Notre Dame hosts its second major recruiting weekend of the June period, and just like last weekend there are a lot of very talented 2022 prospects on campus. Notre Dame will have at least four commits on campus and nine uncommitted prospects.
Here’s a look at this weekend’s visitors.
IRISH COMMITS WILL DO THEIR OWN RECRUITING
Notre Dame quarterback commit Steve Angeli has been a strong recruiter ever since he committed to the Irish back in March. He’ll be on campus with talented tight end commits Holden Staes and Eli Raridon.
That trio will be able to do a lot of selling to the offensive recruits, and there are six offensive recruits on campus this weekend.
Defensively, you can expect at least one committed player to be on campus for an unofficial visit, and that list could grow to two. I expect linebacker commit Nolan Ziegler to be on campus this weekend for an unofficial visit, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if Josh Burnham is back on campus again this weekend, just like he was last weekend.
GAP CLOSERS ARRIVING ON DEFENSE
Notre Dame only has three defensive players on campus this weekend, but of them are among the very best players in the entire country, and they are certainly gap closer recruits.
Pleasant Hill (Iowa) Southeast Polk standout safety Xavier Nwankpa will be on campus this weekend for his official visit, and a case could be made that he’s one of the five most important recruits to be on campus the entire month. Notre Dame needs to upgrade the safety position in a major way, especially with Kyle Hamilton likely in his final season in South Bend. Nwankpa has the talent to continue the safety tradition started by Harrison Smith and carried on by Hamilton.
Ohio State has been considered Nwankpa’s leader for quite some time, and the Buckeyes are still in a very strong position. Notre Dame has hung around for awhile, and now the Irish get their chance to make a strong impression. The Irish coaches are going to put the full court press on Nwankpa in an attempt to show him how safeties can thrive in the Marcus Freeman defense.
If Notre Dame can knock it out the park this weekend I believe that Nwankpa has enough interest in the Irish program, and what makes Notre Dame unique, that they could be a legitimate player when he goes into decision-making mode.
Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman edge defender Cyrus Moss is also one of the most talented prospects on the board, regardless of position. Notre Dame’s defensive end class is already the strength of the class, but Moss grades out higher than all three of the talented commits, and he’s even more versatile.
Moss - the nation’s No. 26 overall prospect according to 247Sports - likes Oregon quite a bit and Clemson is a team to watch, but he’s always liked Notre Dame as well. What works against Notre Dame right now is the fact it does already have three ends in the class. What Notre Dame’s staff can counter with is the fact the last time the Irish signed four defensive ends (2016 class) all four eventually got drafted in the fifth round or higher.
The Bishop Gorman star is a great fit for Notre Dame on and off the field, and the staff will have a chance to show him just that this weekend. If they can impress him as much as they did the prospects on campus the previous the Irish could become a major factor for Moss when he gets into decision-making mode.
The fact of the matter is this, if Notre Dame is going to close the gap on programs like Alabama, Clemson and Ohio State these two defenders are the type of prospects that Notre Dame must land.
OFFENSIVE LINE CLASS WILL BE WELL REPRESENTED
Notre Dame still has at least two open spots in the class along the offensive line, and there are three targets expected on campus this weekend.
Hammond (Wis.) St. Croix Central guard Carson Hinzman is one of the top targets on the board for Notre Dame. Line coach Jeff Quinn has been recruiting Hinzman since he was a freshman, and it’s been awhile since he has been on Notre Dame’s campus. Notre Dame is a major player for Hinzman, but this weekend will have a big role in whether or not the irish can close the deal.
Notre Dame desperately needs to add depth to the center position and Hinzman projects extremely well to that position. A guard in high school, Hinzman has all the tools you want in a center. He has some length and size but clearly isn’t too big for the center position. Notre Dame needs an athletic player at center that can get to the second level, and that certainly fits Hinzman.
Wisconsin and Iowa have been players for Hinzman for some time, and Ohio State has recently gotten into the mix. He’s also likely going to head to Tuscaloosa soon to visit Alabama. Notre Dame must close on Hinzman, who is an athletic, powerful and talented interior blocker that ranks as the No. 88 overall player in the country according to Rivals.
For much of the last six months I felt Notre Dame was in great position to land Hinzman, but other programs have closed the gap. Now it’s up to Quinn and company to get things back on track with Hinzman and start to separate themselves.
Whitefish Bay (Wis.) High School tackle Joe Brunner arrives this weekend as well as part of a three-man group of Wisconsin lineman that will visit Notre Dame this summer. He and Hinzman are visiting the same weekend and Billy Schrauth was on campus last weekend.
Brunner ranks as the nation’s No. 35 overall player according to ESPN and No. 63 to Rivals. A consensus Top 100 recruit, Brunner has outstanding size (6-6, 305) and he’s one of the most fundamentally sound offensive linemen in the country. He’s being recruited as a tackle, but Brunner isn’t the most athletic lineman on the board and he might be better suited inside, much like former Irish starter Tommy Kraemer, who started off at right tackle before moving inside to guard.
