Blue and Gold Illustrated

March 2022

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

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2022 FOOTBALL RECRUITING ISSUE BY TODD D. BURLAGE Growing up a roughneck Pittsburgh kid in a no-nonsense blue-collar house- hold — alongside older brothers who had no problem setting him straight — Donovan Hinish doesn't often get rat- tled, on or off the football field. But when rumors starting swirling in January that longtime Irish defen- sive line coach Mike Elston was leav- ing Notre Dame, Hinish admits to being knocked off center. "I was pretty upset," recalled Hinish, an incoming Irish freshman defensive tackle from Pittsburgh Central Catholic, whose older brother, Kurt Hinish, spent five seasons (2017-21) playing defensive tackle under Elston at Notre Dame. "I became pretty close with Coach Elston, obviously, through my recruiting pro- cess, and even years before that." Curious and concerned, Donovan wasted no time getting to the bottom of the Elston departure chatter and called the coach who recruited him to Notre Dame, spent time over the last several years with his family, recruited and de- veloped his brother, and was expected to lead his position group in the fall. "Coach Elston said, 'Yeah, it's true,'" Hinish shared. "We just talked for awhile. It was super upsetting." The coaching chaos calmed when first-year Irish head coach Marcus Freeman filled Elston's vacancy with esteemed Ohio State defensive assistant Al Washington. "I knew that Coach Freeman would end up finding somebody who would fit in well," Hinish said. "I'm all set." Hinish will arrive on campus in June as one of three defensive linemen in this recruiting class, and with the inevitable comparisons to his older brother, who because of an extra season of eligibility provided by COVID-19, appeared in a program-record 61 games during his five-year Notre Dame career. At 6-foot-2 and 268 pounds, Dono- van is almost identical in size to Kurt from when his older brother also came to Notre Dame as a freshman out of Pittsburgh Central Catholic. The two brothers look and act the same — neither is much interested in chit-chat or small talk. Both play the defensive tackle position with a bad attitude and a bullish style. Shortcuts aren't part of the daily to-do list. Challenges are viewed as opportunity, not as hin- drance, and both are chronic overachievers. And while Kurt held a more impressive offer sheet during his high school re- cruitment — Donovan's was predominantly made up of Mid-American Conference schools — big brother still makes one admission. "He's a better all-around athlete than me, the younger ones always are," Kurt said of little brother. "He's going to become a great player." ✦ Coaching Chaos Behind Him, Donovan Hinish Is Ready To Go At 6-2, 268, Hinish enters Notre Dame at approximately the same size as his older brother, Kurt, did in the Irish's 2017 recruiting class. PHOTO COURTESY DONOVAN HINISH DONOVAN HINISH DEFENSIVE LINEMAN 6-2 · 268 CENTRAL CATHOLIC H.S. PITTSBURGH RANKINGS STARS NAT. POS. STATE consensus ✪ ✪ ✪ 562 64 17 ✪ ✪ ✪ — 79 20 ✪ ✪ ✪ — 42 13 ✪ ✪ ✪ — 41 18 ✪ ✪ ✪ — 79 17 STATISTICS • Posted 47 tackles, 16 stops for loss, 8.0 sacks and one fumble recovery as a senior. • Scored a 32-yard touchdown on a fake field goal during his final campaign. • Helped lead Central Catholic to two West- ern Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League (WPIAL) Class 6A championships. NOTABLE • Born on Feb. 25, 2004. • 2021 Pennsylvania Football Writers 6A first- team all state on defense. • 2021 WPIAL first-team defense. • Two-time Pittsburgh Post-Gazette WPIAL Class 6A all-conference first-team defense (2020 and 2021). • 2020 Pennsylvania MaxPreps All-State second- team defense. • Brother of former Notre Dame defensive line- man Kurt Hinish. • Father, Kurt Sr., played football and his older sister, Kadin, ran track for Division II Slippery Rock in Pennsylvania. • Oldest brother, Cory Nolton, was a tight end for Robert Morris of the Football Championship Subdivision. RECRUITMENT • Committed to Notre Dame on June 4, 2021. • Will enroll at Notre Dame this summer. • Picked the Irish over Pittsburgh, Toledo, Vir- ginia Tech and others. • Recruited by former defensive line coach Mike Elston. • Has visited Notre Dame more times than he can count dating back to his brother's days as a prospect. • Took official visits in June 2021 and December 2021. 2022 PROJECTION • Hinish is likely to redshirt as a true freshman in 2022. THEY SAID IT Pittsburgh Central Catholic defensive coor- dinator Dave Fleming: "Donovan has been the unquestioned heart and soul of our defense for the last two years. His get-off is tremendous, and he has a relentless motor that will make him a valuable asset to the Irish defense for years to come. We are proud and excited for his future at Notre Dame." National recruiting analyst Tom Lemming: "He shows excellent speed in pursuit, a good closing burst and is a powerful run stuffer. Hinish forces a lot of fumbles with his quickness and strength. He's very active, quick-footed and tough. "When watching his film, you can see his ex- plosive moves, body control and burst. Hinish is very difficult to block one on one because of his balance, body control and tenacity. He dominates the point of attack, shows very quick and violent hands and a motor that never stops." 56 MARCH 2022 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED

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