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 83 2022 FOOTBALL RECRUITING ISSUE an eye on are West Roxbury (Mass.) Catholic Memorial's Boubacar Traore (No. 119 overall and a Boston College commit), New Bern (N.C.) High's Keith Sampson Jr. (No. 197) and Indianapolis Cathedral's Kendrick Gilbert (No. 394). LINEBACKER/ROVER Committed: 1 Projected Take: 3 Synopsis: Notre Dame's linebacker class got off to a hot start when it landed Merrillville (Ind.) Andrean's Drayk Bowen, the No. 4 linebacker and No. 46 overall prospect nationally. Bowen is the face of the Irish 2023 class and is rock solid in his pledge. Notre Dame is pursuing several other top linebackers in this class. One of them is Lawrence (Mass.) Central Cath- olic's Preston Zinter, who the On3 Con- sensus lists as the nation's No. 26 tight end and No. 433 overall player. However, the Irish staff sees him playing one of their linebacker spots. One day before this issue of BGI was published, Zinter announced that he would be making his commitment on Feb. 11. The expec- tation going into his decision was that he'd be choosing Notre Dame. Zinter last visited in late January and raved about his time in South Bend. "It was an awesome visit," Zinter said. "The highlight for me was really just having the opportunity to spend more time with the coaches, recruits and the guys already committed like Drayk Bowen and Brenan Vernon." Denton (Texas) Ryan's Anthony Hill (five-star, No. 10 overall), Baton Rouge (La.) University Lab's Jaiden Ausberry (No. 36) and Tampa (Fla.) Jesuit's Troy Bowles (No. 44) are the No. 1, 2 and 3 ranked linebackers in the land, respec- tively. Notre Dame is after all three of them. Last summer, the staff hosted Pitts- burgh Brashear's Ta'Mere Robinson, the No. 8 linebacker and No. 100 over- all prospect, and Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy's Jordan Hall, the No. 17 line- backer and No. 217 overall player, for respective visits. The staff is working on both prospects. A few other linebackers to know are Fairfax (Va.) High's Tony Rojas (No. 333 overall), Philadelphia St. Joseph's Jo- siah Trotter (No. 348) and Perkasie (Pa.) Pennridge's Phil Picciotti (No. 365). Notre Dame signed a big linebacker class in 2022 with four players, It's tough to project this early but three is the number we like for the Irish to land at the position this cycle. DEFENSIVE BACK Committed: 3 Projected Take: 4-5 Synopsis: Notre Dame defensive back recruiting is off to a hot start, but it's the finish that will be most important. One of the program's most prized commits thus far is Denton (Texas) Guyer's Peyton Bowen, the No. 4 safety and No. 52 overall prospect in the land. He committed to the Irish Jan. 1, but has since taken visits to Ole Miss and Okla- homa. The Irish will need to fend off other programs for this elite prospect. Notre Dame also has pledges locked in from Las Vegas Bishop Gorman's Justyn Rhett, the No. 15 cornerback and No. 124 overall player nationally, and Irvington (N.J.) High's Adon Shuler, the No. 8 safety and No. 126 overall recruit in the land. With three early commitments, who could round out the defensive back class? Notre Dame would be over the moon if it can pull off an upset and land Ho- schton (Ga.) Mill Creek five-star Caleb Downs, the No. 1 safety and No. 8 overall recruit in the country. Alabama, Clem- son, Georgia and Ohio State are among the schools they are competing against for Downs. St. Louis De Smet's Christian Gray, the nation's No. 24 cornerback and No. 180 overall recruit, is another key target for the Irish. Notre Dame has hosted Gray on campus five times al- ready, more than any other school, and look like the team to beat for him. Dallas South Oak Cliff's Malik Mu- hammad is another top of the board target for the Irish. Ranked as the na- tion's No. 5 cornerback and No. 37 over- all prospect, winning the Muhammad sweepstakes won't be easy, but the staff is working at it. Coppell (Texas) High's Braxton My- ers (No. 107 overall), Roseville (Mich.) High's Amare Snowden (No. 502) and West Chester (Ohio) Lakota West's Ma- lik Hartford (unranked) are among the other names to know. SPECIALIST Committed: 0 Projected Take: 0-1 Synopsis: Notre Dame has taken a scholarship specialist each of the past three recruiting cycles. It doesn't seem likely that the Irish will make it four years in a row, but it's always possible. ✦ Lawrence (Mass.) Central Catholic linebacker Preston Zinter, a three-star prospect, could be closing in on a Notre Dame commitment. PHOTO BY CHAD WEAVER Denton (Texas) Guyer's Peyton Bowen, the No. 4 safety and No. 52 overall prospect in the land, is committed to Notre Dame, but the Irish staff has to battle to keep his pledge locked in. PHOTO COURTESY PEYTON BOWEN

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