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Notre Dame Big Board: 2023 Offensive Commits

Breaking down and ranking the Notre Dame defensive commits on the board for the 2023 class

A staff overhaul on offense has put the Notre Dame offense behind its defense when it comes to putting the 2023 class together. Now that the staff is in place the Irish coaches are making moves on the offensive class. 

On this page you'll find my analysis, grade and ranking for each Notre Dame commit on offense.

NOTRE DAME COMMITS - OFFENSE (6)

1. WR Braylon James - 6-3, 185, Round Rock (Texas) Stony Point
2. OL Elijah Paige - 6-6, 300, Phoenix (Ariz.) Pinnacle
3. OL Sullivan Absher - 6-7, 285, Belmont (N.C.) South Point
4. TE Cooper Flanagan - 6-5, 240, Concord (Calif.) De La Salle
5. RB Jayden Limar - 5-11, 190, Lake Stevens (Wash.) High School
6. OL Sam Pendleton - 6-4, 305, Pfafftown (N.C.) Ronald Reagan
7. OL Joe Otting - 6-4, 270, Topeka (Kan.) Hayden

As more players are added they will be added to this page.

Analysis of each 2023 offensive commit:

1. BRAYLON JAMES, WIDE RECEIVER

Height/Weight: 6-3, 185

IB Grade: 4.0 (Top 100 caliber recruit)
Upside Grade: 5.0

Junior Highlights

Breaking down his game, the first thing that stands out is his length. He's listed at 6-3, but his arm length is impressive and he provides quarterbacks with a big target thanks to his wide catch radius. On top of having top-notch length, James also shows excellent focus and body control in the pass game, which helps project him into an elite contested catch player at the next level. James is still learning the finer points of the position, and at times that impacts his timing, but the tools are special as a pass catcher.

James has emerging speed, and as he's gotten older his speed has really taken off. This winter he ran an electronically timed 4.47 and also jumped 38.4 inches on the vertical and had a broad jump of 130.9 inches. Those are elite jumping numbers and show big-time explosiveness. That 4.47 is impressive enough, but with those jumping numbers you can expect James to get faster and faster as he physically matures.

That speed flashes on film for James, and that's a big reason he earned a 5.0-star upside grade from me. He's tall, he's long, he is really fast and he's a strong all-around athlete that also shows impressive foot quickness and loose hips.

The point is that he has all the tools to be a home run threat in college, and he has all the physical tools needed to develop into a strong route runner. James just need more coaching and he needs nuance in his game. He's a wide receivers coach's dream because he has so much potential, he just needs that talent to be harnessed. That's why Notre Dame made James such a huge priority in this class and why landing him is so impactful.

2. ELIJAH PAIGE, OFFENSIVE LINE

Height/Weight: 6-6, 300

IB Grade: 4.0 (Top 200 caliber prospect)
Upside Grade: 5.0

The first thing that stood out on film when watching Paige was his frame. He was a lean 280 pounds on film as a junior, but you could see excellent length, a broad frame and the potential to get to over 300 pounds in time. In the last six months Paige has apparently hit a growth spurt, because he is looking much bigger now than he did even in November, and it's very good weight.

Paige is now listed at 300 pounds, and he still has plenty of room to add good weight. When evaluating his film as a junior it seemed obvious he could get to 300 pounds, now it's looking like he has the frame to easily get to 310+ pounds and still be able to maintain his athleticism.

That is where Paige really shines, he's very athletic for a big man. You can see it in the pass game and run game. Paige shows top notch foot agility and lateral quickness, and those traits allow him to work the edge effective in the run game. He shows good balance and gets to the second level quickly. Paige also shows the ability to quick get around and into the hole on pulls, and he can quickly get to the opposite edge on traps.

His athleticism and length shines brightest in the pass game. Paige gets out of his stance with ease, he plays with great angles and his ability to plant and redirect efficiently makes him a hard player to beat in the pass game. His length allows him to get hands on edge rushers, which makes him even harder to beat around the edge, and it combines with his quickness to get to edge rushers even if he gets beat initially.

