Blue and Gold Illustrated

May 2021 Issue

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

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32 MAY 2021 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED PREP PROFILES On March 3, Phoenix Brophy Prep class of 2022 cornerback Benjamin Morrison announced a top 10 of Flor- ida State, Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oregon, UCLA and Washington. "I wanted to narrow down my list," Morrison said. "I want to focus on the schools that I could see myself playing at. I chose those schools be- cause I can see myself at those places for different reasons. The timing felt right to me and my parents." Soon after announcing his top 10, Morrison received scholarships from Alabama and Auburn. Moving for- ward in his recruitment, the four-star prospect will consider his top group, plus the two Alabama schools, and not cut his list down again publicly. Notre Dame offered Morrison on Feb. 10, and the prospect holds a very high view of the Fighting Irish. "The school speaks for itself," he said. "Notre Dame is a great academic school and a great football team as well. They were ranked fourth in the nation last year, which really stood out to me. "It's a testament to who they are; they have to be great students and great football players. They hold their athletes to a higher standard. That's what really stands out to me." The lead recruiters for the Irish are special teams coordinator Brian Polian and cornerbacks coach Mike Mickens. "I like them a lot," Morrison added. "Coach Polian is really ener- getic. I've really connected with him on a personal level. I respect how they're recruiting me and building a relationship with my parents. It's pretty neat to me." During the 2020 season, Morrison re- corded 36 tackles, three tackles for loss, one pass defended and two blocked field goals in five games played. He also added six receptions for 83 yards. Morrison's father, Darryl, played his collegiate ball at the University of Arizona and was a defensive back for the Washington Redskins (1993-96). Three of his sisters have played various sports at the Division I level. Naomi is currently a gymnast for Michigan, Grace is on the Appalachian State volleyball team, and Faith was a gymnast for Washington from 2014-16. Morrison's brother, Sam, played cornerback at Arizona (2015-18) and San Diego State (2019). Blue & Gold Illustrated sources indi- cated that among the schools in pur- suit of Morrison, Alabama and Notre Dame may be leading the pack. — Mike Singer Hilton Head (S.C.) High class of 2022 linebacker Jaylen Sneed made his way up to South Bend, Ind., on March 22. Due to the NCAA's dead period, Sneed was not able to visit with the Irish staff in person or get an in-depth tour of the facilities. Because Notre Dame is a key factor in his recruitment, he still wanted to check out campus. "We looked around all of campus and saw the buildings," Sneed said. "I really liked the size of the cam- pus and how pretty it is. It's a great school with a lot of tradition." Following his time on campus, Sneed chatted with Notre Dame de- fensive coordinator Marcus Freeman about the trip. "We did a FaceTime call afterwards," he noted. "We talked about how the visit went and everything I got to see." The 6-2, 210-pounder would also like to get back to South Bend for an official visit after the dead period lifts. "I want to see everything else at Notre Dame," he said. The Fighting Irish are a top con- tender for Sneed in large part due to his relationship with Freeman, who offered on Jan. 18. "It's great," Sneed said of their con- nection. "We talk about everything — his family, how they'd use me in the defense and how great it'd be if I got up there this summer to meet him." Sneed's high school head coach at Hilton Head, BJ Payne, has a long- standing relationship with Freeman. They are both from Northeast Ohio, and Freeman's wife was one of Payne's close friends from their hometown. Sneed won't pick his future college based on a friendship his coach has, but it certainly hasn't hurt matters. "Coach Payne doesn't know a lot about Notre Dame, but he knows a lot about Marcus Freeman," Sneed said. "They've been good friends for a long time." The Friday before his visit, Sneed had his first Zoom call with Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly. "It was great," Sneed said. "He em- phasized that academics are always going to be important at Notre Dame. It's not just about football. They have great advantages on both sides of it — championships and academics. "He's a pretty cool guy. He knows that he's one of the best of the best. He's definitely up there." — Mike Singer The Fighting Irish Are Battling Alabama And Others For Arizona Corner Rivals100 Linebacker Checks Out Notre Dame's Campus "We looked around all of campus and saw the buildings. I really liked the size of the campus and how pretty it is. It's a great school with a lot of tradition." Sneed on his recent self-guided tour of Notre Dame BENJAMIN MORRISON ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ Brophy Prep Phoenix Status: Offered Class: 2022 Position: Cornerback Ht.: 6-0 • Wt.: 172 Rivals Rankings: No. 3 player in Arizona, and No. 27 cornerback and No. 249 overall player nationally JAYLEN SNEED ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ Hilton Head H.S. Hilton Head, S.C. Status: Offered Class: 2022 Position: Linebacker Ht.: 6-2 • Wt.: 210 Rivals Rankings: No. 2 player in South Caro- lina, and No. 8 outside linebacker and No. 63 overall player nationally

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