2023 Notre Dame Recruitment Class Scores – Defense Edition
Building a championship roster requires stacking powerful combos on top of each other. Notre Dame had a great defensive lineman class in 2022, and needed to land another class in 2023. While a lot of focus will be on what they lost, what Notre Dame landed was still pretty good.
Let’s distribute the scores, which consist of satisfying the needs from the point of view of numbers/depth, talent of the signers and suitability to the system and culture.
signatories: Devan Huston, Armell Mocham, Brennan Vernon
Notre Dame needed a four-man class in 2023 and they got that group. Notre Dame needed to add height and size to its depth chart, and it meets those needs. Notre Dame also needed to add touching talent, and this is the part that drags the class a bit.
It’s a good group, a group that a lot of teams want, but it’s not the elite group it is at the moment. I’m not worried about not landing a reckless game because of what Notre Dame has from last year’s class, but there are plenty of booms or busts of talent in the class. If some of the players at the highest levels are jumping at this pitch, but there is also a possibility of them falling playing close to their floors.
This is a diverse group of players and they have a lot of length and tools. Brennan Vernon has been in the class a very long time, and where he ends up is going to be interesting. More of a big end when he committed, Vernon has filled in very little and can emerge as an inside man in college. If he can stay healthy, the Ohio native could be a standout for the Irish. Traore has exceptional tools, but he’s downright brusque. The maqam ceiling is also high, but it’s also very raw.
I would argue that the top floor in the class is Houstan, whose game I really like. He can play anywhere from 5-tech to nose tackle. Houstan is taller than modern inside players, which is essential, and I see him grow into a running back playmaker in the quarterback.
signatoriesJaden Osprey, Drake Bowen, Preston Zenter
For the second year in a row, Notre Dame had one of the best running backs in the country. The drop in rankings that Osprey and Bowen received after they committed to Notre Dame is one of several examples of why the national rankings are flawed and relatively useless to be used as a driver for evaluating this category. Both were top 50 caliber players when they selected Notre Dame and both were better seniors than they were as juniors.
Bowen had a great season at the Monsters and was pitching projects on both Mike and Will, and it wouldn’t shock me if he played some on the edge, too. Bowen can both run and hit, and is a leader in this class. Ausberry can also run and hit, and is a smooth linebacker with an incredibly high football IQ.
I’ve spoken to sources who think Zinter may have the highest cap in the class. That’s not how I rate it, but it speaks to how good this set is. If I take a hit in this chapter it would be that I don’t see him playing as well with a three-man group (Rover, Mike, Will) as he did last year, but with Bowen and Zinter having the tools to play Vyper in some appearances this group can Get it in the field together.
meet depth needs? check. promotion in sports? check. Possibility of influence? check. cleverness? check. I love this run back.
signatories: Micah Bell, Christian Gray
Notre Dame had a grade A cornerback for the second year in a row, and Mike Mickens quickly and completely overhauled his position. Very few, if any, teams in the country have recruited a Notre Dame cornerback in the past two years.
Gray is a tall, fluid playmaker at cornerback with incredible pace and athleticism. The St. Louis native has the tools to be an effective frontier cornerback, but also has the length and range to play spot field in a manner much like how Cam Hart playing it. Bell is a dynamic athlete and arguably the fastest cornerback in the country. Its gameplay is a bit rudimentary, but its tools are great beyond its speed.
Gray and Bell can easily be on the field together, and they’re both a perfect scheme that fits the Notre Dame defense. Whether managed by Marcus Freeman or Al Golden, the Irish defense will want to play a much larger role in man coverage, and that suits both Gray and Bell. It’s hard to come by pure cover players in today’s era, and Notre Dame has two of the best pure cover players in the country in 2023.
signatoriesBranden Hellman, Ben Minish, Adon Schuller
Notre Dame missed out on an elite ride, and that’s something that will always be part of the narrative. but with Peyton Bowen Outside of class, you should now view Hillman as a safety device, and that changes the narrative a bit for me.
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Notre Dame needed a touchdown three times in the season, and speaking to sources the plan was always to have Heilman a guy who could play it safe if Bowen lost. If they land a bown, Hellman can still be safe, or you can use him in other places. But his late landing was a big deal for the Irish in many ways, and it gave them protection in case Bowen did what he eventually did.
This is not a highly talented group, at least not from a current esteem standpoint, but it is a quality group nonetheless. All three are four stars on the Irish Breakdown board, they all have room for improvement and they fit well together. Minich has the range to play alleys and center field, Shuler can be an alley man or even a rover in a true 4-2-5 game, and Hillman can do that too. This group can play together, which is key.
It’s an athletic group, a very productive one, and while it will be a unit where fans are constantly saying ‘what if’, there’s no denying the Irish staff have improved the situation by landing in this group of defenders.
rank: b +
I’ve fought back and forth between a B+ and an A- but I’m going with a B+ because of the questions I have about the floor versus ceiling gap along the defensive line. This is a very good group of defensive players. Notre Dame has met the needs, has landed potential impact players at all three levels and continues to recruit the cornerback position at the elite level. If you’re able to focus on what is and what can’t be, it’s hard not to really love this group.
A – caliber elite/college football match
B – Distinguished / the highest 15 caliber
C – Solid caliber / borderline higher than 25 caliber
D – Subpar / not good enough
And – a disaster
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Irish breakdown content
Notre Dame 2022 roster
Notre Dame 2022 schedule
Notre Dame Scholarship Offers 2023
Notre Dame Scholarship Offers 2024
Ranking of countries signed in 2022 – violation
Ranking of 2022 Signatories – Defence
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