Blue and Gold Illustrated

Preseason 2023

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

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36 PRESEASON 2023 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY MIKE SINGER I n looking back at the 2021 Notre Dame wide receiver class of Lo- renzo Styles, Deion Colzie and Jayden Thomas — that would have been the order many would have ex- pected the group's level of impact to be. Lorenzo Styles was a five-star pros- pect according to On3. Colzie was a con- sensus top-175 player nationally. And then there's Thomas, who was ranked as a three-star by 247 Sports and a lower- ranked four-star by ESPN and Rivals. Based on rankings and general per- ception among the fans and media alike, Thomas would have been the third best among the group and Styles the best. But after a couple seasons that didn't live up to the hype, Styles transferred to Ohio State to play cornerback, and Thomas very well may be the Irish's leading receiver this fall. What's the point of this context? It's certainly not to criticize Styles but to remind readers that there's an unpre- dictable nature to recruiting. Who would've thought that fresh- man Clarence Lewis would've beat out veteran TaRiq Bracy for a starting cor- nerback spot in 2020? Did anyone think that Joe Alt would go from being a high school tight end to becoming Notre Dame's starting left tackle as a freshman in the matter of 18 months? And what about Benjamin Morrison? It wasn't expected that he'd ascend from a cornerback down the depth chart in the first month of his Irish career to one of the best players nationally at his position by the end of the season. For this 2023 class, there does seem to be a handful of players who are ready- made to play as true freshmen. But what will end up actually happening? Only time will tell. READY FOR ACTION Notre Dame has a linebacker corps that consists of Marist Liufau at the Will position, JD Bertrand manning the Mike spot and Jack Kiser serv- ing as the rover. But even with that in mind, don't be surprised if freshmen Drayk Bowen and Jaiden Ausberry sneak into the rotation and/or be- come important special teams figures. A big part of being able to contribute as a fresh- man is being physi- cally ready to go, and Bowen has that in spades. And it should be worth men- tioning that the other linebacker the Irish signed in the 2023 class, Pres- ton Zinter, cer- tainly looks the part as well. Notre Dame is deep at the running back position with f ive ta l e n te d , scholarship players. And while freshman Jeremiyah Love may have been the No. 5 guy heading into fall camp, the former top-100 prospect from St. Louis looks ready to contribute, and it still wouldn't be much of a surprise to see him get regular carries. Another St. Louis native who may work his way into the cornerback ro- tation this fall is freshman Christian Gray. This cornerback room looks to FRESH FACES Notre Dame welcomed an eager crop of class of 2023 freshmen to campus and several could make an immediate impact Wide receiver Jaden Greathouse finished his prep career as Austin (Texas) Westlake's all- time leader in receptions (232), receiving yards (4,035) and touchdown grabs (53), and has been impressive since arriving in South Bend in January. PHOTO BY CHAD WEAVER

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