Blue and Gold Illustrated

February 2022

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

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38 FEBRUARY 2022 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED Less than an hour before Notre Dame kicked off against Oklahoma State in the Fiesta Bowl, the Fighting Irish added a big commitment to their 2023 class. Denton (Texas) Guyer safety Peyton Bowen announced his pledge to Notre Dame, choosing head coach Marcus Freeman's program over his other final- ists Alabama, Oklahoma and USC. "I processed everything and looked at all of the assets they have," Bowen said about picking Notre Dame. "Aca- demically and with the coaching staff — they recruit me differently compared to all of the other schools. It felt like they wanted me the most." Fre e m a n , s a fe t i e s c o a c h C h r i s O'Leary and defensive director of re- cruiting Chad Bowden led the charge in the Fighting Irish landing the four-star recruit. Along with daily text message contact, Notre Dame's staff would have a FaceTime or phone call with Bowen two or three times per week. "We'd talk about where I'd play on this team, the schemes I fit in and how early I'd be playing," Bowen added. "I'm close with their coaches. I was talking about golfing with Coach Freeman when I come back up there. Coach O'Leary tells me how I'm a part of their family. Coach Chad is like a best friend to me." Bowen informed the coaching staff a few days before Christmas Day that he'd be committing to the Fighting Irish. He becomes Notre Dame's third defensive back pledge in the 2023 cycle, joining Las Vegas Bishop Gorman cornerback Justyn Rhett and Irvington (N.J.) High safety Adon Shuler. "I was on the phone with Coach Free- man, and I told him that he didn't have to recruit any more safeties because I'm your guy," Bowen recalled. Oklahoma was the main competition for the 6-0, 180-pounder, but former Sooners coaches Lincoln Riley, Alex Grinch and Roy Manning left for USC. Couple that with the fact that Free- man was elevated to head coach and O'Leary and Bowden remained on staff, and Notre Dame became the rather easy choice for Bowen. "It made me feel better that I had such a good connection with the head coach now," Bowen said. "If he and the other coaches would've left, then that would've been terrible." Bowen will get right to work in re- cruiting two of his high school team- mates to join him in South Bend. Quar- terback Jackson Arnold and cornerback Ryan Yaites are both key targets for the Irish, and have been on campus multiple times. "It'd be amazing to play with them at Notre Dame," Bowen stated. "I already have a great connection with Jackson and Ryan on and off the field. It'd be cool to have someone to travel up there with. It'd be amazing." Bowen is Notre Dame's eighth com- mitment in the 2023 class, which is heavy on the defensive side of the ball with six verbal pledges. "I'm really excited," Bowen said. "I knew this opportunity wouldn't be here if I waited too long. Notre Dame only had a couple defensive back spots left. I didn't want anyone else to take this opportunity." The On3 Consensus — a complete and equally weighted industry-generated average that utilizes all four major re- cruiting media companies — has Bowen ranked as the No. 8 player in Texas, and the No. 4 safety and No. 53 overall pros- pect in the nation. On3's own rankings have Bowen ranked as the No. 6 recruit in Texas, and the No. 5 safety and No. 50 overall pros- pect in the country. In helping Guyer reach the Texas 6A Di- vision II state title game and a 14-2 overall record in 2021, Bowen recorded 67 tack- les, seven interceptions (two returned for scores), 12 passes broken up, two punt re- turn touchdowns and two kickoff return scores. He caught eight passes for 246 yards and three touchdowns at receiver. Bowen was named to the 2021 Texas Dis- trict 5-6A first-team defense. Bowen's younger brother Eli is a class of 2024 cornerback who already has earned offers from Colorado and LSU. ✦ COMMITMENT PROFILE PEYTON BOWEN Notre Dame Lands Pledge From Elite 2023 Safety Bowen, the No. 4 safety and No. 53 overall prospect nationally per the On3 Consensus, picked the Fighting Irish over fellow finalists Alabama, Oklahoma and USC. PHOTO COURTESY ON3.COM "I processed everything and looked at all of the assets they have. Academically and with the coaching staff — they recruit me differently compared to all of the other schools. It felt like they wanted me the most." BOWEN ON NOTRE DAME FILM ANALYSIS "He shows terrific ball skills, is known for his hard-hitting style of play, and has the versatil- ity to play both free safety and cornerback. Bowen is also an electric punt returner. Super impressive, physical and a good tackler, he shows good awareness and instincts, and has a nose for the ball. Bowen is a very impressive ball player." — Prep Football Report's Tom Lemming

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