Wisconsin and Ohio State are also in the mix for Brunner, who could be hard to get out of the Badger state. I would put Notre Dame third on his list right now, but a strong weekend could vault the Irish up his list.
Notre Dame is also set to host Huber Heights (Ohio) Wayne offensive tackle Aamil Wagner. A long but undersized blocker, Wagner has a lot of upside, but he’ll need time to develop. He’s worth taking a chance on because of his athleticism and natural power. Notre Dame will get its shot this weekend but the in-state Buckeyes are going to be very, very hard to beat.
ANOTHER MEMBER OF THE “BIG THREE” SET TO ARRIVE
Notre Dame has a “big three” group of running backs on the board that includes Dallan Hayden, Nicholas Singleton and Gavin Sawchuk. Hayden was on campus last weekend and now the Irish coaching staff gets its shot with Singleton.
Ranked as the nation’s No. 43 overall player by 247Sports, Singleton has a unique combination of size (6-0, 210) and speed. He plays in an option offense for Reading (Pa.) Governor Mifflin, so there will be some technical adjustments for Singleton, but his talent jumps off the screen when breaking down his film.
Notre Dame was in a strong position with Singleton early in the recruiting process and a case could be made that prior to the pandemic shutting down visits the Irish were in fact his leader. Since then Penn State, Ohio State and Alabama all made a hard push for Singleton. Alabama and Ohio State are now out of the running and its more of a Notre Dame-Penn State battle.
Right now the Nittany Lions are in the best position, especially after his recent visit to Happy Valley. Notre Dame now gets its shot at Singleton, and they’ll need to hit a home run to get back in position to eventually overcome Penn State, but it’s possible.
WIDE RECEIVER CLASS COULD GET INTERESTING
Wide receiver recruiting has been puzzling for Notre Dame, but things should start coming into view over the next couple of weeks. One thing that isn’t a question is who is the number one player on the board, and that would be Vancouver (Wash.) Union star Tobias Merriweather, who was on campus last weekend.
The staff is working hard to add Merriweather to the class with current commit Amorion Walker. Notre Dame is also pushing hard for CJ Williams, who visits next weekend, but who would the Irish take next, and where do other prospects stand on the board.
We’ll start to find that out this weekend. Notre Dame hosts Katy (Texas) High School wideout Nicholas Anderson this weekend. Analysts at 247Sports have been projecting Anderson to Notre Dame for some time, but I’m still curious about just where Anderson ranks on the board for Notre Dame.
If everything said about him and Notre Dame is accurate we could see Anderson be a prospect to jump on board very soon, but a strong visit this weekend will be the key to that, assuming the Irish staff will even push for him to jump on board this early.
Anderson is a long (6-4) and smooth athlete that shows an advanced feel for route runner. His ball skills standout as well, but Anderson lacks the explosiveness of other top wideouts and other wideouts on the board for Notre Dame (see Xayvion Bradshaw, Merriweather). We should find out very soon if Anderson is a must-get for the Irish staff that ranks as one of the top three prospects on the receiver board, or if the staff is willing to be more patient and push for higher-ceiling prospects.
Notre Dame hosted wideout Elic Ayomanor on June 6th for its Irish Invasion, and the Canadian impressed the Irish staff so much that he earned an offer before leaving campus. The staff was able to convince him to come back just two weeks later for an official visit. Ayomanor has very good size (6-3, 205) and good vertical speed. He’s very similar to the type of wideout Notre Dame has recruited a lot over the years.
Like Anderson, we should find out very soon if the staff plans to push for him to join the class now or if this visit is about the staff positioning themselves to have good prospects on the board to turn to should they miss out on other top prospects.
BELLAMY GETS HIS CHANCE TO SEE NOTRE DAME
Oradell (N.J.) Bergen Catholic defensive back Jayden Bellamy is a unique prospect that has been on Notre Dame’s radar for some time. A teammate of Angeli, Bellamy is part of a talented high school secondary for the Crusaders.
Notre Dame likes Bellamy and has been pushing for him, but just what position he’ll ultimately play in college remains to be seen. Bellamy has very good speed and he can hit, but he plays more like a safety in a cornerbacks body. I’m of the opinion that safety is his best position, and my sources indicate that Notre Dame has talked to him about playing both cornerback and safety at the next level.
He’s a bit more raw than other players on the secondary board, but Bellamy has speed and very intriguing tools. He’s a consensus three-star recruit but his top schools right now are Notre Dame, Penn State, Ohio State, Clemson and Oklahoma. Clearly his offer list is far more impressive than his rankings, and his speed and upside are big reasons for that.
Penn State recently hosted Bellamy and the Nittany Lions could be tough to beat, but the Irish staff will get their chance this weekend. Being on campus at the same time as his high school teammate (Angeli) certainly won’t hurt Notre Dame’s chances.
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