When Notre Dame head coach Marcus Freeman took over as defensive coordinator last off-season, he spoke deeply about widening the scope for what student athletes could fit in within the program's standards. For a lot of athletes, the fit is seamless. Cambridge (Mass.) Buckingham Browne & Nichols School 2023 athlete Ronan Hanafin has epitomized those standards for a long time, including his love for the program from a young age.
“I have been a Notre Dame fan since I was young,” Hanafin said. “It is a top-tier university in every respect. I value Notre Dame’s Catholic tradition and it has top-rate academics and athletics. It’s a place that can set you up for your future.”
From a purely on field perspective, Hanafin could stake claim as one of the more interesting and underrated Notre Dame targets in the 2023 recruiting cycle. His recruiting ranking is all over the place, peaking as the No. 218 (No. 32 wide receiver) nationally according to Rivals. 247Sports also has him rated, coming in as an unranked three star. ESPN and On3 have yet to take the time to even rank him.
That type of variance drastically undersells the quality of football player Hanafin is, validated by an impressive offer list that continues to grow exponentially, including the likes of Notre Dame, Michigan, Penn State, Tennessee, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Maryland, Boston College, West Virginia and many more.
Blessed with an extremely projectable 6-3, 205-pound frame, Hanafin is listed as a wide receiver recruit by every major recruiting platform. Notre Dame, however, has left the option open positionally.
The coaches continue to sell Hanafin on their interest for what the talented athlete can bring on the field - but also, strive to show him the vision for this new era. The most recent attempt to make that point was when Freeman stopped by Buckingham, Brown & Nichols School last week.
“I first met Coach Freeman briefly when we were on campus for the Navy game a few months ago, before he took over as a head coach,” Hanafin explained. “He definitely made a great first impression. Having him come to (Buckingham Brown & Nichols School) and getting to sit and talk with him was awesome.”
Hanafin continued on the allure of Freeman’s leadership, including his effort to make Hanafin a priority for the cycle. Like players already in the program, it’s hard for Hanafin not to buy in completely.
“I can see why his players really love him,” said Hanafin. “He's very smart, personable, and passionate about football and Notre Dame. It's nice to know he thought it was important enough to come to visit me here, that means a lot.”
The talented junior also enjoyed his time on campus, so much so he plans on returning in the very near future. Hanafin did his best to quantify just how special of a place South Bend is.
“My first time visiting Notre Dame was for the Navy game. I came with my family and the game day experience was incredible,” Hanafin explained. “There's so much history and tradition to take in and I'm glad I got to experience it.
“I will be back on campus next weekend for junior day and I'm really looking forward to seeing the coaches and learning more about the program."
Although it remains a question what position Hanafin makes his biggest impact on at the next level, he is very confident that his talent will show itself early. He could provide a nice boost to a really strong 2023 class.
“I know I could bring a lot to this already special Notre Dame recruiting class. I see myself as an impact player ready to compete.”
It’s safe to say that Notre Dame is in a great place with Hanafin. Although it seems like an easy fit, the talented playmaker does plan on doing his due diligence with the process.
“I will try to get to as many schools as I can so I can make an informed, long game decision,” he explained. “The face-to-face interaction with coaches along with being on campus adds value in the decision making process. I feel very blessed to have a number of opportunities.”
Luckily for Hanafin, he has a lot of great people in his corner to help make a sound decision.
“I've met a lot of great people, been building strong relationships, and I’ve gotten a lot of solid advice so far from my parents and my high school coach, Coach Willey. There is a lot to consider and I am very grateful.”
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