Paige didn't show elite strength on junior film and his punch is solid, but not elite. As he fills out and adds more weight room strength you'll see this take a job. He already has sound technique, but when the weight room strength catches up to that and his athleticism he'll become an even more effective run blocker, which is key in the Notre Dame offense.

3. SULLIVAN ABSHER, OFFENSIVE LINE

Height/Weight: 6-7, 285

IB Grade: 4.0 (Top 200 caliber recruit)
Upside Grade: 4.5

Junior Highlights

Absher is a very physical, punishing blocker who thrives in the trenches as a run blocker. Absher is one of the more punishing blockers in this class, and he seems to put great pride on burying defenders. At 6-6 to 6-7 with long arms and broad shoulders, Absher has plenty of length for the edge and projects as a power right tackle. 

Despite being so tall, Absher shows a unique ability to play with strong pad level. He plays in a triple option offense, and that has resulted in him learning to really keep his pads low and driving off the line with more of a flat back, which helps Absher come off the line with force as a run blocker. Combine that with Absher's natural strength and lower body power the end result is him being a dominant run blocker. Absher explodes off the ball and drives his feet through contact as well as any blocker in the country. He needs to keep filling out and adding lower body strength, and when that comes his ability to dominate the run game will translate well to the college game.

Athletically, Absher shows a strong burst off the line, but more importantly he shows the balance, agility and flexibility to move laterally and change direction. His ability to work to the second level is impressive and plays with an impressive understanding of angles, which partly comes from playing in an option offense.

We see very, very little of Absher as a pass blocker due to him playing in a triple option offense, so we don't get to see the whole tackle repertoire. There is some projection there as a tackle, but his combination of athletic talent, length and punch lead me to believe he can thrive on the edge. If not, what makes Absher such an important pickup is he grades out just as high as a future guard, especially considering his rare ability to play so low for such a taller player. Having a guy who projects as a starting caliber lineman for at least three spots is rare and very important.

4. COOPER FLANAGAN, TIGHT END

Height/Weight: 6-5, 240

IB Grade: 4.0 (Top 200 caliber recruit)
Upside Grade: 4.5

Junior Highlights

Flanagan is a bit of a throwback, or traditional tight end in that he's big, a strong run blocker and a guy who does more damage on the short to intermediate zones.

At 6-5 and 230 pounds he already has outstanding size for a tight end. He plays with good pad level in the run game, works his feet through contact and he shows good power for a young player. His initial punch is strong, but he needs to learn to strike more effectively off the ball. With more growth and technical improvement he has a chance to develop into a strong run blocker.

Flanagan isn't a vertical threat like many "modern" tight ends, but he comes off the line well and quickly get into the seams. The De La Salle standout is a quality route runner that shows a good feel for finding soft spots in the zone and he's sharp getting in and out of his cuts. He'll continue developing as a route runner and it will make him an even more effective pass game weapon.

His ball skills and hands are impressive, and Flanagan's size and length gives him a great catch radius. In the Notre Dame offense he'll first fit into the attached tight end spot, where he can thrive in the run game and in the middle of the field. He's a good enough route runner to do damage in the slot, but to become more impactful in that part of the game he'll need to gain a bit more burst, something that could certainly happen when you consider that Flanagan is still young and growing into his body.

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5. JAYDEN LIMAR, RUNNING BACK

Height/Weight: 5-11, 190

IB Grade: 4.0 (Top 250 caliber recruit)
Upside Grade: 4.5

Junior Highlights

At 5-11 and 190 pounds, Limar is a well-built running back with a strong lower body and a cut upper body. He has room to add a bit more weight, but he's already developed well for the position. Limar runs in a shotgun heavy offense and all the reads he'll need to make in college he makes to some degree at the prep level. He's a one-cut runner behind the line, and Limar shows good patience when he needs to and he can put his foot in the ground and explode vertically when he needs to.

