Blue and Gold Illustrated

March 2022

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

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Page 42 of 99

BLUEGOLDONLINE.COM MARCH 2022 43 2022 FOOTBALL RECRUITING ISSUE Hilton Head (S.C.). High, Niuafe Tui- halamaka of Mission Hills (Calif.) Bishop Alemany and Nolan Ziegler of Grand Rapids (Mich.) Catholic Central Overview: This might be the best crop of players in one position group in Notre Dame's class of 2022. It's com- prised of the Irish's top-ranked signee, Sneed and three other four-star players. Sneed is the No. 3 linebacker and No. 33 overall recruit in the class according to the On3 Consensus. It was critical to secure two of these highly touted backers from the nearby state of Michigan. That's recruiting chops on display with the Wolverines having just had their best season in more than a decade. Add in a difference-maker from Cal- ifornia, and Freeman has four highly ranked linebackers to work with from a single class. That doesn't happen of- ten. All three of Notre Dame's starting linebackers in 2022 are projected to be seniors, so it'll be encouraging to have a fresh corps of heavy hitters ready to take over in 2023 and beyond. On Paper Grade: A DEFENSIVE BACK Signed: Jayden Bellamy of Oradell (N.J.) Bergen Catholic, Jaden Mickey of Corona (Calif.) Centennial and Benja- min Morrison of Phoenix Brophy Prep Overview: Notre Dame strength- ened its cornerbacks corps with this crop of signees, but it definitely left some things to be desired from a safety perspective. Of course, any one of these three could end up playing safety via a position swap. Look no further than Ramon Henderson's transition from corner to safety this season. Instead of signing true safeties in the class of 2022, though, Notre Dame bol- stered the back end of its defense by bringing in former All-American Bran- don Joseph from Northwestern. Fifth- year seniors Houston Griffith and DJ Brown also decided to return. Having that experienced trio offset some of the sting of losing All-American Kyle Ham- ilton to the NFL Draft. Mickey might be one of the corner- backs of the future at Notre Dame. The No. 22 corner in the class per the On3 Consensus, he could make a push to compete with junior Clarence Lewis for reps in 2022. He'd have to pass a number of players on the depth chart to do it, but he could be a more promising talent than any of them anyway. On Paper Grade: C+ SPECIALISTS Signed: Bryce McFerson of Indian Trail (N.C.) Metrolina Christian Academy Overview: Former Notre Dame punter Jay Bramblett, a three-year starter who booted 164 kicks in an Irish uniform, fol- lowed former Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly to LSU via the transfer portal. Considering Notre Dame does not have any punters listed on its spring ros- ter, it was vital for the Irish to bring in McFerson, the No. 6 punter in the class of 2022 per the On3 Consensus. Notre Dame also secured walk-on transfer Jon Sot from Harvard this offseason. On Paper Grade: B+ ✦ Five-star linebacker Jaylen Sneed of Hilton Head (S.C.) High School is the top-rated recruit (No. 26 over- all per On3) in the Fighting Irish's 2022 class. PHOTO BY CHAD WEAVER

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