Blue and Gold Illustrated

Sept. 11, 2021

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

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42 SEPT. 11, 2021 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY MIKE SINGER When Notre Dame offered Cooper Flanagan a scholarship Aug. 6, it was pretty much a foregone conclusion that he'd end up committing to Notre Dame. Flanagan made his public pledge to the Irish Sept. 2, ending his recruitment very early in the process. He informed the Irish coaching staff of his decision Aug. 26, two days before he would play his first snap as a junior in high school. For Flanagan, it was simple. "I knew where I wanted to go," he told Blue & Gold Illustrated. "But I didn't think the offer would come this soon." The four-star class of 2023 tight end from Concord (Calif.) De La Salle has Irish heritage, and the Flanagan last name is the 69th most common last name in Ireland, per Wikipedia. "My family and I knew that if Notre Dame offered, then I'd likely commit," Flanagan added. "It is my dream school. I knew deep down that I wanted to go to Notre Dame. "The combination of academics and athletics, the tradition they have there, the brotherhood, plus it's similar to De La Salle — all of that played a big part." Flanagan jumped on Zoom call with Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly, of- fensive coordinator Tommy Rees, tight ends coach John McNulty and offensive recruiting analyst Dre Brown to inform them of his decision. It was far from a surprise that Flanagan called to com- mit, but that didn't stop the staff from being excited. "They were fired up," Flanagan said. "Coach McNulty knew that it was what I wanted to do, but everyone was still really happy." Flanagan visited Notre Dame in June and met Rees, and they hit it off right away. Over the last few weeks, he's also built a strong connection with Brown. The 6-6, 240-pounder's closest re- lationship is with McNulty, who will be his tight ends coach. McNulty started recruiting Flanagan around early April, and they built their bond well before Notre Dame even offered. "He's definitely an honest guy, which I appreciate and like," Flanagan said. "He's a really good guy. I like how honest he is with me, and he's a cool guy overall." Notre Dame's tight end tradition speaks for itself and was a key factor in Fla- nagan's decision. "Their production of tight that are in the NFL — it's amazing," he explained. "That's defi- nitely one of the biggest reasons I picked Notre Dame." Rivals ranks Flanagan as the No. 18 player in California and the No. 17 tight end in the country. Flanagan also held scholarship of- fers from Arizona, California, Colorado, Michigan, Michigan State, San Jose State, Tennessee, Utah and Washington. In a four-game spring season in 2021, Flanagan caught six passes for 80 yards on a very limited numbers of targets in a run-heavy offense. "We run the ball a lot, so I can't show off how much more I can do, but I'll have more opportunities to catch the ball this season," Flanagan said. "De La Salle has made me a way better blocker. I think I'm a true tight end. I can block, catch, run routes and do it all." Flanagan is Notre Dame's first offen- sive pledge and fourth overall commit- ment in the 2023 class, joining safety Adon Shuler, and defensive ends Keon Keeley and Brenan Vernon. He comes from the same high school program that produced junior Notre Dame defensive end Isaiah Foskey. De La Salle was listed at No. 14 in the MaxPreps Top 25 rankings that were updated Aug. 30. De La Salle also produced former Irish offensive tackle Aaron Taylor (1990-93) and defen- sive lineman Derek Landri (2002-06). ✦ COMMITMENT PROFILE COOPER FLANAGAN Irish Score First Offensive Commitment Of 2023 Class Rivals rates Flanagan as a four-star prospect, the No. 18 player in California and the No. 17 tight end nationally in the 2023 class. PHOTO COURTESY FLANAGAN FILM ANALYSIS "[Cooper] Flanagan is a very good player from a great program. He's a big, physical kid with strong hands and is an excellent blocker. If you play for De La Salle, you have to be an all- around player. He runs good routes when given the chance and shows great hands. He plays on a run-oriented team, so blocking is essential." — Prep Football Report recruiting analyst Tom Lemming "Their production of tight ends that are in the NFL — it's amazing. That's definitely one of the biggest reasons I picked Notre Dame" FLANAGAN ON NOTRE DAME'S TIGHT END TRADITION

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