Blue and Gold Illustrated

Nov. 9, 2019

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

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40 NOV. 9, 2019 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED FOOTBALL RECRUITING BY MIKE SINGER N otre Dame is off to a red-hot start in the 2021 class. The Fighting Irish have seven com- mitments, all ranked as at least four- star recruits and top-200 prospects nationally per Rivals, and the class was ranked as the No. 1 group in the country entering November. Notre Dame jumped from No. 4 to No. 1 in the 2021 rankings with the commitments of a pair of highly re- garded wide receiver prospects during the weekend the Irish played USC. Athens (Ga.) Academy standout Deion Colzie, who is the No. 6 wide receiver and No. 95 overall prospect in the country according to Rivals, an- nounced his commitment to the Irish just a few hours before Notre Dame kicked off against Southern Cal Oct. 12. Colzie's commitment and the Oct. 13 addition of Pickerington (Ohio) Cen- tral's Lorenzo Styles — Rivals' No. 4 wide receiver and No. 28 overall pros- pect nationally — pushed Notre Dame past Texas, Miami and Ohio State in the Rivals team rankings for the 2021 class. Texas (eight) and Miami (12) have more commitments than the Irish, which makes Notre Dame's jump over them even more impressive. The Fighting Irish are, however, likely to lose one of their class of 2021 commitments. Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy's Greg Crippen, the No. 5 offensive guard and No. 118 prospect in the land per Rivals, is not expected to remain in Notre Dame's class. Crippen visited Michigan early in the fall, and Blue & Gold Illustrated's sources indicate that Notre Dame has not been in much contact — if at all — with Crippen. A mutual separation is expected in the near future. Crippen's decommitment will likely knock Notre Dame out of the top spot in the Rivals rankings, but it's unrealistic to expect the Irish to finish with the nation's top 2021 class. The Rivals rankings formula takes into account the top 20 recruits in each class. If a team has 25 signees, the five prospects with the lowest rating are not considered — only the top 20 are used for the class ranking. The Irish may not even sign 20 pros- pects total in the 2021 class, which would put them at a disadvantage in the Rivals' ranking formula. Take the 2020 class, for example. Notre Dame has 17 commitments in the class and it currently ranks No. 13 per Rivals. If you sort the class rank- ings by average star ranking rather than their point-system formula, Notre Dame has the No. 9 class with a 3.59 listing per player. The Irish's highest-ranked commit- ment in the 2021 class is Avon (Ind.) High's Blake Fisher, the No. 4 offensive tackle and No. 17 overall prospect in the nation per Rivals. He's just on the cusp of five-star status. The Fighting Irish have an elite quarterback committed in La Jolla (Ca- lif.) The Bishop's School gunslinger Tyler Buchner. Rivals ranks him as the No. 8 pro-style quarterback and No. 65 overall player in the country. Through nine games this fall, Bu- chner has thrown for 3,055 yards and 38 touchdowns, and rushed for 1,020 yards and 18 scores on just 81 attempts (12.6-yard average). He accounts for 452.8 yards of total offense per game, an incredible number, and has led The Bishop's School to a 9-0 record. St. Peters (Mo.) Lutheran of St. Charles defensive tackle Gabriel Ru- bio committed to the Fighting Irish in June while he was in South Bend for a visit. He picked Notre Dame over Georgia, LSU, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Texas A&M and several others. Rubio, who is rated as the No. 7 defensive tackle and No. 86 overall recruit in the country by Rivals, has racked up big numbers as a junior. Per The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Rubio has accumulated 89 tackles and 13 sacks to lead St. Charles to a 7-2 record. Hartwell (Ga.) Hart County's Cane Berrong, Rivals' No. 7 tight end and No. 178 overall recruit nationally, picked the Irish over Alabama, Au- burn, Florida, Georgia, LSU, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Texas and many oth- ers. His recruitment blew up in Janu- ary after he ran a 4.53 40-yard dash at the National Combine in San Antonio. Berrong's high school team uti- lizes a run-first offense, and the 6-4, 225-pounder takes his blocking very seriously. He also had notched 29 re- ceptions for 302 yards and three touch- downs through eight games. Notre Dame already has elite offen- sive weapons committed in the 2021 class, and the Irish may be closing in on a pledge from Matthews (N.C.) Weddington's Will Shipley, the No. 1 all-purpose back and No. 53 overall re- cruit in the land per Rivals. He visited Notre Dame for the USC game and was blown away by his experience in South Bend. Notre Dame's start to the 2021 class is certainly exciting, but the Irish staff will need to continue recruiting top talent, especially on defense, and hold its commits until National Signing Day of next year to finish strong. ✦ Avon (Ind.) High offensive lineman Blake Fisher, the nation's No. 4 offensive tackle and No. 17 overall recruit, is Notre Dame's highest-ranked commitment in the 2021 class per Rivals. PHOTO COURTESY RIVALS.COM Notre Dame's 2021 Class Ranks No. 1 According To Rivals RIVALS 2021 TEAM RECRUITING RANKINGS As of Nov. 1 Rk. School Commits 1. Notre Dame 7 2. Texas 8 3. Miami 12 4. Ohio State 6 5. Clemson 5 6. Florida 6 7. USC 4 8. Oklahoma 3 9. Wisconsin 5 10. Oregon 3

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