Blue and Gold Illustrated

June-July 2022

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

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BLUEGOLDONLINE.COM JUNE/JULY 2022 33 Belmont (N.C.) South Point class of 2023 offensive tackle Sullivan Ab- sher narrowed down his recruitment to Clemson, North Carolina State and Notre Dame six weeks before his eventual com- mitment. And at the time he announced his final three schools, some recruiting pundits felt that Dabo Swinney's Tigers would keep Absher in the Carolinas. But the combination of offensive line success and tradition under position coach Harry Hiestand with the weight of a Notre Dame degree made the Fight- ing Irish the choice for him. "On the football side of it, you have Harry Hiestand as the offensive line coach, and he's one of the best to ever do it," Absher told Blue & Gold Illus- trated. "And on the other side, you have the Notre Dame degree, which you can go anywhere in the world with." Former Irish offensive line coach Jeff Quinn extended an offer to Absher on Oct. 21, 2021, and the four-star recruit was extremely interested in Notre Dame right away. The Irish didn't miss a beat in Ab- sher's recruitment following Quinn's de- parture and Hiestand's arrival as the new offensive line coach under Marcus Free- man. Absher visited Notre Dame at the end of January and clicked with Hiestand. And Absher returned to South Bend for a second visit for the weekend of the Blue-Gold Game. They got to campus April 21, and after a day and a half on campus he had made his decision. And he wanted to inform the coaches face to face. "It's something big that I didn't want to do over the phone," he said. On April 22, Absher had various meetings and shared a couple meals with the Irish offensive linemen. And after touring campus, Absher was head- ing back to the hotel with his mom. "I said to her, 'I think I need to do this. I can't see myself anywhere else.' I texted Coach Freeman and Coach Hi- estand and asked if they had a moment any time to meet tonight to tell them something." Freeman had an alumni event at the stadium, and he had Absher meet him there after it concluded. Hiestand met up with them as well. "I broke the news to them, and it was a special moment that I'll probably never forget," Absher explained. "I had always anticipated not committing until the high school season or after it. That's what I was telling Coach Hiestand and Coach Free- man as well. I had been telling them I was 99 percent sure I wanted to come here, but I wanted to take a couple more officials. "When my mom and I went back up there for that weekend, I didn't need to see anything else. I had that feeling. I couldn't see myself ending up anywhere else." Absher thinks the world of Hiestand and is fired up at the thought of playing for the veteran coach. And with Freeman, Absher is excited about the future of the program. "Coach Hiestand said I could play guard or tackle," Absher said. "We just have to see how I fit in with the current group of guys. I'm looking forward to seeing where I end up playing. I can't wait to get up there. I know Coach Free- man is building something special. I'm ready to see where it goes. "It keeps getting better," Absher said of his relationship with Hiestand. "At this point, we don't even talk about foot- ball anymore. We shoot the breeze and talk about whatever. It's a really smooth relationship. I really enjoy being around him and talking to him. I learn a lot from him, and he's not even my coach yet." On3 lists Absher as the No. 2 prospect in North Carolina, and the nation's No. 10 offensive tackle and No. 98 overall player. Absher was named first-team All-Big South 3A in 2021. He helped pave the way for South Point to reach the 2021 North Carolina 3A state semifinals as a No. 16 seed. The Red Raiders finished the season 11-4 with their run-heavy offense, rush- ing for 3,973 yards and 50 touchdowns. ✦ COMMITMENT PROFILE SULLIVAN ABSHER Irish Beat Out Clemson For Massive Offensive Tackle The 6-6, 295-pound Absher is rated as a four-star prospect, the No. 2 recruit in North Carolina, and the No. 10 offensive tackle and No. 98 overall player in the country by On3. PHOTO COURTESY ON3.COM FILM ANALYSIS "Sullivan Absher is one of the more dominant run blockers in what we think is a very strong offensive line cycle nationally. He pairs a big frame at 6-foot-6, 295 pounds with move- ment skills, coordination and physicality. Absher fires off the ball and explodes into defenders. He is flexible enough to get un- derneath the pads of much shorter defensive linemen. "What separates Absher from some other top run blockers is his ability at the second level — he's a natural, effortless mover in space and serves as a weapon in the run game. He has the size and length to play offensive tackle but remains a bit of a projec- tion in pass protection at the next level, com- ing from a run-heavy option offense." — On3 director of scouting and rankings Charles Power "I didn't need to see anything else. I had that feeling. I couldn't see myself ending up anywhere else." ABSHER ON COMMITTING TO NOTRE DAME

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