Blue and Gold Illustrated

March 2020

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

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Page 19 of 83

20 MARCH 2020 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED 2020 FOOTBALL RECRUITING ISSUE BY LOU SOMOGYI F ew events in athletics over the last decade have become more reduced in overall buzz than college football's National Signing Day in February. It once had a Super Bowl-like drama across the country. However, when the early signing period in De- cember began in 2017, the February date became mostly anticlimactic, especially at Notre Dame. The initial early signing period for the 2018 recruiting cycle had a feeling-out element to it. While 21 players did sign with the Fighting Irish that December, six more were still added in February. Last year, 21 signed again in De- cember, with the lone addition in February being defensive end Isaiah Foskey — who had actually silently committed to the Notre Dame staff months earlier, but wanted to par- take in a February signing day cer- emony with his fellow classmates. This year, all 18 Irish recruits signed Dec. 18. From July 5 on, the lone addition — verbally and then signing — was California cornerback Ramon Henderson on Dec. 18. The lone news thereafter was that one of them, Kentucky cornerback Landen Bartleson, had his scholar- ship rescinded after an arrest in Jan- uary (see page 56), leaving the Irish with a class of 17 and national rank- ings in between No. 14 and No. 23. The upshot is the early signing pe- riod reinforces the proper "fits" at Notre Dame (although Bartleson did become an exception) and their com- mitment to the school. However, critics maintain that for the seventh straight year, the Fighting Irish did not sign a consensus top-10 class (see more on pages 56-57), leaving a feeling that the chasm between them and the Clemsons, Alabamas and Ohio States of the world is not closing. Notre Dame does continue to con- sistently recruit at a top-10 to top-15 level, and seldom has been an under- dog the past three years. The perpetual question that re- mains is whether it can ever again recruit at a consistent top-five (or even top-10) level to unseat the first- tier southern powers plus Ohio State — especially with Clemson and Ohio State both on the schedule in 2022 and 2023, when this year's recruiting class becomes juniors and seniors. 2020 NOTRE DAME SIGNEES Name Pos. Ht. Wt. Hometown (High School) Tosh Baker OT 6-7 283 Scottsdale, Ariz. (Pinnacle) Kevin Bauman TE 6-4 226 Red Bank, N.J. (Catholic) Jordan Botelho* DE 6-2 229 Honolulu (St. Louis School) Jay Brunelle* WR 6-1½ 201 Paxton, Mass. (Saint John's) Michael Carmody OT 6-6 292 Mars, Pa. (Mars Area) Alexander Ehrensberger* DE 6-6½ 239 Dusseldorf, Germany (Theodor-Fliedner Gymnasium) Ramon Henderson* CB 6-3 180 Bakersfield, Calif. (Liberty) Jordan Johnson WR 6-2 180 St. Louis (De Smet Jesuit) Aidan Keanaaina DT 6-2¾ 302 Englewood, Colo. (J.K. Mullen) Clarence Lewis CB 6-0 180 Edison, N.J. (Mater Dei) Michael Mayer TE 6-5 234 Independence, Ky. (Covington Catholic) Rylie Mills* DE 6-4½ 250 Lake Bluff, Ill. (Lake Forest) Caleb Offord* CB 6-1 170 Southaven, Miss. (Southaven) Alex Peitsch LS 6-1 205 Ellicott City, Md. (St. John's College) Drew Pyne* QB 6-0 181 New Canaan, Conn. (New Canaan) Chris Tyree RB 5-9½ 179 Chester, Va. (Thomas Dale) Xavier Watts* WR 5-11 185 Omaha, Neb. (Burke) * Enrolled in January EARLY CLOSING Notre Dame's 17-man class had only one change since December Head coach Brian Kelly appreciates that the early signing period in December enables the staff to focus on the following year's class in January, but he is not a fan of the NCAA's recruiting "bump" rule. PHOTO BY PER KJELDSEN

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