Notre Dame landed an outstanding 2021 recruiting class, and the offense fueled that group. The same is true in with the 2019 class. The architect of those classes is gone, and now the revamped offensive staff much prove it can put together an elite group of recruits.
There is a dream class out there for Notre Dame if it wants to close the "talent gap" between itself and programs like Clemson, Alabama and Ohio State. Below is my analysis of what that dream class can and should look like.
This list is comprised of prospects that are legitimately on the board for Notre Dame, even though several will be extremely difficult to land, but they are the kind of players that Notre Dame needs to start landing if it wants to close that gap.
QB Steve Angeli - Notre Dame Commit
RB Jadarian Price - Notre Dame Commit
RB Dallan Hayden, Nicholas Singleton or Gavin Sawchuk
WR Amorion Walker - Notre Dame Commit
WR Xayvion Bradshaw
WR Tobias Merriweather or Andre Greene Jr.
TE Jack Nickel - Notre Dame Commit
TE Holden Staes
OL Joey Tanona - Notre Dame Commit
OL Ty Chan - Notre Dame Commit
OL Zach Rice or Tyler Booker
OL Jake Taylor or George Fitzpatrick
OL Billy Schrauth, Carson Hinzman or Joe Brunner
The numbers on both sides of the ball are high, so at some point they will have to suffer some personnel losses from the current roster or take one less player at different positions. Of course, the NCAA could expand rosters for 2022 as teams work back from the Covid-19 eligibility changes from 2020.
One thing is certain, the more players Notre Dame lands from this group the better this class will be.
NOTRE DAME COMMITS
Of the six commits already in the class, three of them would have been part of my original “dream class.” Those three players are running back Jadarian Price and offensive linemen Joey Tanona and Ty Chan. Tanona and Price are no brainers, and while Chan is incredibly raw and comes with risk, he’s also athletic, talented and has a high ceiling.
Quarterback Steve Angeli, wide receiver Amorion Walker and tight end Jack Nickel are all quality players, and all have traits that could allow them to continue developing as seniors, and in college, which would result in my changing my current view of them. Based on where things stand right now, however, they would not have been on my original “dream class.”
Those three prospects are the kind of player Notre Dame has landed plenty of in recent seasons, and they all provide good depth right now, but they aren’t prospects that close the gap on Alabama, Clemson and Ohio State, at least not based on what I’ve seen of them so far. Hopefully I’m writing a mea culpa about each prospect by the time we get to signing day.
This is the “big three” at running back, and any Notre Dame “dream class” will include one of these three players. Hayden and Singleton are both strongly considering Notre Dame and Ohio State, while Sawchuk is the least likely of the three. All three grade out as Top 100 recruits on the Irish Breakdown scale, and while Hayden is my personal favorite, all three would be home run pick ups for the Irish.
WR XAYVION BRADSHAW
Landing Bradshaw won’t help Notre Dame’s recruiting rankings, but I don’t care about recruiting rankings, I care about the Irish landing impact talent, and everything I’ve seen from Bradshaw tells me he is an impact talent. Bradshaw is an explosive athlete that has the speed to stretch the field, dynamic after-the-catch skills and he’s a dangerous special teams weapon. He’s hidden way out in western Virginia, but make no mistake, this young man is a game changer.
WR TOBIAS MERRIWEATHER or ANDRE GREENE JR.
Notre Dame has landed several “smaller” wideouts in the last couple of seasons (Xavier Watts, Lorenzo Styles Jr., Jordan Johnson, Jay Brunelle, Kendall Abdur-Rahman), so landing a couple of “big” receivers would be a good idea in the 2022 class. Walker is one of those players, and landing one more higher-floor/high-upside player that can thrive on the outside is a must in this class. Prospects CJ Williams and Tetairoa McMillan aren’t legitimate options at this point, but Merriweather and Greene would fit that style. Both are outstanding prospects, but right now I project Merriweather to have an even higher ceiling, while Greene has the higher floor.
Should Notre Dame replace one of these bigger players for a smaller, more explosive player like Kaden Saunders it would be an equally huge pickup.
TE HOLDEN STAES
Nickel is a solid player, but Notre Dame wants a second tight end in the 2022 class, and Staes is the best on the board. ESPN ranks him as the nation’s best tight end and the No. 96 overall player. I can’t debate that because I haven’t watched enough of the nation’s top players at the position, but I have broken down Staes, and he has a unique combination of size, athleticism and ball skills. He’d be a big pickup in the class.
OL ZACH RICE or TYLER BOOKER
Notre Dame needs an elite offensive lineman in this class, especially one that can play tackle. When you are O-Line U and you’ve done at the position what Notre Dame has over the last decade, there’s no excuse not to land at least one elite offensive line prospect per season. OL coach Jeff Quinn landed one in 2020 (Tosh Baker) and two in 2021 (Blake Fisher, Rocco Spindler), but it’s not looking good to get one in 2022. The Irish are in the mix with Rice and Booker, but they aren’t the leader for either. Changing that between now and signing day is a must!
OL JAKE TAYLOR or GEORGE FITZPATRICK
Notre Dame also needs another high-upside offensive tackle in the class, and there are two prospects who won’t blow you away from a rankings standpoint, but their ceilings are exceptionally high. Taylor and Fitzpatrick are both athletic and undersized blockers, but if they can fill out their impressive frames they both have the skills to eventually develop into All-American caliber prospects on the outside. Landing either one of these high-ceiling prospects is essential for the Irish class. Landing both would make me feel a bit better about not landing one of the higher-floor prospects (Rice, Booker).
OL BILLY SCRAUTH, CARSON HINZMAN or JOE BRUNNER
Wisconsin always produces top offensive lineman, but this season they have three studs in the state: Schrauth, Hinzman and Brunner. Notre Dame is considering taking a fifth offensive lineman in the class, and landing one of the Top 100 caliber blockers from the Badger State would be a feather in Quinn’s cap.
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