Notre Dame 99-to-0: No. 40 Joshua Burnham, early-enrolled freshman linebacker-turned-end

Joshua Burnham
rivals.com
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Listed measurements: 6-foot-4, 214 pounds.
2022-23 year, eligibility: An early-enrolled freshman, Burnham has all four seasons of eligibility remaining.
Depth Chart: Recruited as a linebacker, a key word to describe Burnham as a prospect was “versatile,” suggesting then he may make a position switch once in college, and indeed, Burnham moved up to Vyper end this spring, where he will have plenty of time to grow into the new role. Senior Isaiah Foskey and fifth-year Justin Ademilola will get the bulk of snaps at Vyper with senior Osita Ekwonu chipping in next.
Recruiting: The Michigan Gatorade Player of the Year and a consensus four-star prospect, Burnham chose Notre Dame over his homestate power while Wisconsin chased in vain. The No. 4 inside linebacker and No. 127 overall recruit in the class, per rivals.com, Burnham committed on his birthday, otherwise known as St. Patrick’s Day, a rather clear indication of his choice before he made it public.

QUOTES
Burnham spoke with the media, as did most of the Irish early enrollees, the first week of February, and throughout that conversation, Burnham repeatedly mentioned Notre Dame’s imminent hiring of a defensive coordinator and linebackers coach, giving credence to the thought that his move to the defensive line was not long-planned.

“I’m just trying to put some weight on, maintain some speed, see whoever they bring in for a linebacker coach and DC,” Burnham said. “We’ll find the right fit.”

That weight gain was also a common theme, giving credence to the thought that a move to the defensive line was not an entirely foreign concept to Burnham.

Mostly, though, he expressed a desire to find that fit and stick to it after playing on both sides of the ball throughout high school.

“There’s a lot of talent all over the field, so being able to give it your all just on one side, it’s going to be huge,” Burnham said.

NAME, IMAGE, LIKENESS
It may take a little bit to see a No. 40 jersey and not think of Drew White.

WHAT WAS SAID WHEN BURNHAM SIGNED IN DECEMBER
“Burnham’s speed is enough to beat a running back to the edge because that moment combines his foot speed with his play diagnosis. He is not necessarily fast enough to keep up with a receiver in coverage. Hence, his future will remain between the tackles.

2022 OUTLOOK
Realizing Burnham is new to his current position and buried on the depth chart, there will be a reflex to see him as the solution for running back depth since he starred offensively in high school. Burnham ran for 1,515 yards and 29 touchdowns in 2021 while throwing for 963 yards and 14 more touchdowns.

That was as a quarterback against over-matched opposition.

It was not as a running back bracing for top-tier defenses.

Burnham is unlikely to move to running back as a band-aid this season, even if finding some depth there will be necessary.

Rather, his 76 tackles with 12.5 for loss and two interceptions last season portend his future. But that is his future, not this season.

Burnham will have plenty of time to get that wanted weight on while Foskey and Ademilola star. Some of that time should result in special teams work. That, if anything, may be the natural progression for a two-way high school star.

DOWN THE ROAD
Both Foskey and Ademilola should head to the NFL after this season, leaving the Vyper depth chart uncertain at best. Ekwonu has four career tackles; early-enrolled freshman Aiden Gobaira has one advantage on Burnham, more time at defensive end, but an advantage that will diminish over this upcoming season.

A contributing role should be there for the taking for Burnham, but a starting role? That may still most likely be Jordan Botelho’s.

The junior spent plenty of spring practice working at Rover, but that seems like an attempt to get the dynamic playmaker on the field, regardless of position, rather than a full-fledged position change. Rover and Vyper have a good deal in common, in fact, balancing inverse ratios of pass rush with pass coverage.

Once Foskey and Ademilola have abdicated the leading roles at Notre Dame’s hybrid end gig, a Botelho return there full-time would make an abundance of sense.

That would keep Burnham out of the starting lineup until at least 2024, but there is plenty for him to learn along the defensive line in that interim.

