Blue and Gold Illustrated

March 2022

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

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82 MARCH 2022 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED 2022 FOOTBALL RECRUITING ISSUE prospect nationally, also is a recruit the Irish may turn up the heat on. OFFENSIVE LINE Committed: 0 Projected Take: 3-4 Synopsis: Typically, Notre Dame al- ready has an offensive line commit at this point in the cycle. There are high expectations for Harry Hiestand in his second stint as the Irish's offensive line coach, and there's a great group of pros- pects for him to target who already have high interest in spending their college days in South Bend. While there are higher ranked play- ers on the 2023 offensive line board, our sources indicate that Belmont (N.C.) South Point's Sullivan Absher, the No. 10 offensive tackle and No. 203 overall player in the land, may be prior- ity No. 1 for Hiestand and Co. Absher visited campus for the first time at the end of January and loved his trip. Des Moines (Iowa) Southeast Polk's Kadyn Proctor, a five-star player, is listed as the No. 1 offensive tackle and No. 5 overall prospect in the country and is another player high on the wish list. Proctor has visited South Bend twice already. Notre Dame looks to be the lead school for Rock Island (Ill.) Alleman's Charles Jagusah, who ranks as the No. 6 offensive tackle and No. 77 overall pros- pect in America. He's only visited cam- pus once, and whenever he makes trip No. 2 to South Bend, he'll be on commit watch. Brockton (Mass.) Thayer Academy's Samson Okunlola hasn't been to Notre Dame yet, but the staff is working hard on the nation's No. 2 offensive tackle and No. 53 overall player. Look for Okunlola to take an official visit to see the Irish this spring or summer. Notre Dame is in a battle with Clem- son, South Carolina and others for Mount Pleasant (S.C.) Oceanside Col- legiate Academy's Monroe Freeling, who ranks as America's No. 4 offen- sive tackle and No. 67 overall prospect. Freeling has visited campus twice, and we expect him to be back in South Bend in the coming months. Ramsey (N.J.) Don Bosco Prep's Chase Bisontis, the No. 3 interior offen- sive lineman and No. 41 overall recruit, is another big-time target for the Irish staff. They're battling Ohio State, Penn State and a handful of other programs for his services. Ohio State is considered the team to beat for Cincinnati (Ohio) Lakota East's Austin Siereveld, but the No. 22 interior offensive lineman and No. 303 overall recruit has been to Notre Dame twice for visits. The Irish have signed 10 offensive line prospects in the past two recruiting cy- cles, and the expectation is that the staff will take three or four blockers in 2023. DEFENSIVE LINE Committed: 2 Projected Take: 3-4 Synopsis: This is a key year for Notre Dame defensive line recruiting and first-year position coach Al Wash- ington. He inherits a commitment from Tampa (Fla.) Berkeley Prep's Keon Keeley, the No. 2 edge and No. 21 overall player nationally, but Alabama and oth- ers are working hard to flip Keeley away from the Irish. Holding on to Keeley is the top goal for the Irish staff. Mentor (Ohio) High's Brenan Vernon, the No. 10 defensive lineman and No. 63 overall player nationally, is locked in with his pledge. Vernon committed to Notre Dame over Alabama, Michigan, Ohio State and others last summer. The staff would be ecstatic to land Washington (D.C.) Archbishop Carroll's Nyckoles Harbor, the nation's No. 1 edge and No. 12 overall player. He's been clocked running the 200-meter race in 20.79 seconds, the fourth-fastest time in high school history, per FloTrack. Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy's Sam- uel M'Pemba is another five-star pros- pect whom the Irish would be fired up to add. Ranked as the nation's No. 1 athlete and No. 9 overall player, M'Pemba could be rover or vyper in South Bend. Yet another five-star who Notre Dame is after is Allen (Texas) High's Da- vid Hicks Jr., the nation's No. 1 defen- sive lineman and No. 4 overall prospect. Oklahoma is considered to be the early favorite for Hicks, though. The Irish are in a good spot for Fort Washington (Md.) DeMatha Catholic's Jason Moore, the No. 6 defensive line- man and No. 35 overall prospect nation- ally. He had a great visit to South Bend last fall and is likely to return for an of- ficial visit this spring or summer. Notre Dame looks to be in the driver's seat for Hagerstown (Md.) St. James School's Devan Houstan. The Cana- dian-born prospect, who ranks as the No. 35 defensive lineman and No. 241 overall player in America, had a great visit to South Bend in late January. Other defensive line prospects to keep Des Moines (Iowa) Southeast Polk's Kaydyn Proctor, who has visited Notre Dame twice already, is rated by the On3 Consensus as the No. 1 offensive tackle and No. 5 overall prospect in the country. PHOTO COURTESY BIRM/LETTERMEN ROW

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