As expected, popular Notre Dame running back Audric Estime announced this week that he is entering the 2024 NFL Draft. The powerhouse ball carrier will bypass the Irish’s upcoming Sun Bowl engagement against Oregon State. Estime joins a growing list of Notre Dame starters that will miss the Sun Bowl on Dec. 29. Others are quarterback Sam Hartman, right tackle Blake Fisher, left tackle Joe Alt, and linebacker Marist Liufau.
Estime, a junior shared his announcement on X, formerly known as Twitter. “First, I want to start by saying how thankful I am to be part of such a great and loving community like Notre Dame. Playing in front of the best fans in the world every Saturday was a dream come true. Notre Dame’s high standards of excellence helped me become who I am today.
“To all the coaches, teammates, and athletic trainers along the way, I’m thankful to have had your guidance to help me excel at this game. Coach Freeman, thank you for allowing me to be a part of this great team where I made friendships and memories that I will cherish forever. To Coach Deland, I am so thankful to you for giving me an opportunity of a lifetime, and being a great mentor in my life. Right when we united, we sat down and made a plan. This is me executing that plan with the help and loving support of my family and friends who have been with me every step of the way.
“After a lot (of) thought and consideration, I have made the decision to leave school early and opt out of our bowl game to pursue a lifelong dream of mine. I am officially declaring for the 2024 NFL Draft. I have always pictured myself competing at the highest level, and with that comes preparation. So, for the next couple months, I will be following the journey that God is envisioning for me.
“While I won’t be playing in the Sun Bowl, I do plan to be in El Paso to support my Notre Dame family and I hope to see you there!” Love Thee, Audric Estime.
A Lasting Impact for Audric Estime
As a sophomore last season, Estime emerged as Notre Dame’s rushing leader. He rushed for 920 yards a year ago and scored 11 touchdowns on the ground, with a per-carry average of 5.9 yards. He also had 135 receiving yards and accumulated more than 1,000 yards from scrimmage.
In a stellar 2023 season, Estime exceeded 1,000 rushing yards. In starting all 12 games, he gained 1,341 yards (6.4 average) on 210 carries and scored 18 touchdowns. The bell cow back proved especially productive in Notre Dame Stadium. At home, he rushed for 781 yards on 126 carries with nine touchdowns. In addition, Estime caught 17 passes on the season for 142 yards. He concludes his three-year run at Notre Dame with 2,321 yards rushing and 29 touchdowns. He appeared in all 37 games during his time in the program and made 14 starts over the past two years.
Estime had many memorable clutch moments in 2023. On an unforgettable play in a win over Duke in September, Estime took it to the house with the Irish trailing 14-13 with just :31 seconds remaining. He slipped through a crowded line of scrimmage, hit a cutback lane, and powerfully sprinted 30 yards into the end zone. The impressive score capped a 95-yard game-winning drive. A successful two-point conversion secured a 21-14 Notre Dame victory over the Blue Devils.
Saving the Best For Last
In his final game in Notre Dame blue and gold, he went out in style. Against Stanford in the final regular season game, Estime rushed for a career-high 238 yards on 25 carries. He became the first Notre Dame running back to record 200 yards or more since Dexter Williams in 2018. He also broke the school record for rushing touchdowns in a season with 18.
Estime had some extra incentive to make a statement in his final game. He was notably left off the list of semifinalists for the Doak Walker Award, which is given to the best running back in college football. As a result, he had something to prove. His performance spoke volumes. Estime scored a career-high four touchdowns, finding the end zone on runs of 39, six, five, and 25 yards. The exceptional performance marked his fifth game of the season with 100 yards or more.
With Estime turning pro, the Irish backfield has plenty of returning talent and more expected on the way. Irish players projected to return to the position next season are Devyn Ford, Jadarian Price, Gi’Bran Payne, and Jeremiyah Love. Four-star running back recruits expected to sign letters of intent next week include Aneyas Williams and Kedren Young.
Estime’s departure leaves a void in the Irish backfield in the Sun Bowl. Love, a freshman and the team’s second-leading rusher with 346 yards on the season should get valuable reps against Oregon State. Love is expected to take on a larger role for Notre Dame next season. For Estime, he projects to be a mid-round selection in the 2024 NFL Draft. On CBS Sports Draft Prospect Rankings, Estime is listed at No. 161 overall. That places him at No. 8 in the rankings of his position group.
In a collegiate career marked by game-changing moments, Audric Estime leaves behind an indelible impression on the Notre Dame program. Estime is clearly ready for the NFL, and all signs point to a bright future at the next level.