RELATED READING: Michigan football phenom Josh Burnham steadfastly humble, hungry
Notre Dame’s Nick Lezynski played key role in Joshua Burnham’s commitment

NOTRE DAME 99-TO-0
From Blake Grupe to Braden Lenzy, the offseason countdown begins anew
No. 99 Blake Grupe, kicker, Arkansas State transfer
No. 99 Rylie Mills, junior defensive lineman, a tackle now playing more at end

No. 98 Tyson Ford, early-enrolled freshman, a defensive tackle recruited as a four-star end
No. 97 Gabriel Rubio, sophomore defensive tackle, still ‘as wide as a Volkswagen’
No. 92 Aidan Keanaaina, a junior defensive tackle who tore his ACL in March
No. 91 Josh Bryan, sophomore kicker
No. 91 Aiden Gobaira, early-enrolled freshman defensive end, four-star recruit
No. 90 Alexander Ehrensberger, junior defensive end, a German project nearing completion
No. 88 Mitchell Evans, sophomore tight end
No. 87 Michael Mayer, junior tight end, likely All-American
No. 85 Holden Staes, incoming freshman tight end
No. 84 Kevin Bauman, junior tight end
No. 83 Jayden Thomas, sophomore receiver, former four-star recruit
No. 80 Cane Berrong, sophomore tight end coming off an ACL injury
No. 79 Tosh Baker, one of four young Irish offensive tackles
No. 78 Pat Coogan, sophomore center, recovering from a meniscus injury
No. 77 Ty Chan, incoming offensive tackle, former four-star recruit
No. 76 Joe Alt, sophomore starting left tackle
No. 75 Josh Lugg, sixth-year offensive lineman, likely starting right guard
No. 74 Billy Schrauth, early-enrolled freshman offensive guard coming off foot surgery
No. 73 Andrew Kristofic, senior offensive tackle-turned-guard
No. 72 Caleb Johnson, sophomore offensive tackle, former Auburn pledge
No. 68 Michael Carmody, junior offensive line utility man
No. 65 Michael Vinson, long snapper, ‘Milk’
No. 65 Chris Smith, defensive tackle, Harvard transfer
No. 59 Aamil Wagner, consensus four-star incoming freshman offensive tackle
No. 58 Ashton Craig, incoming freshman center
No. 57 Jayson Ademilola, fifth-year defensive tackle, coming off shoulder surgery
No. 56 Joey Tanona, early-enrolled offensive guard coming off a concussion
No. 56 Howard Cross, senior defensive tackle with heavy hands, and that’s a good thing
No. 55 Jarrett Patterson, fifth-year offensive lineman, three-year starting center, captain
No. 54 Jacob Lacey, senior defensive tackle, now lighter and a starter
No. 54 Blake Fisher, sophomore starting right tackle, ‘ginormous’
No. 52 Zeke Correll, senior center or perhaps left guard
No. 52 Bo Bauer, fifth-year linebacker, Ironman
No. 50 Rocco Spindler, sophomore offensive guard
No. 48 Will Schweitzer, sophomore end-turned-linebacker
No. 47 Jason Oyne, sophomore defensive end-turned-tackle
No. 44 Junior Tuihalamaka, early-enrolled freshman linebacker, consensus four-star recruit
No. 44 Alex Peitsch, junior long snapper
No. 42 Nolan Ziegler, early-enrolled freshman linebacker, Irish legacy
No. 41 Donovan Hinish, incoming freshman defensive tackle, Kurt’s brother
No. 20 Jadarian Price, early-enrolled freshman running back with a ruptured Achilles
No. 9 Eli Raridon, incoming freshman tight end with a torn ACL

Notre Dame 99-to-0: No. 42 Nolan Ziegler, early-enrolled freshman linebacker, Irish legacy

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Listed measurements: 6-foot-3, 205 pounds.
2022-23 year, eligibility: An early-enrolled freshman, Ziegler has all four seasons of eligibility remaining.
Depth Chart: Wherever Ziegler lands on the Irish depth chart, it will not be within the two-deep. Most likely, he spends 2022 on the scout team, nominally behind senior Marist Liufau and sophomore Prince Kollie at Will (weakside) linebacker.
Recruiting: A consensus-four star prospect and the No. 24 outside linebacker in the class, per rivals.com, Ziegler was long likely headed to Notre Dame, given he is an Irish legacy and Catholic-school product from less than two hours away from South Bend. Nonetheless, Michigan, Iowa and Nebraska all chased the Under Armour All-American from Grand Rapids, Mich.

