The Journal Gazette
Monday, January 04, 2021 7:20 pm

Banks to NFL; Armstrong, Smith in transfer portal

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

Notre Dame left guard Aaron Banks, an All-American and a first-team All-ACC performer, will forego his final seasons of eligibility and declare for the NFL Draft, he announced.

"Though we could not bring a national championship back to Notre Dame during my time here, I am so proud of what we accomplished these past four years and I am ready to pursue my lifetime dream of playing in the NFL," Banks wrote in a social media message.

Banks was a two-year starter and three-year contributor for the Irish after not playing as a true freshman. He could have played as many as two more seasons because of the NCAA's blanket waiver to allow an extra year of eligibility for all players on rosters in 2020.

Banks' departure likely means that the Irish will have only one starting offensive lineman, center Jarrett Patterson, back next season.

In addition to Banks' announcement, Irish running backs Jahmir Smith and Jafar Armstrong have entered the transfer portal. Smith stepped away from football in October in part because of mental health challenges and it was unclear when or if he would return to the field. He had 42 carries for 180 yards and two touchdowns as a redshirt freshman in 2019, his only season as a significant contributor for the Irish.

Armstrong was a major part of Notre Dame's running backs rotation in 2018, totaling 542 yards from scrimmage and seven touchdowns and then was the Week 1 starter at the position in 2019 before a series of injuries derailed his season and opened the door for Tony Jones Jr.'s breakout campaign. In 2020, he was buried on the running back depth chart, moved back to wide receiver and caught just three passes for 38 yards. He enters the transfer portal as a receiver.

Notre Dame's top three running backs, Kyren Williams, Chris Tyree and C'Bo Flemister, all of whom had at least one 100-yard performance this season, will be back in 2021.

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