Blue and Gold Illustrated

Preseason 2021

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

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48 PRESEASON 2021 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED FOOTBALL RECRUITING BY MIKE SINGER N otre Dame added nine new com- mitments to its 2022 class from the start of the summer to mid-August, bringing its total up to 21. After Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei's CJ Williams, the No. 6 wide receiver and No. 45 overall prospect, pledged to the Irish, Notre Dame took the No. 1 spot in the Rivals team recruiting rankings. While it's unrealistic to believe Brian Kelly and company will hold the top spot for much longer, the Fighting Irish have a chance to sign their first top-five class since 2013. There's much more work to be done for that to happen, though. Notre Dame has a pledge from Denison (Texas) High four-star Jadar- ian Price at running back. It's unclear whether the Irish will take a second back in the class. If so, the top name to know at this point in time is Pike Road (Ala.) High's Quinshon Jud- kins, a three-star prospect and the No. 33 back in the country per Rivals. Judkins is expected to officially visit Notre Dame when the Irish host To- ledo Sept. 11. The Irish could also evaluate running back options in the trans- fer portal or potentially even flip a player who is currently committed to another school. All options are on the table at the position, including standing pat with Price. Notre Dame doesn't "need" a second running back in 2022 unless Kyren Williams and C'Bo Flemister were both to de- part after the season, which poten- tially could happen. The situation at wide receiver in 2022 is a bit similar, but there's one big variable. With the four-star Williams, Vancouver (Wash.) Union four-star Tobias Merriweather and Ponchatoula (La.) High three-star Amorion Walker already committed, Notre Dame also has options with a fourth spot. Position coach Del Alexander has Deerfield (Mass.) Academy three-star Elic Ayomanor, Bluefield (Va.) Gra- ham three-star Xayvion Bradshaw, Amarillo (Texas) Tascosa three-star Major Everhart and Richmond (Va.) St. Christopher 's four-star Andre Greene Jr. still on the board. Notre Dame could take one of those play- ers, add a graduate transfer or hold with its current trio. The variable at play is Walker, who has taken visits to other schools, including Alabama and LSU. He earned offers from both programs after strong camp performances. Will he decommit? If he does opt to attend college elsewhere, then the Irish will cer- tainly look to add another receiver. It could be from the quartet previ- ously mentioned, but Alexander and Co. will also evaluate more prospects based on senior film. Notre Dame has a lot more work to do on the offensive line. The ideal number it seems the staff would like to get to is four, and the Irish cur- rently have pledges from Groton (Mass.) Lawrence Academy four-star tackle Ty Chan, Lawrenceburg (Ind.) High tackle Ashton Craig and Zi- onsville (Ind.) High four-star interior lineman Joey Tanona. The top three targets remaining on the board are Lynchburg (Va.) Lib- erty Christian five-star tackle Zach Rice, Fond du Lac (Wis.) St. Mary's Springs four-star interior lineman Billy Schrauth and Huber Heights (Ohio) Wayne four-star tackle Aamil Wagner. Notre Dame hosted all three for official visits in June and continue to vie for their commitments. Rice and Wagner seem to be play- ing the long game, while Schrauth could commit at any time. Notre Dame is done recruiting at the quarterback and tight end positions. Moving to the defensive side of the ball, it's all about adding impact play- ers on top of what is a strong class. The Irish lost a pledge from Rabun Gap (Ga.) Nacoochee's Darren Agu, and it seems the Irish will look to get back to four defensive linemen in the class to go along with Chantilly (Va.) High four-star Aiden Gobaira, St. Louis John Burroughs four-star Tyson Ford and Pittsburgh Central Catholic three-star Donovan Hinish. Gobaira and Ford project as de- fensive ends, while Hinish is an in- terior defensive lineman. A fourth (or potentially even fifth) defensive lineman in the 2022 class could be at end or tackle. Las Vegas Bishop Gorman four- star vyper Cyrus Moss and defen- sive tackles four-star Anthony Lucas from Scottsdale (Ariz.) Chaparral and four-star Hero Kanu from Ran- cho Santa Margarita (Calif.) Catholic are the targets to know on the board. Moss and Lucas took Notre Dame official visits in June, while Kanu took an unofficial visit in late July and is expected to make an official visit for the USC game in October. The Irish will likely need to have Moss and Lu- cas return for unofficial visits this fall if they are to land either of them. Notre Dame is sitting pretty with its four linebacker commits and is in great position in the secondary. It also has four pledges in the back end and has one big target in its sights. Pleasant Hill (Iowa) Southeast Polk's Xavier Nwankpa, the No. 1 safety and No. 14 overall prospect in America per Rivals, is rumored to be down to Iowa, Notre Dame and Ohio State. Nwankpa has been a top-of- the-board Irish target for nearly two years and would give Notre Dame's secondary a big boost. It's tough to say exactly how many recruits Notre Dame will sign in the 2022 class, but it should be a full boat of at least 25 prospects. ✦ The Irish have options at a handful of positions in the 2022 class, including at running back. The top name to know there is Pike Road (Ala.) High's Quinshon Judkins, Rivals' No. 33 ball carrier nationally. PHOTO COURTESY RIVALS.COM Fighting Irish Have More Work To Do In Assembling 2022 Class

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