QUOTES
As early December threw the entire Notre Dame program into tumult, perhaps one group was uniquely grounded in stability, the quartet of heralded linebacker recruits. Their lead recruiter, position coach and coordinator — the one person in South Bend they knew best— was increasingly the Irish keystone.

“We all stuck together through it,” Ziegler said in early February. “We all respected (Marcus) Freeman, and he’s the head coach now, so he’s going to get the program in a really good position. We all made it through it, and we’re al lin this thing together now, so we’re a championship team.”

NAME, IMAGE, LIKENESS
Can Bengal Bouts cut a check to Ziegler to somehow get his younger brother to promote them?

WHAT WAS SAID WHEN ZIEGLER SIGNED IN DECEMBER
“Ziegler’s length makes him an ideal safety candidate, but if he bulks up much, a move up to linebacker would not be terribly shocking. …

“Freeman spent considerable time on Sunday discussing the need for “speed and length” at safety, and Ziegler may help fill that want, the same one that sparked the move of Ramon Henderson from cornerback to safety this season. Ziegler’s fit in Freeman’s secondary will hinge on his coverage abilities, particularly his man-to-man coverage abilities.”

2022 OUTLOOK
Injuries will sap Notre Dame of some of its linebacker depth, a football inevitability, but as long as that does not escalate to the level of last season’s August and September — in which the Irish lost multiple veterans for the entire season before typical wear and tear had even begun to tire others — then Ziegler should remain out of the rotation in 2022. If anything, he is at the deepest linebacker position on the roster, behind both Liufua and Kollie with longtime Will linebacker JD Bertrand available to make his way back to his old position, from middle linebacker, if the need arose.

That does not mean Ziegler will automatically preserve a year of eligibility, though. A former safety growing into a linebacker’s body may be the ideal player to cover kickoffs and punts. Ziegler could see special teams action in 13 games this season.

DOWN THE ROAD
Liufau, Kollie and even Bertrand all have three seasons of eligiblity remaining each, as absurd as that sounds. They will not all use all of them. However these elongated careers pan out time-wise, Ziegler may have time to develop into his linebacker gig.

There will be no fretting over an eventual transfer just because a highly-touted recruit has to wait to play consistently. Ziegler arrives at Notre Dame to wear the same digits his grandfather wore on the 1973 national championship team. His want to play for the Irish is without many peers.

And his time to do so will come; it just may be a bit before there is a spot in the two-deep for Ziegler.

NOTRE DAME 99-TO-0
From Blake Grupe to Braden Lenzy, the offseason countdown begins anew
No. 99 Blake Grupe, kicker, Arkansas State transfer
No. 99 Rylie Mills, junior defensive lineman, a tackle now playing more at end

