Blue and Gold Illustrated

February 2019

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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Page 28 of 47 FEBRUARY 2019 29 Washington but did not sign with the Huskies during the early period. With the new 21-man haul, the Irish tentatively stand at 93 scholarship play- ers. This is with the knowledge that senior tight end Alizé Mack, who is eligible for a fifth season in 2019, has already accepted an invitation to play in the Senior Bowl Jan. 26, thereby fore- going his final year in college. Per NCAA rules, the scholarship number must be pared down to 85 by the start of the 2019 season. This can occur through some fifth-year possibili- ties not returning or becoming gradu- ate transfers at another school, players turning pro early, medical reasons or transfer. ✦ Three Preferred Walk-Ons Added Complementing the 21 scholarship players signed Dec. 19 were three preferred walk-ons: 6-0, 170-pound wide receiver Conor Ratigan from Granger, Ind.; 5-11, 185-pound kicker Harrison Leonard, from Jamestown, R.I.; and 6-6, 310-pound offensive tackle Quinn Murphy from Duxbury, Mass. Ratigan is the son of Notre Dame team or- thopedic surgeon Brian Ratigan, who played linebacker for head coach Lou Holtz with the Irish from 1989-92 and briefly in the NFL. The younger Ratigan starred at St. Joseph High School, about a mile from the campus. Ranked as high as the No. 9 kicker nationally by, Leonard will compete with cur- rent sophomore Jonathan Doerer to succeed four-year starter Justin Yoon. Murphy originally committed to Princeton. — Lou Somogyi QUARTERBACK Brendon Clark, 6-2, 210, Midlothian, Va. (Man- chester) Note: Led team to a 15-0 record and Virginia High School League 6A state championship, while passing for 2,327 yards and 35 touch- downs, and rushing for 774 yards and 17 scores. RUNNING BACK Kyren Williams, 5-9, 200, St. Louis (St. John Vianney)* Note: Accounted for 2,760 yards of total of- fense and 40 touchdowns, and led team to Class 5 Missouri state championship. WIDE RECEIVERS Kendall Abdur-Rahman, 6-0, 185, Edwardsville, Ill. (Edwardsville) Cam Hart, 6-3, 190, Baltimore (Good Counsel) Notes: Abdur-Rahman played quarterback as a senior, rushing for 1,135 yards and 19 touch- downs while passing for 647 yards and 15 scores ... Hart is from the same high school as 2018 captain/center Sam Mustipher. OFFENSIVE LINE Quinn Carroll, 6-6, 285, Edina, Minn. (Edina)* Zeke Correll, 6-3, 275, Cincinnati (Anderson)* Andrew Kristofic, 6-5, 275, Gibsonia, Pa. (Pine- Richland)* John Olmstead, 6-4, 280, North Brunswick, N.J. (St. Joseph)* Notes: All four were ranked among the top 250 players in the country by 247Sports … Kristofic is from the same high school as Irish freshman quarterback Phil Jurkovec. DEFENSIVE TACKLES Jacob Lacey, 6-2, 295, Bowling Green, Ky. (South Warren)* Hunter Spears, 6-3, 295, Garland, Texas (Sachse)* Notes: Lacey was named Kentucky 5A State Player of the Year, and his team won the state title … Spears had 24 tackles for loss as senior before tearing his ACL. DEFENSIVE ENDS Howard Cross III, 6-1, 265, Montvale, N.J. (St. Joseph's Regional) NaNa Osafo-Mensah, 6-3, 235, Fort Worth, Texas (Nolan Catholic)* Notes: Cross III was named the New Jersey Gatorade Player of Year in 2018 while leading his team to a state title. His father, Howard Cross Jr., starred at Alabama and played 13 years with the New York Giants (1989-2001) … Osafo-Mensah will play in the All-American Game Jan. 5 in San Antonio. LINEBACKERS JD Bertrand, 6-1, 200, Roswell, Ga., (Blessed Trinity) Osita Ekwonu, 6-1, 220, Charlotte, N.C. (Provi- dence Day School) Jack Kiser, 6-1, 205, Royal Center, Ind. (Pio- neer)* Marist Liufau, 6-2, 205, Kalihi, Hawai'i (Pu- nahou) Notes: Bertrand's team won back-to-back Class AAAA state championships, and so did Kiser in Class A while winning IndyStar Mr. Football … Ekwonu is a consensus top-250 player ... Liufau starred at Manti Te'o's (2009-12) school. CORNERBACKS Isaiah Rutherford, 6-0, 175, Sacramento, Calif. (Jesuit) K.J. Wallace, 5-11, 190, Atlanta (The Lovett School) Note: Both excelled on offense and defense, similar to current freshman cornerback TaRiq Bracy, who saw extensive time as a rookie. SAFETIES Litchfield Ajavon, 5-11 185, Baltimore (Epis- copal) Kyle Hamilton, 6-3, 190, Atlanta (Marist School) Note: Last year, Houston Griffith and Derrik Allen were ranked the No. 43 and No. 135 play- ers nationally by Rivals — the first time since the start of the Rivals era in 2002 two safeties in the top 150 signed with Notre Dame. This year Ajavon (No. 87) and Hamilton (No. 97) were both in the outlet's top 100. PUNTER Jay Bramblett, 6-1, 185, Tuscaloosa, Ala. (Hill- crest)* Note: Ranked among the nation's top five punters by all three major services: 247Sports (No. 2), Rivals (No. 4) and ESPN (No. 5). — Lou Somogyi Head coach Brian Kelly said this year's recruiting process was the most efficient he has experi- enced at Notre Dame. PHOTO BY COREY BODDEN Balanced Attack For the second straight year, Notre Dame's class features a full defense, and then some. The Irish signed two ends, two tackles, four linebackers, two safeties and two corners. On offense, Notre Dame signed one quarterback, one running back, two wide receivers and four offensive linemen. No tight ends were signed in part because two of the top-rated players in the 2017 Notre Dame class — Cole Kmet and Brock Wright — were complemented by two more tight ends last season in George Takacs and Tommy Tremble. Furthermore, two of the three early verbal commits for Notre Dame in 2020 are tight ends: Kevin Bauman and Michael Mayer. "Offensive line and defensive line were the immediate focus," head coach Brian Kelly said. "Then we were looking for length and athleticism on defense. "From an offensive standpoint, continue to build speed on the perimeter." Here is the breakdown by position, with heights and weights coming from the university. An asterisk denotes he will enroll this January.

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