Blue and Gold Illustrated

March 2021

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

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20 MARCH 2021 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED 2021 FOOTBALL RECRUITING ISSUE BY MIKE SINGER P er Rivals, Notre Dame signed three top-100 re- cruits for the 2021 class, but CBS Sports national re- cruiting analyst Tom Lemming had five listed on his own top-100 list. La Mesa (Calif.) Helix Charter quarterback Tyler Buchner (No. 13 overall per Lemming), plus offen- sive lineman Rocco Spindler (No. 25) from Clarkston (Mich.) High and Blake Fisher (No. 34) from Avon (Ind.) High are on both lists. Lem- ming also had wide receiver Deion Colzie (No. 53) from Athens (Ga.) Academy, linebacker Prince Kollie (No. 89) of Jonesborough (Tenn.) Da- vid Crockett and wide receiver Lo- renzo Styles Jr. (No. 94) of Pickering- ton (Ohio) Central inside his top 100. Lemming listed 49 prospects in the 2021 cycle as five-star prospects, and the Irish boasted three of them in Buchner, Fisher and Spindler. Blue & Gold Illustrated spoke with Lemming to get a national perspective of the Irish recruiting class. Here's the rundown of what he had to say on Notre Dame's class, which includes thoughts on the impact new defen- sive coordinator Marcus Freeman will have, signees who could play right away as true freshmen, the strongest position group of the class and more. BGI: What are your overall impres- sions of Notre Dame's 2021 recruit- ing class? Lemming: "It's outstanding, a top- 10 class. I thought they did a really good job, they always do well offen- sively. Defensively, they struggled to land impact players. This is where Marcus Free- man can make an im- pact. Getting him is like bringing in a five-star recruit. You'll see a big improvement with more defensive impact play- ers. They've always done well with the offensive line and tight end. With the addition of [assis- tant coach] Lance Taylor, they've done a great job at running back too. At quarterback, hopefully Buchner will be the guy. "It's another really good offensive group, and that's what made it a top- 10 class. It's a typical Notre Dame class. It's not up there with Alabama — no one was near Alabama's 2021 class. The elite five recruiting schools right now are Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson, Georgia and LSU. That's what Notre Dame aspires to be at, and with the addition of Marcus Freeman, that could help them. "Whenever you're in the top 10, it's outstand- ing. It's going to keep N o t re D a m e e x a c t l y where they are right now. You need a great quar- terback to win a national title, and maybe Notre Dame has that now." BGI: What are your thoughts on Notre Dame hiring Freeman? What recruiting im- pact will he have? Lemming: "Since they hired Mar- cus, they've offered an avalanche of prospects. That will be key. When you're Notre Dame, that will hap- pen. Offering a lot of these guys early in the 2022 class could help them bounce into the top five. "I knew Marcus 17 years ago. I selected him for the U.S. Army All- American Game in January of 2004. What I recognized about him was that he was the leader of the group. The other kids gravitated toward him. A lot of people liked him. "From what I knew about him at Cincinnati, he was the premier re- cruiter. If he can recruit good players there — which he did — then I'd imagine he could get a couple of five- star players per year at Notre Dame. If you can get him doing it, the other coaches will see what he's doing and feed off of it. Sometimes, that's all you need. I doubt he stays there re- ally long, because if he's successful right away, then people will want him as a head coach." BGI: Which Irish signees do you think could play early? A CONSENSUS TOP-10 HAUL Longtime national recruiting analyst Tom Lemming breaks down Notre Dame's 2021 class Lemming ranked six Fighting Irish signees among his top 100 players nationally, including wide receiver Lorenzo Styles Jr. (No. 94). PHOTO COURTESY RIVALS.COM "Whenever you're in the top 10, it's out- standing. It's going to keep Notre Dame exactly where they are right now. You need a great quarterback to win a national title, and maybe Notre Dame has that now." LEMMING

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