No. 98 Tyson Ford, early-enrolled freshman, a defensive tackle recruited as a four-star end
No. 97 Gabriel Rubio, sophomore defensive tackle, still ‘as wide as a Volkswagen’
No. 92 Aidan Keanaaina, a junior defensive tackle who tore his ACL in March
No. 91 Josh Bryan, sophomore kicker
No. 91 Aiden Gobaira, early-enrolled freshman defensive end, four-star recruit
No. 90 Alexander Ehrensberger, junior defensive end, a German project nearing completion
No. 88 Mitchell Evans, sophomore tight end
No. 87 Michael Mayer, junior tight end, likely All-American
No. 85 Holden Staes, incoming freshman tight end
No. 84 Kevin Bauman, junior tight end
No. 83 Jayden Thomas, sophomore receiver, former four-star recruit
No. 80 Cane Berrong, sophomore tight end coming off an ACL injury
No. 79 Tosh Baker, one of four young Irish offensive tackles
No. 78 Pat Coogan, sophomore center, recovering from a meniscus injury
No. 77 Ty Chan, incoming offensive tackle, former four-star recruit
No. 76 Joe Alt, sophomore starting left tackle
No. 75 Josh Lugg, sixth-year offensive lineman, likely starting right guard
No. 74 Billy Schrauth, early-enrolled freshman offensive guard coming off foot surgery
No. 73 Andrew Kristofic, senior offensive tackle-turned-guard
No. 72 Caleb Johnson, sophomore offensive tackle, former Auburn pledge
No. 68 Michael Carmody, junior offensive line utility man
No. 65 Michael Vinson, long snapper, ‘Milk’
No. 65 Chris Smith, defensive tackle, Harvard transfer
No. 59 Aamil Wagner, consensus four-star incoming freshman offensive tackle
No. 58 Ashton Craig, incoming freshman center
No. 57 Jayson Ademilola, fifth-year defensive tackle, coming off shoulder surgery
No. 56 Joey Tanona, early-enrolled offensive guard coming off a concussion
No. 56 Howard Cross, senior defensive tackle with heavy hands, and that’s a good thing
No. 55 Jarrett Patterson, fifth-year offensive lineman, three-year starting center, captain
No. 54 Jacob Lacey, senior defensive tackle, now lighter and a starter
No. 54 Blake Fisher, sophomore starting right tackle, ‘ginormous’
No. 52 Zeke Correll, senior center or perhaps left guard
No. 52 Bo Bauer, fifth-year linebacker, Ironman
No. 50 Rocco Spindler, sophomore offensive guard
No. 48 Will Schweitzer, sophomore end-turned-linebacker
No. 47 Jason Oyne, sophomore defensive end-turned-tackle
No. 44 Junior Tuihalamaka, early-enrolled freshman linebacker, consensus four-star recruit
No. 44 Alex Peitsch, junior long snapper
No. 41 Donovan Hinish, incoming freshman defensive tackle, Kurt’s brother
No. 20 Jadarian Price, early-enrolled freshman running back with a ruptured Achilles
No. 9 Eli Raridon, incoming freshman tight end with a torn ACL

Notre Dame 99-to-0: No. 44 Alex Peitsch, junior long snapper

Alex Peitsch Notre Dame
@AlexPeitsch
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Listed measurements: 6-foot-1 ⅛, 210 pounds.
2022-23 year, eligibility: A junior, Peitsch has all four seasons of eligibility remaining thanks to the universal pandemic eligibility waiver creating a pathway for him to yet preserve a season of eligibility in 2021.
Depth Chart: Peitsch will back up fifth-year former walk-on Michael “Milk” Vinson as Notre Dame’s long snapper.
Recruiting: Widely considered the No. 1 or No. 2 long snapper in the class of 2020, the Under Armour All-American committed to Notre Dame eight full months before signing.

CAREER TO DATE
Peitsch played in the 52-0 blowout of South Florida in 2020 — a pertinent moment as the season progressed and multiple teams across the country, like the Bulls that Saturday, were undone by substitute long snappers when health and safety protocols sidelined their starters — but did not appear in a game in 2021.

NAME, IMAGE, LIKENESS

WHAT WAS PROJECTED A YEAR AGO
“While Vinson should remain the starter, Peitsch may see more mop-up duty this season. Even in a year with some roster uncertainty, the Irish should blow out the likes of Toledo, Navy and Stanford, at which point every backup should get work, even if doing so jeopardizes a kicker’s percentages or net yardages.”

2022 OUTLOOK
Vinson approached Marcus Freeman in December about returning for a fifth season, expecting it to be as a walk-on, somewhat tentative Freeman would suggest it was time to move on and for the Irish to turn the page to Peitsch at long snapper. Instead, Freeman expressed some level of relief that a steady on-field presence and steadier locker-room voice would return and rewarded Vinson with a scholarship.

