Blue and Gold Illustrated

April 2023

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

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BLUEGOLDONLINE.COM APRIL 2023 39 PREP PROFILES The 6-foot-5, 240-pound Benedict Umeh has quickly become one of the 2024 class' most coveted defensive line- men. The Avon (Conn.) Old Farms ju- nior reports 38 offers, including 29 from Power Five programs. Coaches from Notre Dame stopped by to see Umeh twice during the January re- cruiting contact period. Head coach Mar- cus Freeman and defensive line coach Al Washington made the first visit Jan. 18. And it could be the most important one, too. Thirty-four of Umeh's offers have come since his junior season. As a result, he's had no choice but to privately narrow down that offer sheet. And after the Irish offered the four-star recruit Dec. 19, they were on the outside looking in. "When I originally got offered by Notre Dame, I knew a lot about their football, but I didn't know about their academics," Umeh said. "That was originally why I wasn't interested in Notre Dame." Then, he met Freeman. "I learned more about them because they recruited the hell out of me after Marcus Freeman showed up in per- son," Umeh explained. "We just built this relationship. They're one of my top schools right now." In addition to Notre Dame, six other schools have caught his attention: Stanford, Georgia, Michigan, Texas and Florida. The heavyweight competition has led to a stronger recruiting approach from the Irish. Defensive coordinator Al Golden visited Umeh's school Jan. 25 and has arguably become the lead recruiter for the standout defensive lineman. According to Umeh, Golden texts him "every single day with- out fail." And the second-year Irish de- fensive coordinator's message is obvious. "It's usually something in the morn- ing and evening," Umeh said. "He'll be like, 'Hey, Benedict. Is any other coach in D-1 football hitting you up every sin- gle day like this?'" Umeh talks to Washington sporadi- cally and hasn't spoken to Freeman since January. However, he doesn't blame ND's coach for being preoccupied with bigger decisions over the last few weeks. A spring unofficial visit to Notre Dame is on the horizon, which could further cement his interest in the Irish. "The academics, first of all," he noted of his interest in the Irish. "It's always been my dream to attend a high-stand- ing academic school. "I wasn't big on sports before I got into football. So I was going to get into a school just for my grades. … I can't say no to a great academic school like Notre Dame." — Kyle Kelly Over the last few months, Notre Dame has mostly been in the shadows of Josiah Brown's recruitment. That was until the four-star athlete highlighted his interest in the Fighting Irish by in- cluding them in his top 10. In fairness, the 5-foot-11, 170-pound Brown visited Notre Dame July 26 and has only reported unofficial college re- cruiting visits to four other of his top schools. And his school, Hicksville (N.Y.) Holy Trinity Diocesan had week- end games during four of Notre Dame's six home games. Still, the Irish find themselves in the thick of a competitive recruitment. "It's definitely because of the aca- demic standpoint," Brown said. "The way the coaches are. They welcome me with open arms. [Head] coach [Mar- cus] Freeman is a great leader. Those are some reasons." Brown also included Duke, Georgia, Michigan, Miami (Fla.), Nebraska, Penn State, Rutgers, South Carolina and Syr- acuse in his top 10. He visited Rutgers Jan. 15, Penn State Jan. 21 and Georgia Jan. 28. The Bulldogs have picked up steam after head coach Kirby Smart visited his high school during last month's recruit- ing contact period. Notre Dame defensive coordina- tor Al Golden also stopped by Brown's high school Jan. 17. When the Irish of- fered Brown and about 65 other recruits March 17 during its "Pot of Gold" cam- paign, they prioritized him as a safety target. However, ND has recently targeted him as a wide receiver, and that's how his other top schools are recruiting him. "I just feel like I am a better receiver right now," Brown said. "I'm open to playing both sides of the ball. But my eyes are on receiver right now." As a result, Chansi Stuckey has taken over as Brown's primary recruiter. The second-year Irish wide receivers coach has been in frequent contact. "It's mainly just catching up," Brown said of his conversations with Stuckey. "Just talking about how each other's lives are going. Some updates. Things of that nature." A return visit to South Bend is neces- sary for Notre Dame to take the next step in his recruitment. "I definitely have to go back up there," Brown said. "It's something I want to do. I want to get a different look up there because I've only been there once." — Kyle Kelly Notre Dame In On Canadian Defensive Lineman Irish Are A Top Contender For New York Pass Catcher BENEDICT UMEH ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ Avon (Conn.) Old Farms School Toronto, Ontario Status: Offered Class: 2024 Position: Defensive Line Ht.: 6-5 • Wt.: 240 On3 Rankings: No. 1 player in Connecticut, and No. 4 defensive lineman and No. 24 overall recruit nationally JOSIAH BROWN ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ Holy Trinity Diocesan H.S. Hicksville, N.Y. Status: Offered Class: 2024 Position: Wide Receiver Ht.: 5-11 • Wt.: 170 On3 Rankings: No. 2 player in New York, and No. 14 athlete and No. 240 overall prospect nationally

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