed that we need as a team,” Price said. “That speed adds to our offense. It keeps the defense guessing and keeps them going side to side and tires them out. He's a good addition to our receiver room."

Follow Notre Dame football writer Mike Berardino on Twitter @MikeBerardino.