Thus ended Peitsch’s hopes of starting in 2022. Vinson has never displayed any erraticism, so it is hard to even fathom a situation where Chuck Knoblauch needs to be benched, so to speak.

DOWN THE ROAD
2022 will be Vinson’s last at Notre Dame, at which point Peitsch will finally get his chance. The Irish did not expect a scholarship long snapper to need to wait this long to play consistently; in fact, as Peitsch arrived in South Bend just as John Shannon left, who did so just as Scott Daly left, the plan was for Peitsch to play right away.

Him not doing so has been a luxury created by Vinson’s skill and consistency.

One player’s success does not foreshadow another’s struggles. There is no evidence Peitsch will struggle once the role is his in 2023, and it should be his for at least two seasons, with a third possible but unlikely given it would take a sixth year, and at some point he will presumably want to tackle the next stage in his life, a la Shannon skipping his final season of eligibility.

NOTRE DAME 99-TO-0
From Blake Grupe to Braden Lenzy, the offseason countdown begins anew
No. 99 Blake Grupe, kicker, Arkansas State transfer
No. 99 Rylie Mills, junior defensive lineman, a tackle now playing more at end

No. 98 Tyson Ford, early-enrolled freshman, a defensive tackle recruited as a four-star end
No. 97 Gabriel Rubio, sophomore defensive tackle, still ‘as wide as a Volkswagen’
No. 92 Aidan Keanaaina, a junior defensive tackle who tore his ACL in March
No. 91 Josh Bryan, sophomore kicker
No. 91 Aiden Gobaira, early-enrolled freshman defensive end, four-star recruit
No. 90 Alexander Ehrensberger, junior defensive end, a German project nearing completion
No. 88 Mitchell Evans, sophomore tight end
No. 87 Michael Mayer, junior tight end, likely All-American
No. 85 Holden Staes, incoming freshman tight end
No. 84 Kevin Bauman, junior tight end
No. 83 Jayden Thomas, sophomore receiver, former four-star recruit
No. 80 Cane Berrong, sophomore tight end coming off an ACL injury
No. 79 Tosh Baker, one of four young Irish offensive tackles
No. 78 Pat Coogan, sophomore center, recovering from a meniscus injury
No. 77 Ty Chan, incoming offensive tackle, former four-star recruit
No. 76 Joe Alt, sophomore starting left tackle
No. 75 Josh Lugg, sixth-year offensive lineman, likely starting right guard
No. 74 Billy Schrauth, early-enrolled freshman offensive guard coming off foot surgery
No. 73 Andrew Kristofic, senior offensive tackle-turned-guard
No. 72 Caleb Johnson, sophomore offensive tackle, former Auburn pledge
No. 68 Michael Carmody, junior offensive line utility man
No. 65 Michael Vinson, long snapper, ‘Milk’
No. 65 Chris Smith, defensive tackle, Harvard transfer
No. 59 Aamil Wagner, consensus four-star incoming freshman offensive tackle
No. 58 Ashton Craig, incoming freshman center
No. 57 Jayson Ademilola, fifth-year defensive tackle, coming off shoulder surgery
No. 56 Joey Tanona, early-enrolled offensive guard coming off a concussion
No. 56 Howard Cross, senior defensive tackle with heavy hands, and that’s a good thing
No. 55 Jarrett Patterson, fifth-year offensive lineman, three-year starting center, captain
No. 54 Jacob Lacey, senior defensive tackle, now lighter and a starter
No. 54 Blake Fisher, sophomore starting right tackle, ‘ginormous’
No. 52 Zeke Correll, senior center or perhaps left guard
No. 52 Bo Bauer, fifth-year linebacker, Ironman
No. 50 Rocco Spindler, sophomore offensive guard
No. 48 Will Schweitzer, sophomore end-turned-linebacker
No. 47 Jason Oyne, sophomore defensive end-turned-tackle
No. 44 Junior Tuihalamaka, early-enrolled freshman linebacker, consensus four-star recruit
No. 41 Donovan Hinish, incoming freshman defensive tackle, Kurt’s brother
No. 20 Jadarian Price, early-enrolled freshman running back with a ruptured Achilles
No. 9 Eli Raridon, incoming freshman tight end with a torn ACL

Notre Dame loses Jadarian Price for season, running back depth suddenly a concern

Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports
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Notre Dame is already lacking enough healthy receivers. Now running back depth concerns will also trouble the Irish. Notre Dame announced Friday morning that early-enrolled freshman running back Jadarian Price ruptured an Achilles tendon in offseason training and will miss the 2022 season.

