The Notre Dame 2022 recruiting cycle was a success in a lot of areas. The Irish brought in some high-end impact talent, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. New head coach Marcus Freeman faces a daunting road to a potential playoff berth in 2022, but did he land any pieces that could help with that movement next season? Here’s a look at the 21 currently signed recruits in the Notre Dame 2022 recruiting class and how they could (or should) factor into the 2022 rotations.
Notre Dame 2022 Recruiting Class – Defense
The Irish hauled in three defensive line recruits. Will any of them be a factor next season?
The highest-ranked recruit on the defensive line, Ford should certainly see playing time in 2022. Ideally, here’s how the Irish defensive line looks in 2022: Rylie Mills, who was a disruptive force off the edge against Virginia, moves to defensive end. That allows Tyson Ford to slot in – or at least compete – to back up Jayson Ademilola at defensive tackle. With more depth at defensive end, the Irish can get creative with using the Saint Louis product in 2022.
Gobaira is a little bit more of a developmental prospect, and he’s definitely more of an edge player right now. The Irish have plenty of depth and options at the position, so Gobaira’s unlikely to be an immediate factor.
A red-shirt year would be ideal for Donovan Hinish. This is not to say he’s not going to be a long-term weapon for the Irish. He’s a higher-rated recruit than his brother, Notre Dame captain, and three-year starter Kurt Hinish. Although Kurt played his freshman year, Donovan is entering a much more stocked defensive room, and the Irish can afford to redshirt and develop the younger Hinish brother into an absolute force.
The Irish landed both quality and quantity in this class. With some talented returning starters, who do the Irish need to be ready to contribute in 2022?
Jaylin Sneed may just be too talented to wait. That being said, the Irish have three starting-caliber players in Marist Lifuau, Jack Kiser, and J.D. Bertrand. So Sneed can come in and provide some impact-talent depth the Irish were missing in 2021. Sneed could provide immediate help in alleviating the defensive fatigue that plagued the Irish in 2021.
Joshua Burnham, Niuafe Tuihalamaka
Combining these two linebackers for the reason that they have very similar perceived roles. Burnham and Tuihalamaka are talents who could see the field as a freshman in some seasons, but 2022 is not the year. The Irish have three starters and at least one well-established package player in the second-string. They also have plenty of depth, plus Sneed entering the conversation. These guys may be too good to redshirt, but they’re not likely to crack the two-deep barring any injuries.
A prospect that Irish fans should be very excited about, Nolan Ziegler could benefit from a redshirt season. Ziegler, in a way, is the ultimate Notre Dame guy and reminiscent of Drew White. Except Ziegler comes into Notre Dame ranked about 700 spots higher than White did. And White became a three-year starter and captain. Ziegler could project as an incredible impact player in years to come. Let him develop in 2022.
The Notre Dame 2022 recruiting class included three cornerbacks, but no safeties.
Jaden Mickey is the only cornerback recruit that potentially impacts the Irish in 2022. He could maybe push Clarence Lewis for a starting role. Lewis is good and doesn’t get burnt, but he allowed completions on 64% of his targets. The most probable role is for Mickey to supplant Tariq Bracy – a likely transfer portal candidate – as a package player and second-string corner in 2022.
Jayden Bellamy, Benjamin Morrison
Redshirt. There’s no reason to overextend these guys in their first year. Morrison isn’t enrolled yet, and Bellamy isn’t the instant-impact player that could usurp players currently manning the second-string roles. Neither of them project as being ready to impact the Irish in 2022.
Notre Dame 2022 Recruiting Class – Offense
Quarterback, Running Back, Wide Receiver
With only one player at each of these three positions, let’s combine them into one section.
Steve Angeli, quarterback
Angeli should get a fair shot to win the third-string job from Ron Powlus. However, if he doesn’t, redshirt is the obvious option for the four-star freshman. He’s a talented player who enrolled early, but he’s at least two years out from playing, with Tyler Buchner and Drew Pyne competing for starting reps.
Jadarian Price, running back
With Chris Tyree, Logan Diggs and Audric Estime slated to be a dynamic trio in the backfield, Price can sit back and learn. He may take on Estime’s limited role from 2021 as the fourth option who can run out the clock in mop-up situations. However, he’s also a higher-ranked recruit than both Diggs and Estime were, so a jump up the depth chart is certainly possible if Price impresses early.
Tobias Merriweather, wide receiver
Without Merriweather enrolled early, it may be difficult to have him up to speed in time for the season opener. Thankfully, the Irish have enough scholarship receivers that can initially stock the two-deep. However, expect Merriweather to be making some level of a contribution by the end of 2022, but he’s going to need some time at the beginning of the season.
Two elite tight ends joined the Notre Dame 2022 recruiting class.
Raridon will likely redshirt due to his torn ACL. He’s an impact player later in his career, but the injury will postpone his development.
A redshirt is a likely option for Staes as well. Michael Mayer and George Takacs remain the top options on the depth chart, and the Irish aren’t losing anyone at the position for Staes to replace.
While the Irish landed plenty of talent into this group, they’ll be separated into two distinct classes.
Billy Schrauth, Joey Tanona
These guys fit the ‘could contribute in 2022’ class for two major reasons. First off, they are the only two offensive line recruits to enroll early, which is a huge benefit towards gaining early playing time. Secondly, they both project to be interior offensive linemen. There’s a little more fluidity here for the Irish and open competition. Andrew Kristofic and Josh Lugg have the inside track to the starting roles, but there’s definite competition there. Seeing Schrauth or Tanona at least get some snaps wouldn’t be shocking. However, given the depth, it’s not extremely likely.
Aamil Wagner, Ty Chan, Ashton Craig
Wagner is probably the highest-ceiling player in this class, but he’s got more of a tight-end build. He’s either going to see time at tackle, at which point he needs to wait out Blake Fisher or Joe Alt, or at guard. If he transitions to guard, the agile Wagner needs a lot more time to build up his physicality to be ready to play for the Irish. Chan is in a similar position and should be an impact player in a few years. Contributions in 2022 feel unlikely.
Ashton Craig faces a bit of an uphill battle given the depth of the O-line room and talent in this recruiting class. He’s a definite redshirt candidate in 2022 as he looks to progress in his development.
Notre Dame 2022 Recruiting Class – Special Teams
The only special teams recruit from the Notre Dame 2022 recruiting class, Bryce McFerson enters an open competition for the punting job. The Irish just landed Harvard transfer Jon Sot. It’ll take a while to see who has the inside track, as neither will enroll until after the Spring, so the Blue and Gold Spring Game will be a contest devoid of established punters.
All in all, this Notre Dame 2022 recruiting class is stocked with talent. Jaylin Sneed, Tyson Ford, and Jaden Mickey feel like the most likely candidates to be immediate impact players for the Irish in some capacity. Offensively, Tobias Merriweather and Jadarian Price are certainly worth watching as they develop. Notre Dame is elevating their recruiting and elevating their on-field talent. The national championship hunt is on under Marcus Freeman – will this be the class that brings the blue and gold that elusive trophy?