Blue and Gold Illustrated

Preseason 2023

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

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FOOTBALL RECRUITING BLUEGOLDONLINE.COM PRESEASON 2023 49 nessee. At the end of July, the elite passer visited South Bend. "It was a great trip," he said. "They always make us feel loved when we go up there. It was good talking to Coach [Marcus] Freeman and Coach Gino [Guidugli]. "The photo shoot they had me do was crazy. Watching practice was good. Ev- erything we did [during the visit] was good." The staff's main pitch to Knight was about what Notre Dame can do for the rest of his life, not just his football ca- reer. "It was about how coming to Notre Dame gives you things that many schools can't offer. Everyone can sell 'I'm going to develop you and make you a first-round pick' but if you go to Notre Dame, you're thinking big," said Knight, paraphrasing what the staff presented to him. "You're thinking about 50 years from now. You're thinking about your future kids. You can be successful just graduating from there. "You'll make connections there and people think highly of you if you gradu- ate from there." Notre Dame hopes to host Knight for a visit for one of the Ohio State or USC contests this fall (or, in a perfect world, both). He may commit to a program this fall, which would seem to bode well for the Irish. "I think I am getting closer to a deci- sion," Knight said. "I know for sure I want to watch a couple college games before I make a decision — probably like two or three." The other quarterback target of note is a more recent offer. On July 18, Mur- rieta (Calif.) Valley's Bear Bachmeier, the nation's No. 9 signal-caller and No. 102 overall player per On3, an- nounced that he added the Irish to his offer sheet that includes Alabama, Or- egon, Stanford and others. Bachmeier has only taken three col- lege visits so far, and it's to the three schools not named Notre Dame. With that in mind, it's safe to say that it's early in Bachmeier's recruiting process. He is looking to visit Notre Dame in September. "It was a little bit of a surprise," Bach- meier told Blue & Gold Illustrated re- garding the offer. "I called Coach Gui- dugli, and we were talking about a plan for me to get up there. He went ahead and pulled the trigger. It was a surprise, but it was awesome. "The conversation was great. Coach Guidugli said it was time to offer. We've been talking a bunch, and when he pulled the trigger it was awesome." NOTRE DAME'S 'GRILL AND CHILL' EVENT WAS A SUCCESS On July 30, Notre Dame held one of its biggest recruiting events of the year. It's an annual visit day the staff has held at the end of the July since Freeman came to Notre Dame in 2021. It's mainly geared towards the rising junior class — which is the 2025 cycle this year — and is a unique experience for the prospects. The 30 or so recruits on campus took part in the "Irish Olympics" organized by the recruiting staff. "Water balloon toss, home run derby, we grilled, played cornhole, Irish Ball, dodgeball — we did everything," Win- ter Garden (Fla.) West Orange safety Ivan Taylor said. "It was competitive and fun." Yes, you read that correctly. One of the activities was the recruits grilling food. "A whole steak," Taylor added. "That was the first time doing that in my life. That took me by surprise." Taylor, who is the son of former NFL defensive back Ike Taylor, is listed as the No. 12 safety and No. 134 overall prospect in America by On3. He is a top target for the Irish in the 2025 cycle and loved his time on campus. "It was a great visit," he said. "The coaches can't get any better. I'll defi- nitely come back. Coach [Chris] O'Leary and Coach [Marcus] Freeman are just good people to be around. They want to get me better and see something that I don't think a lot of coaches see in me. "They like the way I work, and I know I'll be back up there." Tampa (Fla.) Jesuit's Justin Thurman, On3's No. 27 running back nationally, committed to the Irish staff while on campus. Among the other notable class of 2025 players that visited July 30 were Geneva (Ill.) Community's Talyn Taylor (No. 12 wide receiver and No. 63 overall pros- pect per On3), Waukesha (Wis.) Cath- olic Memorial's Owen Strebig (No. 5 offensive tackle and No. 40 overall), Chicago Simeon's Chris Burgess (No. 10 edge and No. 114 overall), Indianapolis Ben Davis' Mark Zackery (No. 17 cor- nerback and No 202 overall), Winston- Salem (N.C.) Mount Tabor's JaDon Blair (No. 2 safety and No. 26 overall) and Green Bay (Wis.) Notre Dame de la Baie Academy's James Flanigan (No. 9 tight end No. 229 overall). ✦ Winter Garden (Fla.) West Orange product Ivan Taylor — the No. 12 safety and No. 134 overall player in the nation per On3 — was one of about 30 rising juniors that attended Notre Dame's "grill and chill" event at the end of July. PHOTO BY CHAD WEAVER

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