Price underwent surgery on Friday.

Without Price, the Irish are down to just three healthy scholarship running backs in junior Chris Tyree, sophomore Audric Estime and freshman Gi’Bran Payne. Sophomore Logan Diggs is recovering from a shoulder injury suffered in the Blue-Gold Game, and the timing of his return is uncertain but likely to extend into the fall.

In modern college football, that is not enough. Not when a turf toe sidelined Tyree for chunks of 2021. Ponder a sprained ankle to Tyree or Estime in mid-September. Suddenly Notre Dame would have only the other and a yet-to-practice freshman to lean on. Late September could include a blowout at North Carolina, but the Irish would have only walk-ons to offer mop-up carries. More likely, Tyree or Estime and Payne would need to salt away the win.

To dig into the loss of Price, let’s differ to the usual summer format of Notre Dame 99-to-0: No. 20 Jadarian Price, sophomore running back now out for the season …

Listed measurements: 5-foot-10, 190 pounds.
2022-23 year, eligibility: An early-enrolled freshman, Price has four seasons of eligbility remaining, a clock that now will not start ticking until the Irish head to Ireland in August of 2023.
Depth Chart: Price’s strong spring may have moved him up as high as No. 2 on the Notre Dame running back depth chart, particularly after Diggs’ injury. Now, precious few backs are available for the Irish.
Recruiting: A consensus four-star recruit and the No. 5 running back in the class, per rivals.com, Price shirked his homestate power, Texas, as well as Ohio State and Stanford when he chose Notre Dame. As he did so, he pointed to one distinct difference between the Irish and two of those programs.

“There’s one thing that really stands out and it’s just the mindset that they’re going to the College Football Playoffs every year,” Price told Irish Illustrated when he committed in February of 2021. “That’s just what they’re all about. That’s their motto. That’s their DNA. They’re going to the Playoffs every year.”

QUOTES
Price so starred in the spring finale that he was one of two players made available to the media after the game. His nine rushes for 12 yards and eight catches for 104 yards and a touchdown had not immediately gone to his head, though.

“I may be a young guy on this team, but I’m willing to do whatever needs to be done,” Price said. “Whatever role I need to play in order for us to win, and that’s what it’s all about.”

It took a week or so of spring practice for Price to realize he was not simply playing Texas high school football anymore. A veteran Notre Dame linebacker made reality clear in the simplest way imaginable.

“The third practice, we went live and just hit,” Price said. “I got my first welcome to college football experience when (senior) Marist (Liufau) hit me in practice. That really prepared me, this is real. I’m going to go out and show what I can do.”

WHAT WAS SAID WHEN PRICE SIGNED IN DECEMBER
“Price brings an ability to accelerate out of a cut and evasive hips to emphasize that cut, along with enough speed to simply run away from a defender. His game will need some maturing and at 175 pounds — at least, that is his listed weight — he will need to add a bit of muscle, but Price has all the tools Notre Dame looks for. … 

“With Kyren Williams off to the NFL and C’Bo Flemister likely headed elsewhere as well to find more playing time, Price could suddenly be the fourth Irish running back in 2022. “Fourth” may not seem like a notable spot on the depth chart, but Notre Dame has often used a fourth back to chew up clock in blowouts. Furthermore, current sophomore Chris Tyree may be used more and more on the outside, both to supplement the Irish receivers and to give more opportunity to current freshmen Logan Diggs and Audric Estime. At that point, Price may be Notre Dame’s third genuine running back. …

“Running back depth is crucial in modern college football, and the Irish have slowly built some. Pairing Price with the duo a year ahead of him may tamper some of their stats, but it will best serve all interests.”

