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 79 2022 FOOTBALL RECRUITING ISSUE Offensive Tackles (8) Sixth-Year Seniors — Josh Lugg Fifth-Year seniors — None Seniors — None Juniors — Tosh Baker and Michael Carmody Sophomores — Joe Alt, Blake Fisher and Caleb Johnson Freshmen — Ty Chan and Aamil Wagner Note: It wouldn't be surprising to see Lugg move to guard this offseason to make way for Alt and Fisher to be the starting tackles even though Lugg started 12 of 13 games at right tackle in 2021. Each with at least two years left to play in blue and gold, Alt and Fisher are the future at tackle for Notre Dame. Offensive Guards/Centers (8) Fifth-Year Seniors — Jarrett Patterson Seniors — Zeke Correll and Andrew Kristofic Juniors — None Sophomores — Pat Coogan and Rocco Spindler Freshmen — Ashton Craig, Billy Schrauth* and Joey Tanona* Notes: Patterson's return for a fifth season is as- tronomically important for continuity along the line. If Lugg does switch positions, look for him to start at right guard and Kristofic to hold steady at left guard, where he started every game in the second half of the season. Defensive Ends (9) Fifth-Year Seniors — Justin Ademilola Seniors — Osita Ekwonu, Isaiah Foskey and NaNa Osafo-Mensah Juniors — Alexander Ehrensberger Sophomores —Jason Onye and Will Schweitzer Freshmen — Tyson Ford* and Aidan Gobaira* Notes: The return of Foskey and Ademilola, Notre Dame's top two sack leaders in 2021, is huge for Irish pass rush prospects in 2022. Osafo-Mensah and Ehrensberger are candidates to replace Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa at the strong-side defensive end spot. Defensive Tackles (7) Fifth-Year Seniors — Jayson Ademilola Seniors — Howard Cross and Jacob Lacey Juniors — Aidan Keanaaina and Rylie Mills Sophomores — Gabriel Rubio Freshmen — Donovan Hinish Notes: Ademilola was arguably Notre Dame's best defensive lineman outside of Foskey last year. He led the Irish in quarterback pressures (43). He'll resume his starting position, but the Irish need someone to emerge as a starting replacement for Kurt Hinish, who left as the program's all-time leader in games played (61). Rovers (3) Fifth-Year Seniors — None Seniors — Jack Kiser Juniors — Jordan Botelho Sophomores — None Freshmen — Nolan Ziegler* Notes: Kiser was a mainstay at rover last year, but he lost his running mate in former Ohio State transfer Isaiah Pryor, who was a key contributor for the Irish at rover on passing downs. Botelho might not be the best option at rover in coverage, but he could be a difference-maker if sent to the quarterback in exotic blitz packages. Either way, Botelho needs to get him- self on the field more in 2022. Inside Linebackers (7) Fifth-Year Seniors — Bo Bauer Seniors — JD Bertrand and Marist Liufau Juniors — None Sophomores — Prince Kollie Freshmen — Joshua Burnham*, Jaylen Sneed* and Junior Tuihalamaka* Notes: The likely starters from this bunch are Bauer at middle linebacker and Liufau at Will linebacker. The former was a solid backup to Drew White for multiple seasons, and the latter is coming off a fractured ankle suffered the week before the 2021 season opener. Bertrand led the team in tackles with 102 while start- ing in place of Liufau last year, but he was also at the top of the list in missed tackles (19). Second place holders in those categories had 55 stops and eight missed tackles. Cornerbacks (9) Fifth-Year Seniors — TaRiq Bracy Seniors — Cam Hart Juniors — Clarence Lewis Sophomores — Ryan Barnes, Philip Riley and Chance Tucker Freshmen — Jayden Bellamy, Jaden Mickey* and Benjamin Morrison Notes: Hart and Lewis started all 13 games in 2021. Lewis endured a bit of a sophomore slump, and it never showed more than when he allowed Okla- homa State wide receiver Tay Martin to score three touchdowns in the Fiesta Bowl. There could be com- petition with some of the younger corners on the ros- ter for his starting spot in 2022. Bracy would be the best option to play nickel corner, as he did in 2021, if he elects to play another season at Notre Dame. Safeties (6) Fifth-Year Seniors — DJ Brown and Houston Griffith Seniors — Brandon Joseph Juniors — Ramon Henderson and Xavier Watts Sophomores — Justin Walters Freshmen — None Notes: The addition from Joseph from Northwest- ern saved this position group, one that lost All-Amer- ican safety Kyle Hamilton the NFL Draft. Joseph was an All-American at Northwestern. He'll likely start at free safety while Griffith and Brown battle for strong safety duties. Don't count out Henderson to enter that competition, too, even though he primarily played as a free safety after moving over from corner in the middle of 2021. Specialists (5) Sixth-Year Seniors — Blake Grupe (kicker) Fifth-Year Seniors: Michael Vinson (long snapper) Seniors — None Juniors — Alex Peitsch (long snapper) Sophomores — Joshua Bryan (kicker) Freshmen — Bryce McFerson (punter) Notes: Grupe left Arkansas State as the program's all-time leader in points scored (354). He replaces three-year starter Jonathan Doerer, who was solid in making better than 75 percent of his kicks at Notre Dame. Grupe has made 74.4 percent of his career kicks. Vinson was put on scholarship after starting ev- ery game the last two seasons. McFerson will battle with Harvard walk-on transfer Jon Sot to replace Jay Bramblett, who transferred to LSU. ✦ Three-year middle linebacker starter Drew White is no longer on the roster, so longtime backup Bo Bauer has the chance to become a starter at Notre Dame for the first time as a fifth-year senior. PHOTO BY CHAD WEAVER

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