Blue and Gold Illustrated

August 2022

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

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28 AUGUST 2022 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY PATRICK ENGEL N otre Dame's pursuit and addi- tion of former Northwestern All- American safety Brandon Joseph this winter stood out in its on- field magnitude and its exception to the school's standard transfer practices. Not only did the Irish import the most accomplished transfer in team history, they recruited, landed and admitted him as an undergraduate in just a 10- day span. Joseph hit the transfer portal on Dec. 30, spoke with Notre Dame head coach Marcus Freeman that same day, set up an official visit a week in ad- vance and committed when that visit ended Jan. 8. Two days after making his choice, he began classes. He lived up to his billing by snatching an interception in each of the first seven spring practices and making 3 tackles (1 for loss) in the Blue-Gold Game. He's on the preseason watch list for the Thorpe Award, which goes to the country's best defensive back. "He fits," Notre Dame safeties coach Chris O'Leary said. "He's a grinder. He's blue-collar. He leads, has great in- stincts, great ball skills. The stuff you saw early in his career at Northwestern, it's innately in him." Joseph isn't here without a coordi- nated push and sense of urgency from the staff and the school. Notre Dame saw a difference-maker in the portal, targeted him and landed him. "While the transfer portal is there, we have to be able to utilize it," Freeman told Blue & Gold Illustrated in June. Freeman understood even when re- cruiting Joseph that his next forays into the undergrad transfer market won't likely be this harmonious or fruitful. Joseph is, after all, an exception. A three-in-10-year one. Joseph is the rare undergrad trans- fer athlete who cleared Notre Dame's stringent admission process. Not since safety Alohi Gilman (Navy) in 2017 had the Irish landed a transfer who was not a graduate. They also added wide receiver Amir Carlisle (USC) in 2012. Gilman had just completed his freshman year when he changed schools. Carlisle left USC at the semester break of his first year. Jo- seph, meanwhile, was halfway through his junior year. Freeman has helped make Notre Dame a destination or serious option for more top-100 high school recruits. Landing Joseph is more proof the Irish can make similar noise and attract com- modities in the transfer market when they want to — or are able to. Notre Dame's transfer admission pro- cess and policies largely restrict its ath- letic teams to graduate students when portal shopping. All told, Notre Dame football has taken 15 transfers since 2012, beginning with Carlisle. Twelve were graduate students. The Irish have found plenty of contributors and start- ers in that group — including 2021 quar- terback Jack Coan — but they're picking from a smaller pool than most of their FBS peers. Per its admissions page, Notre Dame has room to enroll about 50 undergradu- ate transfer students each fall semes- TEAM EFFORT Landing Brandon Joseph has Marcus Freeman 'encouraged' by Notre Dame's transfer portal recruiting process Safety Brandon Joseph is one of just three undergraduate transfers to join the Irish football team since 2012. PHOTO BY CHAD WEAVER

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