Blue and Gold Illustrated

April 2021

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

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40 APRIL 2021 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED FOOTBALL RECRUITING BY MIKE SINGER A big domino fell in Notre Dame's 2022 class March 4, when Or- adell (N.J.) Bergen Catholic's Steve Angeli — the No. 5 player in New Jersey and the nation's No. 13 pro- style quarterback per Rivals — com- mitted to the Irish. Quarterback com- mits are always known to be lead recruiters among commits for any given school, and Angeli has the per- sonality, temperament and willingness to be a great one on the trail for the Irish. Pundits often say that Notre Dame's biggest weaknesses are out on the edges at wide re- ceiver and cornerback. Angeli has connections to some of the Irish's top targets at both positions. Angeli can look on his own roster at Bergen Catholic to start recruit- ing. The Irish are hot in pursuit of Jaeden Gould, who is rated as a four- star talent and the nation's No. 28 cornerback, and Jayden Bellamy, a three-star who is listed as the No. 52 cornerback in America. During the offseason, Angeli has made a few trips to play with the C h i c a g o - b a s e d s e v e n - o n - s e v e n football team. He's played with La Grange Park (Ill.) Nazareth Acad- emy's Tyler Morris, the No. 8 receiver and No. 78 overall player and in the country, and Chicago St. Rita's Kaleb Brown, the No. 4 athlete and No. 72 overall recruit nationally. Both are top-of-the-board targets for the Irish. Angeli will help recruit every top prospect on the Irish's board and not just the ones he's already familiar with. SKY-HIGH CEILING FOR DEFENSIVE CLASS Notre Dame defensive coordina- tor Marcus Freeman speaks regu- larly with Nashville (Tenn.) Christ Presbyterian Academy's Langston Patterson, the nation's No. 12 inside linebacker. But the way Notre Dame is recruit- ing the linebacker position, Patterson may not have a spot. Omaha (Neb.) Burke's Devon Jackson, a four-star player and Rivals' No. 24 outside line- backer in the country, may not either. Notre Dame can only take so many linebackers and already has a four- star commit in Grand Rapids (Mich.) Catholic Central's No- lan Ziegler, the nation's No. 20 athlete. The Irish appear to be in the driver's seat for Traverse City (Mich.) Central's Joshua Burn- ham, the nation's No. 5 inside linebacker and No. 141 overall prospect; Evanston (Ill.) High's Sebastian Cheeks, the No. 12 outside line- backer and No. 109 over- all prospect in the land; and Mission Hills (Ca- lif.) Bishop Alemany's Niuafe Tuihalamaka, the top inside linebacker and No. 71 overall recruit nationally. On the defensive line, the Irish al- ready have two commitments and are expected to take at least one more edge rusher and another interior players. There are several talented players on the board for just two or three spots. On the interior, Notre Dame's top targets appear to be Queens (N.Y.) St. Francis Prep's Kaleb Artis, a four- star player and the No. 21 defensive tackle in America; Pittsburgh Central Catholic's Donovan Hinish, a three- star prospect and the No. 33 defen- sive tackle in the country; and Scott- sdale (Ariz.) Chaparral's Anthony Lucas, a four-star recruit and nation's No. 26 strong-side defensive end. On the edge, Notre Dame is in pur- suit of Arlington (Texas) Martin's Er- nest Cooper, a three-star recruit and the nation's No. 35 strong-side defen- sive end; Las Vegas Bishop Gorman's Cyrus Moss, the country's No. 2 weak-side defensive end No. 80 over- all recruit; Honolulu Punahou's Teva Tafiti, the No. 8 weak-side defensive end and No. 223 overall prospect na- tionally; and Boonville (Mo.) High's DJ Wesolak, a four-star player and the No. 14 weak-side defensive end in America. The Irish don't have any defensive back pledges yet, but are in strong position for the aforementioned Gould and Bellamy, plus Apopka (Fla.) High's Nikai Martinez, the na- tion's No. 24 cornerback and No. 202 overall player. PLAYMAKERS NEEDED OFFENSIVELY Notre Dame has commitments at quarterback, running back and tight end, and will add another player at the latter two positions. The staff is looking at taking at least a couple re- ceivers in the 2022 cycle, but doesn't have any committed yet. Memphis (Tenn.) Christian Broth- ers' Dallan Hayden, the nation's No. 12 running back and No. 159 overall player; Highlands Ranch (Colo.) Valor Christian's Gavin Saw- chuk, the No. 2 running back and No. 44 overall player; and Shillington (Pa.) Governor Mifflin Senior's Nich- olas Singleton, the No. 9 running back and No. 126 overall recruit, are the top Irish targets on the board at the position to join the already com- mitted Jadarian Price, who is listed as a four-star talent and the No. 5 all- purpose running back and No. 230 overall prospect in the land. At tight end, the Irish have a good dilemma on its hands. Notre Dame has Jack Nickel (nation's No. 34 tight end) from Georgia committed, but is still in strong position for Atlanta Westminster's Holden Staes, a four- star recruit and the No. 14 tight end in America, and West Des Moines (Iowa) Valley's Eli Raridon, a three- star talent and the No. 22 tight end in the land. The Irish are expected to sign two tight ends in the 2022 class. The wide receiver board is wide open at this point. The aforemen- tioned Brown and Morris are at the top of the board, along with Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei's CJ Wil- liams, who is the No. 3 wide receiver and No. 27 overall player; Vancou- ver (Wash.) Union's Tobias Merri- weather, the No. 18 wide receiver and No. 160 overall recruit; and Westerville (Ohio) South's Kaden Saunders, a Penn State commit who is listed as the nation's No. 19 wide- out and No. 161 overall prospect. ✦ Four-star cornerback target Jaeden Gould, ranked No. 28 nationally at his position by Rivals, is a prep teammate of new Notre Dame quar- terback commit Steve Angeli. PHOTO COURTESY RIVALS.COM Notre Dame Is Building Momentum With 2022 Class

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