Notre Dame suffered its first de-commitment of the 2022 class when Milton (Ga.) High School tight end Jack Nickel decided to reopen his recruitment.
Despite Nickel's de-commitment, Notre Dame is actually in pretty good shape right now when it comes to recruiting the tight end position. That includes the staff's desire to add two tight ends in the 2022 class.
IRISH IN GREAT SHAPE WITH HOLDEN STAES
Even before Nickel de-committed the Irish had put themselves in great shape with Atlanta (Ga.) Westminster tight end Holden Staes. The 6-4, 230-pound tight end is still a bit of a work in progress as a player, but his raw talent and upside is extremely high. He's exactly the kind of high-ceiling prospect Notre Dame needs to be targeting at this position.
Staes was previously committed to Penn State but opened things up in early February. The Atlanta native has an impressive offer list that includes Notre Dame, Alabama, Ohio State, LSU, Georgia, USC, Texas, Oregon, Florida State and Michigan among many, many others.
Notre Dame offered just days after he de-committed from the Nittany Lions and they immediately jumped up near the top of his list. Over the next several weeks the Irish staff quickly rose to the top of that list, and now Notre Dame is the clear leader for the talented tight end.
Staes earned a 4.0-grade and a Top 200 ranking on the Irish Breakdown board, but do not be surprised to see him jump into the Top 100 range if he continues to make the strides I expect over the next several months heading into his senior season.
Landing Staes would be a big pickup for Notre Dame.
NOTRE DAME ALSO LOOKING AT LEGACY RECRUIT
Notre Dame is also making a play for West Des Moines (Iowa) Valley tight end Eli Raridon, whose father Scott played for the Irish and was part of the same recruiting class that added Maurice Stovall, Anthony Fasano, Rhema McKnight, Derek Landri, Chris Frome and Dan Santucci.
At 6-6 and 220 pounds, Raridon is on the thin side right now, but he has an impressive frame, which is expected from a young man whose father was 6-7 and over 300 pounds during his playing days.
Raridon is an athletic player that can line up in the slot and on the outside just as effectively as he can line up as an attached tight end in the pass game. Raridon needs to add to his frame and add more weight room strength, but he's a highly effectively blocker and a high effort player in the run game.
A consensus three-star recruit according to the services, Raridon has an extremely high ceiling and a great deal of natural ability. His combination of speed, athleticism, ball skills, instincts toughness and size potential makes him a must-get for Notre Dame in this class.
Notre Dame and Iowa are arguably the two best programs in the country when it comes to producing elite tight ends over the last decade, so the fact both the Irish and Hawkeyes are making a hard, hard push for Raridon should tell you everything you need to know about his upside.
The Irish should be getting a visit from Raridon somewhat soon, and if the staff keeps pushing for him they'll have a very good shot to add him into the class.
Staes and Raridon are both dual threat players at tight end, but their top strengths aren't necessarily the same. They are strong complements to each other, so adding both to the class would give Notre Dame a pair of players that can play together, which is important for an offense that likes to use multiple tight ends as much as the Irish have in recent seasons.
There is still work to be done, but Notre Dame has positioned itself to once again land a strong, high-upside two-tight end class.
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