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

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50 PRESEASON 2022 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED FOOTBALL RECRUITING BY MIKE SINGER T he Fighting Irish had 23 verbal com- mitments in the 2023 class as of Aug. 15, a group that ranked No. 2 na- tionally according to the On3 Consen- sus Football Team Recruiting Rankings. Blue & Gold Illustrated expects Notre Dame to sign right around 25 high school players — give or take a couple — in the 2023 class. While the Irish are looking to add more prospects to the fold, it may lose one or two that it will have to replace. As good of a run as the Irish have been on late this summer with new verbals — landing three-star safety Ben Minich, plus linebacker Jaiden Ausberry and running back Dylan Edwards, a pair of four-star Under Armour All-Americans — the top headline in recent weeks has been whom the staff may lose off their commit list. Tampa (Fla.) Berkeley Prep's Keon Keeley, the No. 1 edge and No. 3 overall player per On3's rankings, was the first commitment in the Irish's 2023 class, picking Notre Dame in June 2021. But since his initial pledge, he's taken visits to Alabama, Florida and Ohio State. He was in Tuscaloosa to check out Nick Saban's program at the end of July, and rumors started swirling that he was wavering in his pledge to Notre Dame. The way the situation is currently trending, it would be a surprise if Keeley ended up signing with the Irish come Na- tional Signing Day. But the staff is con- tinuing to fight for the five-star recruit. De n to n ( Texa s) G uye r 's Pey to n Bowen, the No. 2 safety and No. 18 overall player in the land per On3, has taken trips to Alabama, Oklahoma and Texas A&M since picking the Irish on New Year's Day, but there's much more optimism that Notre Dame will be able to hold on to his commitment than Keeley's. However, there's still battling to be done for the five-star prospect. Notre Dame has three On3 five-star commitments, with Rock Island (Ill.) Al- leman's Charles Jagusah, the No. 1 of- fensive tackle and No. 6 overall player nationally, joining Bowen and Keeley with that lofty status. The better the re- cruits a school is landing, the more cov- eted those players are by other programs. We're seeing that with this Irish class. If Bowen or Keeley were to flip, then the Irish would look to fill those spots. Notre Dame hasn't offered any "backup" plans at safety but have at the vyper spot. Englewood (Colo.) Cherry Creek's Blake Purchase, a three-star recruit and the No. 46 edge in Amer- ica, and Murfreesboro (Tenn.) River- dale's Caleb Herring, the No. 13 edge and No. 98 overall prospect in the land, added offers from Notre Dame in late July. Herring is committed to Tennessee, while Purchase remains uncommitted. On Aug. 15, the Irish extended a schol- arship to Visalia (Calif.) Central Valley Christian's Jaeden Moore, a four-star re- cruit and the No. 39 edge in the country. Notre Dame is having to play catch up with these players, but there is a long time to go until the early signing period in December. OTHER POSITIONS TO FILL Quarterback is the glaring need left on Notre Dame's 2023 commitment list. Detroit Martin Luther King's Dante Moore, who is On3's No. 6 signal-caller and No. 43 overall player, was the Irish's top quarterback prospect for several months before he ended up picking Or- egon in early July. Notre Dame then turned to offering Dripping Springs (Texas) High's Austin Novosad, the No. 10 quarterback and No. 188 overall player nationally, but he was already committed to Baylor and decided to stick with his pledge. Ohio State and Texas A&M were also in pur- suit of Novosad. Hendersonville (Tenn.) Pope John Paul II's Kenny Minchey, who is the No. 14 quarterback and No. 276 over- all recruit in America per On3, is the latest signal-caller offer dished out by Irish offensive coordinator Tommy Rees and Co. Minchey is committed to Pitts- burgh, though. Although there are four months until the early signing period in December, many top prospects commit to pro- grams before the start of their senior season. As the Irish fill their remaining spots, there may be "flips" from other schools. Minchey isn't the only quar- terback the staff is working on; there are others behind the scenes. Notre Dame wants another offen- sive weapon and has St. Louis Chris- tian Brothers' Jeremiyah Love, On3's No. 5 running back and No. 107 overall prospect in the land, at the top of the board. It's expected that Love will make a decision on a school before the start of September, and Texas A&M and Notre Dame are on his short list. Notre Dame has three receivers com- mitted and is targeting a fourth. Hayward (Calif.) Tennyson's Taeshaun Lyons, On3's No. 28 receiver and No. 191 overall prospect in the country, picked up an offer from the Irish Aug. 9. Washington was considered the team to beat for him until Notre Dame joined the recruitment. Irish cornerback TaRiq Bracy is Lyons' cousin, which doesn't hurt maters. Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy's Sam- uel M'Pemba, the No. 11 edge and No. 94 overall recruit nationally per On3, is a defensive "athlete" who is probably in the "too good not to take" category, but it may not matter. The longtime Irish target is considered to be a heavy SEC lean. ✦ Notre Dame Is Putting The Finishing Touches On Its 2023 Class Notre Dame may be putting together its best recruiting class in a decade, but keeping a player like Denton (Texas) Guyer five-star safety Peyton Bowen is key to a strong finish. PHOTO COURTESY PEYTON BOWEN

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