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 As a solid four-star player — rated by most services as a top-10 tight end in the 2022 recruiting class — and firmly committed to Penn State, Holden Staes had life on autopilot through most of his high school junior year in 2020-21. But with one decision in February 2021, the Atlanta native re-opened h i s re c r u i t m e n t a n d , u nw i t t i n g ly, prompted a turbulent next 12 months for himself. All of this came in one calendar year for Staes. • Feb. 5, 2021: Staes decommits from Penn State. • Feb. 10, 2021: Notre Dame tight ends coach John McNulty extends Staes a scholarship offer. • May 8, 2021: Staes verbally com- mits to McNulty, Irish head coach Brian Kelly and Notre Dame. • Nov. 29, 2 02 1 : Ke l ly a b r u p t ly leaves for LSU. • Dec. 3, 2021: Marcus Freeman is named the 30th Irish head coach. • Feb. 1, 2022: McNulty departs Notre Dame to become offensive co- ordinator at Boston College. So much for smooth sailing. "I was definitely bummed out, but that's just part of the business," Staes recalled of McNulty's departure. "I wasn't too surprised that it happened, but it was just unfortunate that it had to play out with Coach Kelly leaving and [McNulty] leaving, too." Two days after McNulty's depar- ture, Notre Dame hired Gerad Parker as Staes' next position coach and the next keeper of the Tight End U tra- dition that Staes was already taking notice of as a youngster growing up in SEC country. "Notre Dame always stood out to me," Staes recalled. "Watching college football, I just always knew how much they used their tight ends. "And then it being a really good aca- demic school, all of that was always something that stood out to me." A versatile athlete with a broad frame and high talent ceiling, Staes held an impressive offer sheet that in- cluded home-state Georgia, Alabama, Ohio State and, obviously, Penn State. Staes parlayed his strong 2021 se- n i o r s ea s o n a t T h e We s t m i n s te r School in Atlanta into a 2022 Polyne- sian Bowl all-star game invite in Janu- ary. After an impressive and impactful week of workouts in Honolulu, Staes said his spirits are high, he's ready for his campus arrival in June and the next step in his football career. "The helmet in my room, the jersey [from the Polynesian Bowl], I look at it every day, that was an experience of a lifetime," Staes said. "I thought I played pretty well, so that was good to come home and have the confidence going into offseason training." ✦ Turbulence Behind, Holden Staes Is Ready To Work The On3 Consensus lists Staes, who originally committed to Penn State before flipping to Notre Dame, as the No. 9 tight end and No. 225 overall player in the country. PHOTO BY CHAD WEAVER HOLDEN STAES TIGHT END 6-4 · 224 THE WESTMINSTER SCHOOL ATLANTA RANKINGS STARS NAT. POS. STATE consensus ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ 225 9 24 ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ 200 9 22 ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ 277 7 26 ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ — 8 26 ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ — 21 36 STATISTICS • Had 14 receptions for 240 yards and three touchdowns, plus 23 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks and one interception, during his junior season in 2020. NOTABLE • Born on June 10, 2003. • 2022 All-American Bowl participant. • 2021 Georgia first-team all-state. • Three-time Georgia 5-AAA all-region first-team offense (2019-21). RECRUITMENT • Committed to Notre Dame on May 8, 2021. • Will enroll at Notre Dame in the summer. • Originally committed to Penn State but backed off his Nittany Lions' pledge in February 2021 and received an offer from the Irish five days later. • Also held offers from Alabama, Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Michigan, Ohio State, Texas and others. • Recruited by former tight ends coach John McNulty. • Took a few visits to Notre Dame, including of- ficial visits in June 2021 and December 2021. 2022 PROJECTION • Staes has the size and athleticism to play right away, but in a loaded tight end room, he's likely to redshirt. THEY SAID IT On3 analyst Thomas Frank Carr: "Staes shows the ability to threaten the seams of a defense with long, powerful strides that eat up ground in a hurry. He also has great body control to navigate traffic and get to his spot quickly. He shows natural instincts as a receiver as well. "The Westminster High School product has a good feel for finding open spaces in a defense and making the throw easier for his quarterback. He does all of this and makes it look fairly natural." On3 director of scouting and rankings Charles Power: "We've always been a little higher on Holden Staes than the rest of the industry. We feel pretty good about it after going back and looking at his senior video. "Staes also looked good in the Polynesian Bowl; he showed some soft hands and strong ball skills and looks to be more of a natural receiving threat than was probably shown in his high school offense." National recruiting analyst Tom Lemming: "He has the build, hands and overall athletic ability to excel at the next level either at tight end or defen- sive end. On offense he can run, catch and block. He's also been split out at receiver to give you an idea about his speed. "He's a willing and dominant blocker. He can win the leverage battle, shows good use of hands in space and stays with his blocks until the whistle. Just a terrific all-around player, Staes shows the athleticism the college scouts love to see in a re- ceiving tight end." 70 MARCH 2022 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED

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