Once he gets in space, Limar shows the suddenness, balance and agility to make defenders miss. This is an area where improved lower body strength will make him even more effective, as it will allow him to do even more damage after contact.

Limar shows an impressive initial burst on film, but his long speed looks similar to that of Kyren Williams. Clearly Williams had enough speed to make big plays, but Limar has posted some impressive times this offseason, so there's a chance we'll see him even faster in the fall. If Limar shows better long speed as a senior his grade will take a big jump.

What makes Limar an attractive player is his potential in the pass game. He's not only effective out of the backfield in traditional running back concepts, he has the ability to line up in the slow and do damage. Limar has good route running potential, he tracks the deep ball well, he shows good body control and he catches the ball like a receiver.

6. SAM PENDLETON, OFFENSIVE LINE

Height/Weight: 6-4, 305

IB Grade: 4.0 (Top 250 caliber recruit)
Upside Grade: 4.5

Junior Highlights

The first thing that stands out about Pendleton on film is his power. This is a young man with extremely powerful hands. In fact, he has as good of a punch as about any lineman in the country.

Pendleton shows good lower body strength and he explodes off the ball. Pendleton does a great job driving his feet and hips through contact. That adds to his power and makes him a punishing blocker at the prep level. Pendleton also projects well to the next level, especially as he cleans up a few technical issues that he has.

Pendleton shows good foot quickness for a bigger, power player but he's more of a short-area player, which is why he projects to move inside. The Reagan standout is a fundamentally sound football player that does a good job keeping his pads low and his hips square to the line.

Just where Pendleton ends up position wise remains to be seen. Right now Pendleton is projected as a guard, but his combination of strong hands, fast hands and quick feet also project very well to center.

7. JOE OTTING, OFFENSIVE LINE

Height/Weight: 6-4, 270

IB Grade: 3.5 (Top 350 caliber recruit)
Upside Grade: 4.5

Junior Highlights

What made Notre Dame push so hard for Otting is his unique combination of athleticism and pop. Otting is one of the quickest interior players in the country. He fires off the ball, keeps his pads low and he's incredibly effective in space. He'll need to clean up his technique on pulls and traps, but his quickness in both areas is impressive.

Otting shows very good punch for a player that weighs just 260 pounds. He has heavy hands and his movement power is most impressive. Otting does a good job getting extension with his hands. Otting shows the ability to drive and bury defenders, but it's against smaller players. It doesn't project yet, but if he adds more weight room strength and size you'll see his ability to play physical football take off.

Although he plays guard in high school, Otting projects extremely well to center thanks to those traits. He stays low coming off, he shows fast hands and that punch will allow him to snap and strike effectively. The center in the Notre Dame offense has to be good getting to the second level, and Otting certainly fits that mold. Other than size, which matters, he has all the tools needed to thrive at center.

Otting has a lower current grade (3.5-star) because of the questions about his size, but his upside (4.5) is quite high. He doesn't have the length that Joe Alt possessed, but he has very similar floor-to-ceiling projections.

UPSIDE RANKING

Here is how I rank each player from an upside standpoint:

1. Elijah Paige, OL - 5.0
2. Braylon James, WR - 5.0
3. Sullivan Absher, OL - 4.5
4. Joe Otting, OL - 4.5
5. Jayden Limar, RB - 4.5
6. Sam Pendleton, OL - 4.5
7. Cooper Flanagan, TE - 4.5

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Irish Breakdown Content

Notre Dame 2022 Roster
Notre Dame 2022 Schedule

Notre Dame 2023 Class Big Board
Notre Dame 2023 Commits Board - Offense
Notre Dame 2023 Commits Board - Defense

Notre Dame 2023 Scholarship Offers
Notre Dame 2024 Scholarship Offers

Ranking The 2022 Signees - Offense
Ranking The 2022 Signees - Defense

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