Notre Dame Football: Players Irish Will Miss the Most in 2013

Randy ChambersAnalyst IJanuary 11, 2013

Notre Dame Football: Players Irish Will Miss the Most in 2013

0 of 5

    Now that the 2012 season is over, Notre Dame will experience a roster change on both sides of the ball. Some have used up all of their eligibility, while others have decided that they have done enough to be able to take their talents to the NFL.

    However players decide to leave South Bend, there are guys who are going to be missed once the 2013 season begins to kick off.

    These players could have been leaders and helped keep the team in check when times got tough. Or they just could have been a wonderful talent on the field that is going to be difficult to replace. Regardless of how guys made their impact felt on the team, the Irish are losing a handful of guys from last year’s squad, and everybody will be missed at one point or another.

    Here are some of the guys who will be missed the most next season by Notre Dame.

Kapron Lewis-Moore

1 of 5

    Why He's Leaving: Graduation

    What He Brought to Notre Dame: Kapron Lewis-Moore was a valuable defensive player and the most experienced lineman on last year’s unit. Being a fifth-year senior, Lewis-Moore was a leader to some of the younger guys and his six sacks last season was a big boost to this defense. When healthy, he was a consistent and productive player throughout his Notre Dame career.

    Why He Will Be Missed: Notre Dame will be just fine on the defensive front with Stephon Tuitt and Louis Nix anchoring the unit, but Lewis-Moore was one of only three Irish players who finished with more than two sacks last year. The Irish must find that third guy on the defensive front who can consistently rush the passer and take the pressure off the rest of the players.

Zeke Motta

2 of 5

    Why He's Leaving: Graduation

    What He Brought to Notre Dame: Zeke Motta brought that toughness and leadership to the defensive backfield. With so many injuries to the secondary last year, Motta was the one who took everybody under his wing and showed the younger players the ropes. He was the glue that made things work.

    Motta was also a dependable player who didn't miss one game during his career, and somebody who could be counted on to help in run support.

    Why He Will Be Missed: Due to injuries, many of the younger guys that saw significant playing time last season will start next year. With that being the case, Irish fans should be more comfortable with the secondary, but the unit will be missing that upperclassman to make sure things run smoothly. One of the younger guys must take the leadership role during camp.

Tyler Eifert

3 of 5

    Why He's Leaving: Declared for the NFL

    What He Brought to Notre Dame: Tyler Eifert was by far the best receiving option Notre Dame had last season. Often used as a security blanket for quarterback Everett Golson, Eifert led the team with 685 receiving yards and four touchdowns.

    Even in 2011 when Michael Floyd was on the team, Eifert was still that productive player who helped make the offense click. He was easily one of the better tight ends in college football the last two years.

    Why He Will Be Missed: The offense should be better next season, especially if Golson continues to develop like I think he will. However, there haven't been many receiving options on this team that have stepped up and emerged as "the guy."

    There is potential at the receiver position, but we need to see guys really take charge next year if this offense is ever going to reach its full potential.

Braxston Cave

4 of 5

    Why He's Leaving: Graduation

    What He Brought to Notre Dame: Braxston Cave has been a starter on the offensive line for Notre Dame since 2010. During 2012, he spent the season as the full-time starter at the center position.

    Due to his mobility and strength, Cave was the key guy to one of the best offensive lines in the country. His play has impressed so much that Mel Kiper Jr. of ESPN has Cave as a top-five senior center in this year’s draft class.

    Why He Will Be Missed: Finding a reliable offensive lineman is never an easy task, especially when the position is center. Probably the most important position on the line, the center and the quarterback must always be on the same page and have enough time to develop a certain level of chemistry.

    What makes things scary for Notre Dame is that Matt Hegarty, one of the potential replacements at the position, is recovering from a stroke and heart surgery. The offensive line is always an issue for teams in spring ball and it will be no different for Notre Dame.

Manti Te'o

5 of 5

    Why He's Leaving: Graduation

    What He Brought to Notre Dame: How about everything? A leader on and off the field, Manti Te'o was more than a football player to this program. This is somebody who provided motivation to the team, coaches and community.

    A Heisman finalist last season, Te'o was a larger-than-life guy on campus and is one of the few people who can never really be replaced. You also have the football side of things where he made countless clutch plays during his four-year career.

    Why He Will Be Missed: As a leader and motivator, Te'o was truly as good as it gets. On the field, it will be hard to find somebody with his playmaking ability and instincts that helped put him in the right place nearly every play. Notre Dame has a few solid linebacker prospects, but none will come as close to being as good or valuable as Te'o was to Notre Dame.