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

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54 PRESEASON 2022 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY MIKE SINGER Cincinnati Lakota West class of 2023 safety Ben Minich didn't waste much time committing to Notre Dame. He picked up an offer from the Fighting Irish July 20 and visited campus exactly a week later. Then on July 28, he called head coach Marcus Freeman about his decision to commit to Notre Dame. "It's the perfect spot for me," Minich told Blue & Gold Illustrated. "It's not too far from home but not too close. It has great academics along with elite football. "Notre Dame gives me the best chance to go to the NFL and keep living out my dreams. It all aligned perfectly. Notre Dame has a great coaching staff full of great people. It was a no-brainer." Fighting Irish head coach Marcus Freeman, safeties coach Chris O'Leary, defensive coordinator Al Golden and di- rector of recruiting Chad Bowden were among the coaches who led the way in recruiting Minich. Gone are the days when just one Notre Dame coach is re- cruiting a player. It's a full-team effort. Minich, who plans to enroll early at No t re Da m e , h a d high praise in par- ticular for O'Leary, who will be his po- sition coach at the next level. "He's fun to be around," the pros- p e c t e x p l a i n e d . "He's not someone who you're like, 'Ugh, I have to go meet with Coach O'Leary today.' He's upbeat and always has a lot of energy. "He's worked with Jeremiah Owusu- Koramoah and Kyle Hamilton; he can develop you." Minich, 5-11 ½, 185 pounds, first heard from the Irish at the start of the summer. "Coach Bowden contacted my high school coach and asked about me and the person I am," Minich recalled. "He told me that they wanted to get me up there to see me in action at a camp. That was our first encounter." Minich spoke occasionally with the staff between the initial contact, and again when he saw South Bend for the first time and participated in a prospect camp June 21. All eyes were on Minich that day — the coaches got a clear eval- uation on him. "I got to work with Coach O'Leary individually, and I did all of the one-on- one reps," Minich added. "They were making sure I was going against the other top receiv- ers there so that I was getting the best c o m p e t i t i o n . A f- ter the testing, they told me I put up good numbers and said to have fun the rest of the camp." Notre Dame didn't offer Minich dur- ing the camp; that wouldn't come until a few weeks later. But between the time of the camp and the offer, communica- tion ramped up between the two parties. Minich spoke often with Bowden, Free- man, Golden and O'Leary. "We were in constant contact," Minich said. "They hadn't offered yet, but they showed a lot of interest, and we built our relationship. We talked about more than just Notre Dame football. I got to learn about what kind of people they are." Minich picked up the offer July 20 and was on campus for an unofficial visit a week later. "I wanted to get a bit more in depth, and going back there, my intentions were that if it was what I expected, then I'd be committing in the next day or two," he said. "I wanted to check all the boxes." And that's exactly what happened. The boxes were checked, and the day after his visit, Minich gave Freeman a phone call. "He wasn't there on my visit, but we had been talking for a while and built a connection already," Minich explained. "I got to sit down with him after my camp visit, too. When I called, he asked how my visit was, and I told him, 'It was everything I expected and more, and I'm ready to commit.'" The Notre Dame coaches believe Minich can excel in multiple roles in Golden's defense. "They see me playing either safety spot and also being a nickel/dime guy," he said. "I'm versatile with my speed and tackling ability." During Minich's junior season, he posted 45 tackles and 2 interceptions — returning one for a 76-yard touchdown — in helping lead Lakota West to an 11-2 record. Offensively, he caught 16 passes for 250 yards and 5 scores. On3 lists Minich as a three-star re- cruit, the No. 13 prospect in Ohio and the No. 33 safety nationally. ✦ FILM ANALYSIS "He has a pretty well-rounded skill set as a safety. He's a very good athlete with solid size. Minich's speed is certainly very good as a safety prospect. He more than checks the box from an athletic perspective. And we see his athleticism on the field as well; he's a two-way player, which has a high incidence with help- ing safeties with ball skills. Playing receiver is a good sign there. "When you watch him on defense, you see him cover in the slot a lot, which is another facet that's important for safeties nowadays. You see a lot of personnel packages where a safety might have to play as a nickel and defend a lot of the horizontal, quick game and horizontal runs. And that is an area where Minich excels as a defender. The athleticism projects well, and he closes well. He looks to be a solid tackler and has physicality about him. That all projects well." — On3 director of scouting and rankings Charles Power COMMITMENT PROFILE BEN MINICH Ohio Safety Finds The 'Perfect Spot' At Notre Dame Minich, a three-star player and the No. 33 safety nationally according to On3, picked the Irish over Oklahoma and Stanford. PHOTO COURTESY ON3.COM "Notre Dame gives me the best chance to go to the NFL and keep living out my dreams. It all aligned perfectly. Notre Dame has a great coaching staff full of great people. It was a no-brainer." MINICH

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