Notre Dame has had a great deal of on-field success the last three seasons, which includes a pair of trips to the College Football Playoff. That success helped the Irish landed a 2021 class that was arguably the program's best since the 2013 class.
Notre Dame is in the process of adding an even better 2022 class, one that could truly turn the corner for the Irish program. It's a class with the potential to be a legitimate gap closing group, but for that to happen the Notre Dame staff must hit a grand slam home run in the month of June.
Here are the keys to a great month of June.
LINEBACKER HAUL COULD BE SPECIAL
Notre Dame already has a pair of talented linebackers committed in the 2022 class, which is important considering the program whiffed on the position in the 2020 class and signed just two in the 2021 group.
Top 100 linebacker Joshua Burnham and consensus four-star recruit Nolan Ziegler is a great foundation to build upon, but Notre Dame has a chance to have a truly special linebacker haul in the 2022 class. That happening means closing in the month of June.
Notre Dame will host three top ranked uncommitted linebackers in June, and landing two of those players is an absolute must. Two of those players appear to have emerged as the top targets, and first-year coordinator and linebackers coach Marcus Freeman is on the verge of something special.
Despite Texas making a very hard push, Notre Dame has placed itself in great position to land Mission Hills (Calif.) Bishop Alemany star linebacker Niuafe Tuihalamaka, a consensus Top 100 recruit. A true middle linebacker, Tuihalamaka has the combination of size, power, instincts and athleticism to dominate the middle of the defense. His June 11-13 visit is crucial to getting this one done.
The day after Tuihalamaka is scheduled to leave campus the Irish will welcome Hilton Head (S.C.) High School standout Jaylen Sneed. An exceptional athlete that could play multiple linebacker spots in the Irish defense, and a player with a knack for rushing the passer, Sneed is the kind of elite level athlete Notre Dame has often struggled to land, especially one from the southeastern part of the country.
Notre Dame will push hard to get both in the class before the month is over.
MAKE AN IMPACT WITH SKILL PLAYERS
Notre Dame will host three outstanding running backs and its top two wide receiver targets in the month of June, and knocking it out of the park with that group will go a long way towards the Irish getting the kind of elite offensive class needed to take the next step.
Running backs Dallan Hayden (June 11-13), Nicholas Singleton (June 18-20) and Gavin Sawchuk (June 25-27) are all set to make their way onto campus this summer. Ask any analyst who the best of that group is and you'll likely get a different answer, that's how good they all are and how close they are in talent. Simply put, land any one of those three players and the Irish have hit a home run at running back by adding that player to a class that already has talented back Jadarian Price.
Notre Dame will also host its top two receiver targets, and both are from the west coast. Vancouver (Wash.) Union wideout Tobias Merriweather will be on campus from June 11-13 and Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei standout CJ Williams will be on campus on June 25-27.
The Irish are in very good position with both players, the issue, however, is that both are planning on carrying their recruitments into the fall. The longer their recruitments drag out the more difficult it will be for Notre Dame to land them. Notre Dame needs to knock it out of the park with both players this summer, and a perfect word scenario is both are so blown away that they end their recruitments early and jump into the class.
Should on or both decide to hold off the danger for Notre Dame is panicking and then rushing into pushing for a commitment from other players on the board who don't stack up to Merriweather, Williams or Bluefield (Va.) Graham star Xayvion Bradshaw, who has yet to set up a visit.
Simply put, Notre Dame needs at least two of those three wideouts in the class, which means not only crushing it with all three in June, but having the conviction to see each of their recruitments to the end, which means risking not taking anyone else in the class until they decide.
CLOSE ON THE OFFENSIVE LINE
Injuries in the 2018 and 2019 classes, a small 2020 class and a 2021 class that is strong at the top but a bit shaky afterwards has put the Irish in position where a great OL haul is needed in 2022.
The Irish host Fond Du Lac (Wis.) St. Marys Springs guard Billy Schrauth from June 18-20. Notre Dame and line coach Jeff Quinn have done a tremendous job so far with Schrauth, and that visit could ultimately be what Schrauth needs to feel good about making a public commitment. Adding him to the current group would be huge.
For Notre Dame to have a truly elite offensive line haul it must add Schrauth and two of Jake Taylor (June 11-13), Carson Hinzman (June 18-20) or Zach Rice (June 25-27) to the class. It won't be easy, but that's the kind of class Notre Dame needs, it's the kind of class it is capable of and it's the kind of class an elite recruit at a program like Notre Dame should be able to land considering the recent on-field and draft success from the line.
SECONDARY HAUL FACES A PIVOTAL PERIOD
Notre Dame has one cornerback commit already in the fold in Jaden Mickey. That's certainly a strong start, but a case could be made that the secondary is the position where Notre Dame faces the biggest gap between itself and the teams winning titles. Kyle Hamilton will likely be gone by the time this class arrives, and Houston Griffith will likely be entering his final season.
Notre Dame not only needs reinforcements, it needs a class that closes the gap on the top programs.
I'll have more on this secondary class later in the week, and what constitutes a gap closing class, but it boils down to land two more top corners and pulling off an upset or two at safety.
Here are the defensive backs slated to visit in June:
CB Devin Moore
CB Benjamin Morrison
S Jake Pope
S Xavier Nwankpa
CB Nikai Martinez
CB/S Jayden Bellamy
S Sherrod Covil
S KJ Winston
GET THE GAP CLOSERS
There are a number of players on the board who are true gap closers for Notre Dame. Not just players who are likely better than what's already on the roster, but players that all but erase the gap at their positions.
I'll talk about the secondary later in the week and I've already talked about the linebackers (Tuihalamaka, Sneed), Merriweather, Williams and the running backs (Hayden, Singleton, Sawchuk), but there are other players with visits scheduled in June who fit this mold. They are elite defensive tackle Anthony Lucas (June 11-13), defensive end Cyrus Moss (June 18-20), safety Xavier Nwankpa (June 18-20), safety Sherrod Covil (June 21-23) and offensive lineman Zach Rice (June 25-27).
Landing those two linebackers, Merriweather, one of the "big three" running backs and at least two of the other players listed would be exactly the kind of gap closing class Notre Dame wants and needs.
To get that done the Irish must have as good of a month of June as we've seen in a very, very, very long time.
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