3 biggest storylines for Notre Dame football this spring

Notre Dame quarterback Riley Leonard (13) at Notre Dame spring football practice Thursday, March 7,
Notre Dame quarterback Riley Leonard (13) at Notre Dame spring football practice Thursday, March 7, / GREG SWIERCZ / USA TODAY NETWORK
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The 2023 season had to be considered a success for Marcus Freeman and Notre Dame football. While the Irish obviously had aspirations of making the College Football Playoff, they didn't have any truly bad losses, falling to two ranked teams (Ohio State and Louisville) and at Clemson.

Now, the Irish lose talented gunslinger Sam Hartman to the NFL after he starred one year in South Bend and they replace him with Duke transfer Riley Leonard.

They also lose a handful of elite defenders from a defense that ranked fifth nationally in yards per game. This side of the ball is going to have some big shoes to fill if it wants to field yet another top-10 defense in 2024. That won't be an easy task.

With spring ball upon us, let's take a look at the biggest storylines to follow for Notre Dame.

1. Rushing attack without Audric Estime

Notre Dame's returning running backs have some massive shoes to fill.

Audric Estime is heading to the NFL draft after a breakout junior season with the program in which he rushed for 1,341 yards and 18 touchdowns on 6.4 yards per carry. He also had 17 catches for 142 yards and his versatility and explosiveness were impressive given his 5-foot-11, 227-pound frame.

Now that Estime is gone, the Irish will be tasked with finding his replacement.

Who will take over in the backfield this spring and become the workhorse back or will the posotion battle extend into the summer?

Redshirt freshman Jeremiyah Love is the early favorite to take over after finishing second in carries and yards last season with 71 touches for 385 yards and a score but don't sleep on Jadarian Price or Gi'Bran Payne who weren't too far behind.

The Irish also have the nation's No. 111 overall recruit and fourth-best running back, Kedren Young, coming in. Let's see if he can also make a splash.