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 sin to see eventual offensive line signee Billy Schrauth. "The minute I got done with the press conference, it was, 'We have to go see To- bias,'" Freeman said in December. "To get him as part of this class is huge. It's huge. We're at his house at 9:30 West Coast time at night. It was after midnight here. That was an important get for us." The timing proved crucial, too. Kel- ly's departure ushered in a torrent of renewed interest in Tobias from other teams, and he weighed taking visits to a couple schools on the weekend before the December signing period. Dom, though, made one request. And it helped Tobias realize Notre Dame was still his preference. "My biggest thing was, 'If you're going to do that, you need to call Coach Alex- ander and tell him right now,'" Dom said. "He never did pick up the phone and call, because he wasn't sure he wanted to do that." He visited Notre Dame that weekend instead, along with most of his fellow 2022 soon-to-be Irish signees. "I didn't want to jump off the train, abandon ship and end up regretting it," Tobias said. 'HAPPY WITH NOTRE DAME' Tobias will enroll at Notre Dame in June, following a spring semester run- ning track for Union High School that he hopes to conclude with some Washing- ton state titles. He will step on campus in South Bend with one goal: play right away. If for no other reason, it should be at- tainable because of Notre Dame's thin numbers at his position. The Irish have just eight scholarship receivers and lost No. 1 target Kevin Austin Jr. to the NFL Draft. But Tobias wants to play because he earned his snaps, not out of necessity. "He wants an opportunity to play," Dom said. "Every kid on the team de- serves that. Then it's a meritocracy from there. I think he feels like he can bring a different dynamic to the offense." Rees has similar visions for Tobias, whose combination of size (6-4, 188 pounds), speed and agility made him a top-150 recruit, per the On3 Consensus. He has the frame to be a contested-catch weapon and downfield threat, but much of his usage at Union was on short or intermediate routes. That's where his ac- celeration and agility shined. "Here's a kid who's looking to run a sub-10.6 [100-meter dash], and when you walk up to him, he's close to 6-5," Rees said. "High character. He's not just a one-trick pony like some long guys are. You see him return kicks, change of di- rection, get in and out of breaks. "He's somebody we're extremely ex- cited about and have extremely high hopes for moving forward. Given his length, his maturity, his ability to run, you can put him outside and expect him to slowly make an impact early in his career." Track remains Tobias' focus this spring, as does enjoying the last few months at home with friends and fam- ily. He has, though, also begun study- ing the playbook Notre Dame sent him. He met new receivers coach Chansi Stuckey during a late January in-home visit. The trauma of the first in-home visit is gone in part because Kelly or any one person didn't attract him to Notre Dame at first. Rather, the place as a whole pulled at him. "They always tell you don't fall in love with the coaches, fall in love with the school," Tobias said. "At the end of the day, it's Notre Dame." The whole family shares the senti- ment. "We're happy with Notre Dame, happy with the coaching changes, happy about everything with what's go- ing on," Dom said. "We've moved past the burnt ends." ✦ TOBIAS MERRIWEATHER WIDE RECEIVER 6-4 · 188 UNION H.S. WEST CAMAS, WASH. RANKINGS STARS NAT. POS. STATE consensus ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ 132 23 2 ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ 219 33 3 ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ 185 26 3 ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ 134 21 2 ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ 80 14 2 STATISTICS • Made 30 receptions for 502 yards and three scores, plus had five rushes for 23 yards and a touchdown in nine games as a senior. Also inter- cepted three passes and returned two for scores. • Caught 28 passes for 415 yards and six touch- downs during a six-game spring junior season. • Hauled in 43 passes for 766 yards and five touchdowns as a sophomore in 2019. NOTABLE • Born on Nov. 21, 2003. • All-American Bowl participant. • Polynesian Bowl participant. • 2020-21 The Columbian's All-Region Male Ath- lete of the Year. • SBLive's spring 2021 All-State Washington high school football first-team offense. • SBLive's fall 2021 All-State Washington high school football first-team offense. • Competed in track and field, winning district titles in the 100-, 200- and 400-meter races as a junior. • Older sisters Jai'Lyn and Dai'Lyn both run track at the University of Oklahoma. RECRUITMENT • Committed to Notre Dame on Aug. 4, 2021. • Will enroll at Notre Dame this summer. • Chose Notre Dame over Stanford, and also had offers from Michigan, Nebraska, Oregon, Tennes- see, USC and Washington, among others. • Recruited by offensive coordinator Tommy Rees and former receivers coach Del Alexander. • Visited Notre Dame four times, including of- ficial visits in June and December 2021. 2022 PROJECTION • Merriweather has the chance to break into the wide receiver rotation as a true freshman. THEY SAID IT Blue & Gold Illustrated analyst Tim Hyde: "What I notice first about him is his vision. He's always look- ing for holes. I've been around receivers who run straight line and bump into people. He's looking to attack and is aggressive with the balls in his hands. "The great receivers catch the ball at its highest point, and that's what you see with Merriweather. He goes and gets the football. He's an athletic, tall guy on the outside for Notre Dame." National recruiting analyst Tom Lemming: "Mer- riweather is quick, active, instinctive and most of all, productive. A precise route runner, he under- stands the passing game and shows brilliant speed, hands, leaping ability and timing. He possesses enormous talent and potential. "Merriweather has an impressive catch radius, and his mobility and size allows him to dominate in vertical routes and red-zone situations. He shows a variety of footwork in his release, which keeps defensive backs on their toes. Merriweather is just a sensational talent." BLUEGOLDONLINE.COM MARCH 2022 59 "They always tell you don't fall in love with the coaches, fall in love with the school. At the end of the day, it's Notre Dame." MERRIWEATHER

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