Blue and Gold Illustrated

January 2024

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

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42 JANUARY 2024 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY MIKE SINGER Notre Dame's hot streak in the 2025 class continued Dec. 1, when Winter Garden (Fla.) West Orange safety Ivan Taylor publicly announced his verbal commitment to the Fighting Irish. The four-star prospect visited South Bend four times — twice over the sum- mer and twice for fall game-day trips — and picked the Fighting Irish over offers from Alabama, Florida, Florida State, Michigan, USC and many others. "My religion is Catholic, so that's per- fect here," Taylor told Blue & Gold Illus- trated about picking Notre Dame. "I love the coaches here. And the academics is one of the main reasons as well. If some- thing were to go wrong on the field, I know that Notre Dame carries a huge name. You can make great money from getting a de- gree here. The off-field benefits are great." While Taylor waited until the first day of December to make his college decision known, he actually committed to the staff privately Oct. 28, which is the day the Irish beat up on Pittsburgh. It was also a day that Taylor was on campus. "There was a lot of prayer that went into it," Taylor said. "I felt that it was the right time to tell [the Notre Dame coaches] in person. I'm super excited about it. I can't wait for the next few years there." The first Irish staffer that learned about Taylor's commitment was direc- tor of recruiting Chad Bowden, who kept the secret so that the first time head coach Marcus Freeman heard about it, it came from Taylor. Taylor and his parents met with Free- man before the game to deliver the news, and then they also informed safe- ties coach Chris O'Leary. "I told [Freeman] that I wanted to commit, and the love and excitement I got from Coach Freeman, Coach O'Leary and Chad — I was smiling so much that my face was hurting," he said. "It was a great mo- ment and experience. When I get up here, I know what I have to do. I'm going to lock in. "They were pumped. They might have been even more excited than I was! I can't wait to come here and get to work." His mother, Danielle, and his father, Ike, certainly signed off on his decision, too. "My parents knew I was going to make the right decision because they have trust in me, and I have trust in them," Taylor said. "Of course, I wanted to know how they felt about Notre Dame, and they felt great about it." Taylor has a mes- sage for Notre Dame fans about what their favorite program is getting in him. "I'm going to work very hard," he said. "I put a lot of time in. Someone could be better or more athletic than me, but I'm going to outwork them." Taylor is rated as a four-star talent, the No. 25 player in Florida, and the No. 15 safety and No. 172 overall prospect in the country by On3. He became Notre Dame's 10th commitment in the 2025 class and second defensive back, join- ing Phoenix Brophy Prep's Cree Thomas, who committed to the Irish in November. During his 10-game junior season, Taylor totaled 50 tackles (6 for loss), 1 interception and 3 forced fumbles. He's recorded 135 tackles and 5 interceptions during his high school career. He is the son of former Pittsburgh Steelers defensive back Ike Taylor. The elder Taylor played in the NFL from 2003-14 and is a two-time Super Bowl champion. ✦ Irish Add Commitment From NFL Legacy Defensive Back COMMITMENT PROFILE IVAN TAYLOR FILM ANALYSIS "Ivan Taylor is a good looking defensive back prospect standing in right at 5-11, 163 pounds with solid length. He tested very well during the spring camp circuit prior to his junior season and is a fluid and smooth mover with some explosiveness. His best trait is his ability to stay in phase and sniff out the football. When working as a corner, he has such great hip looseness that he can sink and flip his hips with little to no wasted movement. This allows him to constantly turn and move with receivers in and out of their breaks. "As a deep safety, his instincts and field vision allow him to break to the football and trigger efficiently. His long speed and burst allow him to close on the football in a hurry in order to make plays at the catch point. He's asked to play as a safety and corner in high school, and I honestly believe he could play either at the next level. "Taylor has the willingness to come downhill and tackle, as well as the range and instincts for safety, while also having the athletic traits and coverage ability to excel at corner. No matter how you slice it, Taylor is going to be a strong, versatile weapon for a defensive coordinator at the next level." — On3 scouting and rankings assistant Cody Bellaire Taylor, the son of former Pittsburgh Steelers defensive back and two-time Super Bowl champion Ike Taylor, is rated as the No. 15 safety and No. 172 overall prospect in the nation by On3. PHOTO BY CHAD WEAVER "I love the coaches here. And the academics is one of the main reasons as well." TAYLOR ON NOTRE DAME

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