What's Next: Shifting To The 2022 O-Line Group Is Key For Notre Dame
Notre Dame needs to continue trying to land 2021 standout tackle Nolan Rucci, and it would be wise for the staff to try and flip ultra-talented West Virginia commit Wyatt Milum. But the reality is Notre Dame is likely done with its quality four-man haul in the 2021 class that now includes Top 100 blockers Rocco Spindler and Blake Fisher, high-upside tackle Joe Alt and Pat Coogan.
The Irish are off to a strong start in the 2022 line class, which needs to be even better than the 2021 haul. Notre Dame landed in-state standout Joey Tanona, and now it needs to add at least three more top-level players to the class.
There are a number of talented blockers with offers, and just like this time a year ago, there’s a great opportunity in front of the staff to put together an elite group of blockers. Tanona was a great start, but more are needed. To begin diving into the 2022 line class, let’s take a look at the top early targets on the board.
Billy Schrauth, G, 6-5, 285, Fond Du Lac (Wis.) St. Marys Spring
One of the players at the very top of the board is Schrauth, and Notre Dame has put itself in excellent position to ultimately add him to the class. Schrauth is quite similar to Spindler in that he's a dominant prep guard, but he's also a standout defensive tackle. His combination of size, toughness and quickness makes him one of the nation's best interior player.
Schrauth is ranked as the No. 176 player in the country on the 247Sports composite list and he's a consensus four-star recruit. Schrauth comes from a family that are Notre Dame fans and that is certainly aided the Fighting Irish cause in his recruitment. I would not be surprised if he ended up as the next player to commit in the 2022 class, but programs like Wisconsin, Ohio State and Michigan aren't giving up.
Jacob Allen, OT, 6-5, 270, Princeton (N.J.) The Hun School
Allen is one of the top overall offensive line prospect in the 2022 class. He is ranked No. 82 overall by ESPN and No. 99 overall on the 247Sports composite rankings. With offers already from Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Florida State, LSU, Michigan, Oklahoma, Penn State, Texas A&M and many other FBS programs, it is clear that the ranking backs up the talent.
Allen will be a tough pull with the amount of interest he is already receiving, but Notre Dame has historically done really well in the Northeast, and New Jersey specifically when it comes to pulling in top notch offensive line talent. With Tanona starting off the class with a bang, Allen would give Notre Dame a second outstanding tackle prospect - something very much needed after focusing more on interior lineman in the 2021 class.
Zach Rice, OT, 6-6, 285, Lynchburg (Va.) Christian Academy
Rice is a special talent and is arguably the best player on the board for Notre Dame in the 2022 class. The Virginia native is ranked as the nation's No. 11 overall player and No. 1 offensive tackle by 247Sports, and he's the No. 47 overall player on the composite rankings. If we wanted to talk about a "dream class" in 2022, it would involve the Irish landing Rice, Allen and Schrauth to go with Tanona.
Rice has interest in Notre Dame, but the staff will face very stiff competition for one of the nation’s best linemen. As it stands, Rice holds offers from Alabama, LSU, Ohio State, Florida, Michigan, and many more. That list is only going to grow, but Notre Dame is on Rice early and the entire staff needs to make him a priority immediately.
Drew Shelton, OT, 6-5, 260, Downingtown (Pa.) West
The great thing about the 2022 class is how loaded it is with talented blockers, especially in pro-Notre Dame areas. That was true in 2021 and is also true in this class. One of those players is Pennsylvania star blocker Drew Shelton, a young player the Irish staff is extremely high on. Shelton is an impressive talent with a high ceiling. He is ranked as the nation's No. 97 overall player by ESPN.
Notre Dame offered Shelton early on this cycle and are looking to gain ground early with him. The consensus four-star big man holds offers from Oklahoma, Penn State, Michigan, Michigan State, and more. Local Penn State will be difficult to beat in Shelton’s recruitment, and Michigan is also considered a major player for him.
Gunner Givens, OT, 6-6, 275, Daleville (Va.) Lord Botetourt
Givens is another elite offensive tackle on Notre Dame's board. A five-star player and the No. 19 overall player in the country on the composite board, Givens would be a coup for whatever program is able to land him. Both ESPN and 247Sports rank him as a Top 50 prospect, and his film shows why.
Checking in in at 6-6, 275 pounds with quick feet, Givens will be quite the catch for whatever school is lucky enough to get his commitment. Notre Dame can be a player here, but Alabama, Clemson, Penn State, Michigan, Florida State, and many more are also in on the talented Givens.
Jacob Sexton, OT, 6-5, 290, Edmond (Okla.) Deer Creek
Sexton is another in a long line of talented blockers that the Notre Dame staff and Quinn covet. Sexton is a supremely talented tackle who also could have potential at guard or center at the next level. That versatility only adds to his value as a prospect. A consensus four-star recruit, Sexton is ranked No. 155 overall by ESPN and No. 185 on the composite rankings.
Quinn talks with Sexton regularly, and Sexton has shared with Irish Breakdown that his relationship with the Irish line coach is a great one that is continuing to grow. The ties to Notre Dame for Sexton are not quite as strong as we are seeing with Schrauth or Rice, but there is definite interest. Getting him out of Oklahoma and away from Bill Bedenbaugh will be extremely difficult.
Collin Sadler, OT, 6-5, 295, Greenville (S.C.) High School
Sadler is another big-time player and a name to know for Notre Dame fans. Sadler is an extremely intriguing prospect along the offensive line that the staff would love to have in the fold for 2022. ESPN ranks him as the nation's No. 53 overall prospect, and he's No. 181 on the 247Sports composite ranking.
Sadler is another top 2022 blocker that Quinn talks to Sadler regularly, and the Irish coach is putting in a lot of work with him. Getting Sadler out of South Carolina and in-state power Clemson will be extremely difficult, and the Tigers seem like his leader at the time. Sadler holds offers Alabama, LSU, Oklahoma, Penn State, Michigan, and more.
JUST GETTING STARTER
The list above is far from being complete. This is just a sample of the top blockers that Notre Dame is after. There are several other top names to know, and more will likely be added to the board. Wisconsin standouts Carson Hinzman and Joe Brunner are on the radar and are talented players, as is Kentucky standout Grant Bingham and Colorado's George Fitzpatrick.
We'll have more on each of those players, and the prospects evaluated above as the 2022 class continues to become the focus of the Irish staff.
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