Blue and Gold Illustrated

August 2022

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

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Page 13 of 55

14 AUGUST 2022 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED UNDER THE DOME Davis Chatfield — Golf The graduate student's fifth year at Notre Dame was a suc- cess, to say the very least. The Attleboro, Mass., native placed 15th at the NCAA Regionals in Palm Beach, Fla., notching the best postseason finish of his career. Chatfield ultimately earned NCAA Division I PING All-Region honors, becoming just the sec- ond Notre Dame golfer to do so in three straight seasons. His career stroke average of 71.63 ranks second all time in program history. Emma Clark — Softball The senior outfielder from Huntington Beach, Calif., earned third-team all-re- gion and second-team All-ACC honors after hitting .362. She started all 52 games and posted a team-high 67 hits with 47 runs scored, 22 RBIs and 12 steals. Clark, an accounting major, also earned her third All-ACC academic honors in late June. During the past four years, she has notched a .364 average with 115 runs scored, 55 RBIs and 52 steals in 172 games played. Jack Findlay — Baseball The left-handed pitcher from Ledgewood, N.J., and Collegiate Baseball News- paper Freshman All-American posted one of the most memo- rable postseasons in the na- tion this year. He recorded all four of his saves in the NCAA Tournament, and he threw five scoreless innings against No. 1 Tennessee June 12 to send the Irish to their first College World Series since 2002. Findlay finished the season with a 6-2 record and a 2.17 ERA over 20 total appearances. Page Freeman — Tennis The junior from Ashland, Mass., excelled for the Irish on the court and in the classroom this past season. After being named to the All-ACC Third Team on June 9, the neuroscience ma- jor earned a spot on the All-ACC Academic team a week later. Freeman posted a 13-10 record in 2022 and qualified for the NCAA Doubles Championship. She was the only member of the Irish women's tennis team to earn All-ACC honors. TOP TOP OF THE CLASS OF THE CLASS Irish student-athletes excelling on the field and in the classroom ✦ GIMME FIVE The last time Notre Dame fans saw their defense on the field, it had just been shredded by a rather pedestrian Oklahoma State offense in the Fiesta Bowl. The Irish surrendered 605 total yards, including 371 through the air. Those defensive struggles remained on people's minds this offseason, and so did the fact that Notre Dame's secondary is now without All-American safety Kyle Hamilton. College football analyst Phil Steele may quell some of those fears with his 2022 position group rankings, which have the Fighting Irish defensive backs at No. 5 nationally. "Notre Dame has finished No. 8, No. 13, No. 19 and No. 21 the last four years in my pass defense rankings," Steele said in his preseason magazine. "Last year they only had two starters back. Cornerback Cam Hart turned down the NFL, so they have three back (in 2022) and add safety Brandon Joseph, who was first-team All-Big Ten with Northwestern in 2020." Steele lists Joseph — the 6-1, 192-pound All-America transfer — as the No. 8 draft-eligible free safety heading into the fall, and Hart is the No. 19 cornerback on his list. Steele summarized his assessment of the Irish secondary by calling it "the most experienced in years." The second safety spot is up for grabs between graduate students DJ Brown and Houston Griffith, and junior Ramon Henderson. At corner, freshman Jaden Mickey made some noise this spring but junior Clarence Lewis is likely the top option to be the starter opposite Hart. — Ashton Pollard CHARTING THE IRISH NOTRE DAME NO. 3 IN SPORTS ILLUSTRATED'S POWER FIVE DESIRABILITY RANKINGS It's not a conference realignment conversation without mention of Notre Dame football. And these days, those talks are abundant. The latest round of realignment was set off by the decisions by UCLA and USC to move from the Pac- 12 to the Big Ten, effective in 2024. Numerous schools — both directly and indirectly related to those leagues — began exploring their own conference options. For the time being, Notre Dame is largely sitting back and watching things unfold, knowing it has an open invite to any conference in the country. But what if there were no conferences? Which schools would then be the most highly coveted? Sports Illustrated's Pat Forde dove into that question in July. "This latest existential crisis in college sports seemed like a good inflection point for examining who really brings what to the table among the 69 schools currently in the Power Five, or ticketed to arrive in 2023," Forde said. Notre Dame came out at No. 3 behind Ohio State and Michigan, respectively. Forde used five metrics to determine his final list: rankings in football, academics and all sports, plus attendance and broadcast viewership. Outside of attendance — Notre Dame Stadium seats just less than 78,000 — the Irish scored in the top 10 in every category. Viewership is the highest mark for Notre Dame, which is unsurprising given the home games are televised on NBC and nearly every away game makes it onto ABC, FOX or another high-level network. Of the top 10 schools listed, Notre Dame is the best academic school. Forde used the most recent U.S. News and World Report national university rankings to make that determination. Similarly, the all-sports category used the most recent rankings from the Learfield Directors' Cup. There is an obvious theme with the remainder of the top 10: the other nine schools are either cur- rent SEC or Big Ten members or are slated to join one of those two conferences in the next few years. A "Power Two" might be coming, but rest assured, Notre Dame will find a home. — Ashton Pollard PHIL STEELE'S TOP DEFENSIVE BACK UNITS FOR 2022 Rk. School 1. Georgia 2. Texas A&M 3. NC State 4. Penn State 5. Notre Dame Rk. School Football Academics All Sports Attendance Viewership Total 1. Ohio State 2 20(t) 4 3 2(t) 31 2. Michigan 16 8 3 1 5(t) 33 3. Notre Dame 6 5 8 16 2(t) 37 4. Texas 12(t) 14 1 7 7(t) 41 5. Georgia 3 19 18 8 5(t) 53 6. Florida 18 11(t) 5 12 12(t) 58 7. Wisconsin 8 17 23 15 12(t) 75 8. Oklahoma 5 52(t) 10 13 1 81 9. USC 30 10 12 23(t) 9 84 10. Alabama 1 55(t) 21 4 4 85

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