Notre Dame football adds depth with Penn State RB transfer Devyn Ford

Mike Berardino
South Bend Tribune

SOUTH BEND – Penn State transfer Devyn Ford, whose nickname is “Tsunami,” hopes to make a splash landing in a Notre Dame running backs room already overflowing with talent.

Ford, who fell out of the rotation the past two seasons with the Nittany Lions, announced his decision Friday evening on his Twitter account. The 5-foot-11, 200-pounder, who left Penn State’s program last October after playing sparingly in four games, has two years of remaining eligibility.

Sep 11, 2021; University Park, Pennsylvania, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions running back Devyn Ford (28) runs the ball against the Ball State Cardinals during the fourth quarter at Beaver Stadium. Penn State won 44-13. Mandatory Credit: Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports

The former four-star signee from Stafford, Va., did some of his best work as a freshman in 2019. Gerad Parker, promoted this offseason to Notre Dame’s offensive coordinator, coached wide receivers for Penn State that season and was the passing game coordinator.

After his first two seasons in Happy Valley, Ford had 568 rushing yards, six touchdowns and a 4.8-yard average on 119 carries. He opened his career with a 107-yard debut in a 79-7 win over FCS foe Idaho, and as a sophomore rushed for a team-high 36 yards (on eight carries) in a 38-25 loss to visiting Ohio State.

Al Washington, now coaching Notre Dame's defensive line, was the Buckeyes' linebackers coach from 2019-21.

Over the past two seasons, however, Ford was held to just 98 rushing yards on 21 attempts.

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Penn State coach James Franklin spoke highly of Ford when announcing his departure last Oct. 1.

“I’ve praised Devyn Ford for four years,” Franklin told reporters. “I’ve got a ton of respect for him and I wish him nothing but the best.”

Ford’s opportunities dwindled last season with the emergence of freshman running backs Nicholas Singleton and Kaytron Allen. Ford still contributed as a third-down back and on special teams.

“Devyn Ford is one of my favorites,” Franklin said after a Sept. 17 win at Auburn. “The way he’s handled his entire Penn State career, he’s one of our MVPs.”

Ford, who rushed for 37 yards on seven carries in that 41-12 win at Auburn, arrives at Notre Dame with 666 career rushing yards plus 103 yards on 20 receptions. Ford also has experience as a kickoff returner, averaging 20.6 yards on 17 returns in 2020-21.

Notre Dame’s full-house backfield was part of the reason junior Logan Diggs transferred back home to LSU in recent weeks after two productive seasons in South Bend.

Junior bruiser Audric Estime figures to get the lion’s share of work in coach Deland McCullough’s backfield this fall, especially with Chris Tyree making the switch to slot receiver this spring.

Redshirt freshmen Jadarian Price (Achilles surgery) and Gi’Bran Payne (hamstring issues) should be full-go by the start of training camp in late July, and Jeremiyah Love, a four-star speedster from St. Louis, is expected to enroll in June.

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