Blue and Gold Illustrated

Sept. 10, 2022*

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

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Page 13 of 55

14 SEPT. 10, 2022 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED UNDER THE DOME CHARTING THE IRISH RAISING THE BAR ON THE RECRUITING TRAIL Marcus Freeman has been the toast of the town in South Bend since he was named head coach this past December. Even Notre Dame's heartbreaking 37-35 loss to Oklahoma State in the Fiesta Bowl in Free- man's first game in charge this past January did little to dampen the enthusiasm surrounding the program. Heading into the 2022 season, The Athletic identified Freeman as a headliner for its "College Sports 40 Under 40: Top young coaches, players, execs, influencers changing the game" list. "Cool is not usually an adjective associated with Notre Dame, one of the most storied programs in college football," the website noted. "But the 36-year-old Freeman has challenged that in his first eight months in charge …" One of the reasons for that excitement and tangible proof of Freeman's impact can be found on the recruiting trail. As of Sept. 2, the Fighting Irish ranked No. 4 and No. 2 nationally, respectively, in On3's 2023 and 2024 Consensus Football Team Recruiting Rankings. Perhaps more importantly, the Irish have made strides landing blue-chip prospects (four- and five-star recruits) since his arrival in January 2021. It stands to reason that the higher a team's percentage of four- and five-star prospects relative to the overall roster, the better its chance to win a national championship. Freeman wasn't around for the entirety of the class of 2022 recruiting cycle, but he hit the ground running and helped the Irish secure a 22-man class with a 77 percent blue-chip mark per the On3 Consensus, up from just 48 percent for the class of 2021. His current 23-man 2023 haul stands at 91 percent, and his six-man 2024 group is at 100 percent. In the 12 recruiting cycles from 2010-21 overseen by Brian Kelly, Notre Dame's blue-chip mark fell in the range of 48 and 59 percent nine times and eclipsed 70 percent just twice (87 in 2013 and 71 in 2019). — Steve Downey Paddy Burns — Soccer The junior defender from Northern Ireland scored his first goal of the season and the fourth of his career in a 3-2 win over Michigan State Aug. 29. It was the first win of the season for Notre Dame in its second game. Burns, a third-year starter, scored the first goal of the game to help the Irish build a 3-0 lead be- fore holding off the Spartans' comeback attempt. Eva Gaetino — Soccer The junior midfielder from Dexter, Mich., was one of 61 players to the named preseason watch list for the 2022 Hermann Tro- phy, which goes annually to the top NCAA women's soccer player, by the United Soccer Coaches. Gaetino was part of an Irish defensive unit last season that posted a 0.963 goals against average. Offensively, she also scored on a memo- rable diving header that lifted the Irish to a 2-1 overtime win over Clemson. Phyona Schrader — Volleyball In a 3-2 win over Milwaukee Aug. 28, the Irish sophomore setter from An- keny, Iowa, became the first Irish player to record a triple- double since Rebecca Nunge did it in 2016. Schrader tallied 11 kills, 13 digs and 33 assists in what ended up being the first win for first-year Notre Dame head coach Salima Rockwell. After two straight losses to start this season, Shrader's effort was key to the first Irish victory. TOP TOP OF THE CLASS OF THE CLASS Irish student-athletes excelling on the field and in the classroom ✦ GIMME FIVE Chances are that even if you are not a video game fan you have heard of Madden NFL. Since it was launched by EA Sports in 1988 — with Pro Football Hall of Fame head coach and commentator John Madden lending his endorsement and expertise, famously insisting that the game be as realistic as possible — it has been wildly popular among football fans and gamers alike. Madden NFL has generated more than $4 billion in revenue since its inception and has sold more than 130 million copies, according to EA. Barron's estimates that Madden NFL currently generates around $600 million annually for EA. Each year, both players and fans eagerly anticipate the annual ratings release for the newest version of the game. EA started disseminating the player ratings for Madden NFL 23 in late July in advance of the game's mid-August release. The Madden team studies game film, analyzes statistics, peruses scouting reports and even reviews NFL Scouting Combine performances in an effort to accurately score players on dozens of attributes, ultimately coming up with an overall rating on the 0-to-99 scale. All-Pro offensive guard Zack Martin of the Dallas Cowboys led the way for Notre Dame alumni, check- ing in with an impressive 98 rating. He just missed out on the prestigious "99 Club," which is reserved for only the best players in the league. This year it consisted of the quartet of Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald, Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Davante Adams, Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett and San Francisco 49ers left tackle Trent Williams. Martin was No. 1 among offensive guards, second among all offensive linemen and tied for fifth overall (along with Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp, Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey and Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce). Here are the top five former Fighting Irish players, according to their Madden NFL 23 ratings: Rk. Player, Pos., NFL Team Rating 1. Zack Martin, OG, Dallas Cowboys 98 2. Quenton Nelson, OG, Indianapolis Colts 95 3. Harrison Smith, S, Minnesota Vikings 90 Ronnie Stanley, OT, Baltimore Ravens 90 5. Mike McGlinchey, OT, San Francisco 49ers 79 NOTRE DAME'S BLUE CHIP PERCENTAGE FROM 2010-24 PER THE ON3 CONSENSUS RANKINGS 100 90 80 70 60 50 40 30 2024 — 100% 2023 — 91% 2022 — 77% 2021 — 48% 2020 — 59% 2019 — 71% 2018 — 48% 2017 — 55% 2016 — 52% 2015 — 65% 2014 — 55% 2013 — 87% 2012 — 59% 2011 — 57% 2010 — 57%

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