Blue and Gold Illustrated

March 2022

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

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Page 38 of 99

BLUEGOLDONLINE.COM MARCH 2022 39 2022 FOOTBALL RECRUITING ISSUE graduate. The Irish's increased portal at- tention has almost exclusively zeroed in on graduate students to avoid any compli- cations with transferring credits. Joseph is only the third undergraduate transfer Notre Dame has taken since 2012, joining Amir Carlisle (USC, 2012) and Alohi Gil- man (Navy, 2017). The Irish have brought in nine graduate transfers since 2017. Taking an undergrad transfer from a school like Northwestern, USC or Navy is an easier proposition for the admis- sions department. Joseph was an obvi- ous Notre Dame academic and on-field fit the day he entered the transfer por- tal. Head coach Marcus Freeman knew it and contacted him that night. Notre Dame may not ever bring in dou- ble-digit transfers like some Power Five programs have, but Freeman understands it's still a rock his program must mine each year. There will be players like Joseph who make sense academically and athletically. Notre Dame is likely to continue portal shopping this offseason. Wide receiver remains the team's most pressing need, from a scholarship number and skill standpoint. The Irish lost leading receiver Kevin Austin Jr. to the NFL Draft process and have just eight scholarship players at the position. Beginning fall camp without a transfer receiver would be a small failure. Signing just one receiver in December compounded the issue. Two 11th-hour receiver defections from the 2022 class may have sealed former position coach Del Alexander's fate. Putting too much focus on one posi- tion detracts from the bigger picture, though. Notre Dame signed a 21-player class that remained No. 6 nationally in February, per the On3 Consensus Team Recruiting Rankings. The Irish have 17 four-star prospects, according to the On3 Consensus player rankings. All told, it's Notre Dame's fourth- highest ranked class since 2007, which is the farthest back the On3 Consensus goes, and the program's best since 2013. Twelve of the 21 players are already on campus as mid-year enrollees: Sneed, quarterback Steve Angeli, running back Jadarian Price, offensive lineman Billy Schrauth, offensive lineman Joey Tanona, defensive end Aidan Gobaira, defensive end Tyson Ford, linebacker Niuafe Tui- halamaka, linebacker Joshua Burnham, linebacker Nolan Ziegler, cornerback Jaden Mickey and cornerback Jayden Bel- lamy. The other nine will arrive in June. Notre Dame made a run at a few high school recruits in late December and January. The Irish offered Dallas Parish Episcopal School three-star running back Andrew Paul, Missouri City (Texas) High- tower four-star wide receiver Caleb Doug- las and Portland (Ore.) Lake Oswego four- star wide receiver Justius Lowe. None of them made it to campus for a visit. They also kicked the tires on Murfrees- boro (Tenn.) Oakland four-star running back Jordan James, a prior offer from February 2021 who committed to Geor- gia but did not sign in December. Nothing came of it, and he flipped to Oregon. ✦ 2 Transfers enrolled this winter — former Northwestern safety Brandon Joseph and ex-Arkansas State kicker Blake Grupe. Joseph (6-1, 192 pounds) was a consensus All-American in 2020 and snagged nine combined interceptions the last two seasons. He's a College Station, Texas, native and has three years left to play. Grupe (5-7, 150 pounds) set Arkansas State's career record for field goals (64) and points (354). He has made 74.4 percent of his career field goal attempts. The Sedalia, Mo., native is using the COVID-19 waver granted to all 2020 fall sport athletes to play a sixth season of college football. 3 Top-100 recruits signed in the class, per the On3 Consensus — linebacker Jaylen Sneed (No. 33 overall), offensive tackle Aamil Wagner (No. 78) and defensive end Tyson Ford (No. 91). The On3 Consensus is a complete and equally weighted industry-gen - erated average that utilizes all four major recruiting media com- panies. Sneed and Wagner are five-stars in On3's own rankings. 3 Players who were committed to another team before signing with Notre Dame. California linebacker Niuafe Tui- halamaka committed to USC as a sophomore, but backed off that pledge shortly after Notre Dame offered. Georgia tight end Holden Staes is a former Penn State commitment. North Carolina punter Bryce McFerson flipped his commitment from Wake Forest in November 2021. 4 Signees with family members who played football for Notre Dame: quarter- back Steve Angeli, tight end ELI RARIDON, defensive tackle Donovan Hinish and linebacker Nolan Ziegler. Their relatives who suited up for the Irish are: • 1943 national champion offensive lineman Pete Berezney, Angeli's great uncle. • 2002-05 long snapper Scott Raridon Jr., Eli Raridon's father. • 2017-21 nose tackle Kurt Hinish, Donovan Hinish's brother. Kurt holds the Notre Dame record for career games played, with 61. • 1973 national champion linebacker Tim Sullivan, Nolan Ziegler's grandfather. 4 Four-star linebackers signed in the class, a haul that was largely then-defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman's work last summer. Ziegler was the lone player to commit to Notre Dame before Freeman's arrival. Freeman flipped Tuihalamaka (No. 208 overall player) from USC, landed Josh Burnham (No. 108) over in-state Michigan and pulled Sneed from South Carolina. Burnham was a target before Freeman arrived, and defensive analyst Nick Lezynski was a key presence in securing his commitment. 5 Offensive linemen signed for the second straight year, with four of them ranked as four-stars, per the On3 Consensus. Indiana natives Ashton Craig (the lone three-star) and Joey Tanona (No. 142 overall) project as interior players, as does Wisconsin product Billy Schrauth (No. 127). Massachusetts native Ty Chan (No. 291) could end up at tackle or guard, while Wagner is a likely tackle. 17 Four-star recruits in Notre Dame's 2022 signing class, per the On3 Consensus, tied for the team's most since 2016 (18). Sneed was the last five-star in the On3 Consensus, which gives that designation to the top 32 players, but top-10 prospect Lebbeus Overton's Feb. 3 reclassification to 2022 bumped his five-star rank - ing down because it sent him to No. 33. Before that, Sneed was the first On3 Consensus five-star recruit Notre Dame has signed since Jaylon Smith in 2013. He remains a five-star in On3's own rankings. 17 States represented among the 21 signees, from New Jersey quarterback Steve Angeli to Washington wide receiver Tobias Merriweather. Only four states had multiple signees in the class — California, New Jersey, Indiana and Michigan (two apiece). The Irish have signed five in-state players the last two years after just three in the prior three cycles. 21 Years between players signed from Wisconsin, a streak Schrauth snapped by picking Notre Dame over the in-state Badgers. The last Wisconsin native to pick Notre Dame prior to Schrauth was Brian Beidatsch in 2001. Beidatsch's son is now a high school senior. 4,990 Rushing yards in 39 career games by Jadarian Price at Denison (Texas) High School, including 1,803 on 9.3 yards per rush as a senior. He totaled 18 touchdowns in each of the last two seasons. Price was the District 7 5A D2 Offensive Player of the Year in 2020 and 2021. He's the No. 215 player in the 2022 cycle, per the On3 Consensus. 2022 Recruiting: By The Numbers PHOTO BY CHAD WEAVER

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