Blue and Gold Illustrated

March 2022

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

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BLUEGOLDONLINE.COM MARCH 2022 41 2022 FOOTBALL RECRUITING ISSUE their futures to stay for another season in South Bend. Isaiah Foskey, Jayson and Justin Ademilola, Jarrett Patterson, Josh Lugg — the list goes on and on. Those players returning put less pres- sure on Freeman to have to sign upward of 30 players in the current class. The Irish signed 21, and that's fine considering who is returning from last year's roster. Here's how Blue & Gold Illustrated graded each position group for Notre Dame's class of 2022: A — College Football Playoff/Na- tional Title Contention B — Top-10 Viability C — Top-25 Viability D — Trying To Be Bowl Eligible QUARTERBACK Signed: Steve Angeli of Oradell (N.J.) Bergen Catholic Overview: The Notre Dame quarter- back situation for 2022 is pretty clear- cut. Rising sophomore Tyler Buchner will battle with rising junior Drew Pyne for the starting job barring another graduate transfer entering the fray like Jack Coan did last winter. It's getting late in the game for that to happen, so it's extremely likely that won't be the case. Angeli will take on rising sophomore Ron Powlus III for third-team reps. An- geli — a three-star recruit and the No. 33 quarterback nationally per the On3 Consensus — wasn't a household name in the national recruiting landscape, but offensive coordinator Tommy Rees and the Irish staff seem to be excited about what they're getting. Barring a complete shakeup of the signal-caller hierarchy, Angeli isn't go- ing to be called upon for meaningful reps like Buchner was as a true fresh- man. He's going to be a developmental project who could end up being the guy later in his Notre Dame career. It's possible Angeli ends up being bet- ter than a B- player, but injuries and attrition at quarterback are common- place in college football now. Taking one quarterback in any signing class is always a risk. Rees and company would be wise to take two in 2023. Pyne loves Notre Dame, but he also loves to play football under the bright lights. He hasn't had much of a chance to do so in two years in South Bend. If the transfer portal comes calling for Pyne, there's a scenario in which An- geli could be the backup quarterback at Notre Dame in as little as a year. That's merely speculation, though. For the time being, if Notre Dame was only going to take one three-star quar- terback in a single class it might as well have been Angeli. On Paper Grade: B- RUNNING BACK Signed: Jadarian Price of Denison (Texas) High Overview: The Notre Dame running back room is loaded with young talent for next year. Junior Chris Tyree plus sophomores Logan Diggs and Audric Estime are expected to be back in 2022. Add Price to the mix and that's an im- pressive quartet of ball carriers. Like quarterback, running back wasn't a position in which Notre Dame had to get multiple players in the class of 2022 to feel comfortable. The trio coming back is enough to work with. Senior C'Bo Flemister is still listed on the roster, too. Price, a four-star recruit and the No. 14 back in his class per the On3 Consensus, adds depth to an already stout group. This grade falls from the "A" tier be- cause Notre Dame didn't land its other running back targets (namely Nick Singleton, who signed with Penn State) that the Irish had higher on their list than Price. Again, multiple players weren't a downright necessity here. But Notre Dame surely would have liked an opportunity to take two. Also like quar- terback, running back now becomes a position of need in 2023. On Paper Grade: B WIDE RECEIVER Signed: Tobias Merriweather of Van- couver (Wash.) Union Overview: Here's a position group that Notre Dame couldn't really afford to only take one player. The Irish will have eight scholarship wide receivers including Merriweather. That's not even enough to round out a complete three- deep at all three wide receiver positions. The math isn't difficult, and this grade reflects the lack of quantity, not quality. Odds were at least one of Avery Davis, Kevin Austin Jr., Braden Lenzy and Joe Wilkins Jr. would not come back for an- other season, and it happened to be the best of the bunch (Austin) who left. His 888 receiving yards and seven touch- downs will be difficult to replace. Davis and Wilkins are coming off severe knee injuries that required surgery, too. Losing former Notre Dame commit Amorion Walker to Michigan was a big blow, but losing a commitment from four-star CJ Williams two days before the early signing period was even big- ger. Williams signed with USC, which wasn't much of a surprise considering the offensive renaissance taking place with new head coach Lincoln Riley at the helm. Williams is a Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei product that stayed home. Merriweather — a 6-4, 188-pound, four-star talent — is the No. 23 wide re- ceiver in the country according to the On3 Consensus. With his size and skill, he has a lot of upside. But losing Williams and Walker stings, and the effects of those losses could be felt for years to come. On Paper Grade: D TIGHT END Signed: Eli Raridon of West Des Moines (Iowa) Valley and Holden Staes of Atlanta Westminster Overview: Notre Dame's tight end outlook is strong with Michael Mayer returning for his junior season and ju- nior Kevin Bauman recovering fully from the foot injury that hampered him last season. Rising sophomores Cane Berrong and Mitchell Evans are also set for expanded roles in their second sea- son with the program. The addition of Raridon and Staes bolsters a group led by one of the best in the nation at what he does in Mayer and rounded out by a handful of other play- ers who could take the torch from him in 2023. Raridon — the No. 5 tight end in the class per the On3 Consensus — is es- pecially intriguing, but he tore his ACL playing basketball in late December and will likely not be full-go for fall camp. Though Raridon has elite ball skills and could be the best pass-catching threat in the group behind Mayer, they likely would not have been on display in game action even without the injury. The group is too loaded for true freshmen that aren't car- bon copies of Mayer to get on the field. It's nice to know Notre Dame has elite tight end talent waiting in the wings, though. On Paper Grade: A-

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