Blue and Gold Illustrated

August 2022

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

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20 AUGUST 2022 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED to the three-technique tackle spot in 2023 when Ademilola departs. He had 13 quarterback pressures in 202 pass- rush snaps last year as a nose tackle, per PFF. He's back at his preferred three- technique spot now. "There's just more freedom, more time to move around with tackle," Cross said. Cross' size (6-0 7 ⁄8, 275 pounds) may always be part of his story, but he has offered ample evidence it's not a hin- drance. He slipped through blockers with impressive frequency in the spring. "He's enhanced his ability to get off blocks," defensive line coach Al Wash- ington said. "His production comes from separation. He's so explosive and he has such a motor that he's hard to block, hard to deal with." Defensive end Nana Osafo-Mensah's senior offseason is the inverse of Cross'. My ro n Ta gova i l oa -A m osa 's ex i t opened the starting spot at strong- side end, where Osafo-Mensah played 224 snaps and had 2 sacks as the No. 2 option. Notre Dame moved junior Ry- lie Mills there from defensive tackle, though, and spring practice furthered the breakout expectations. Mills' switch left Osafo-Mensah be- hind a younger player, but still in a role where he can contribute each week. On the other side, vyper end Osita Ekwonu is battling for a No. 3 spot with freshmen Aiden Gobaira and Joshua Burnham. He's healthy after missing all of 2021 with an Achilles tear and could end the season among Notre Dame's leaders in special teams snaps. ONTO THE NEXT STOP Our late, great editor Lou Somo- gyi's "one-third rule" rarely misses in predicting the outcome of a recruiting class. For the uninitiated, the theory states that one third of a class will be bona fide NFL prospects or multi-year starters, another third will be role play- ers or special teamers, and the final third will leave via the transfer portal, medical retirement or some other form of attrition. It fits the 2019 class well. There are already two NFL Draft picks, with Foskey almost certain to be a third. As it stands, the class should end Year 4 with seven or eight multi- year starters. Graduate seasons in 2023 might bump that number even higher. It should have about the same number of second-stringers and special teamers this year. And it has eight transfers. Some of the departed players, like safety KJ Wallace, were special teams staples. Bramblett was a three-year starter. Everyone from the class on the 2022 roster should be a special teamer or No. 2 on the depth chart at minimum this season, meaning any future trans- fers would be players who had a role. Four of the eight transfers departed as graduates after the 2021 regular season. Four others left as undergrads. Free- man understands he can't fight attri- tion. The one-third rule has stood the test of three decades, after all. If most of the departing players are moving on as graduates to look for a bigger role, he's OK with that. Supportive of it, even. "We had quite a few guys get their degree and say, 'I want to go somewhere else I'll play more,'" Freeman said. "Great. That's why it's there. Get your degree from this place and go play the game you love as long as you can. That's where I think the transfer portal has huge benefits." These eight players have departed as transfers, with their departure date listed in parentheses: • Offensive lineman John Olmstead (August 2020): The first player from the class to transfer landed at Football Championship Series program Lafay- ette College and started four games last year. • Cornerback Isaiah Rutherford (Jan- uary 2021): Totaled 37 defense and special teams snaps in two seasons before transferring to Arizona, where he started seven games in 2021. • Wide receiver Kendall Abdur-Rah- man (January 2021): Made one ap- pearance in two seasons and is now at Western Kentucky. Cornerback Cam Hart notched a pair of interceptions and broke up a team-high 7 passes in his first season as a starter a year ago. PHOTO BY CHAD WEAVER

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