RELATED READING: Four-star Texas RB Jadarian Price commits to Notre Dame
Jadarian Price’s freshman weight gain makes him Notre Dame’s ideal fourth quality RB
Steve Angeli’s, Jadarian Price’s spring star turns forecast differing Notre Dame futures

2022 OUTLOOK
Obviously Price’s 2022 is now going to be spent in a boot. Notre Dame will not rush Diggs back from injury, but his quick return will be paramount to the backfield’s durability.

DOWN THE ROAD
Achilles injuries are among the worst imaginable for athletes dependent on explosive moves, as a running back is. Price’s return may reach into the 2023 summer, but presuming no setbacks, he should at least be healthy enough to practice by that preseason.

Only then will it be clear if his Blue-Gold Game star turn will be a one-off or if this injury is just a bump in his road.

NOTRE DAME 99-TO-0
From Blake Grupe to Braden Lenzy, the offseason countdown begins anew
No. 99 Blake Grupe, kicker, Arkansas State transfer
No. 99 Rylie Mills, junior defensive lineman, a tackle now playing more at end

No. 98 Tyson Ford, early-enrolled freshman, a defensive tackle recruited as a four-star end
No. 97 Gabriel Rubio, sophomore defensive tackle, still ‘as wide as a Volkswagen’
No. 92 Aidan Keanaaina, a junior defensive tackle who tore his ACL in March
No. 91 Josh Bryan, sophomore kicker
No. 91 Aiden Gobaira, early-enrolled freshman defensive end, four-star recruit
No. 90 Alexander Ehrensberger, junior defensive end, a German project nearing completion
No. 88 Mitchell Evans, sophomore tight end
No. 87 Michael Mayer, junior tight end, likely All-American
No. 85 Holden Staes, incoming freshman tight end
No. 84 Kevin Bauman, junior tight end
No. 83 Jayden Thomas, sophomore receiver, former four-star recruit
No. 80 Cane Berrong, sophomore tight end coming off an ACL injury
No. 79 Tosh Baker, one of four young Irish offensive tackles
No. 78 Pat Coogan, sophomore center, recovering from a meniscus injury
No. 77 Ty Chan, incoming offensive tackle, former four-star recruit
No. 76 Joe Alt, sophomore starting left tackle
No. 75 Josh Lugg, sixth-year offensive lineman, likely starting right guard
No. 74 Billy Schrauth, early-enrolled freshman offensive guard coming off foot surgery
No. 73 Andrew Kristofic, senior offensive tackle-turned-guard
No. 72 Caleb Johnson, sophomore offensive tackle, former Auburn pledge
No. 68 Michael Carmody, junior offensive line utility man
No. 65 Michael Vinson, long snapper, ‘Milk’
No. 65 Chris Smith, defensive tackle, Harvard transfer
No. 59 Aamil Wagner, consensus four-star incoming freshman offensive tackle
No. 58 Ashton Craig, incoming freshman center
No. 57 Jayson Ademilola, fifth-year defensive tackle, coming off shoulder surgery
No. 56 Joey Tanona, early-enrolled offensive guard coming off a concussion
No. 56 Howard Cross, senior defensive tackle with heavy hands, and that’s a good thing
No. 55 Jarrett Patterson, fifth-year offensive lineman, three-year starting center, captain
No. 54 Jacob Lacey, senior defensive tackle, now lighter and a starter
No. 54 Blake Fisher, sophomore starting right tackle, ‘ginormous’
No. 52 Zeke Correll, senior center or perhaps left guard
No. 52 Bo Bauer, fifth-year linebacker, Ironman
No. 50 Rocco Spindler, sophomore offensive guard
No. 48 Will Schweitzer, sophomore end-turned-linebacker
No. 47 Jason Oyne, sophomore defensive end-turned-tackle
No. 44 Junior Tuihalamaka, early-enrolled freshman linebacker, consensus four-star recruit
No. 41 Donovan Hinish, incoming freshman defensive tackle, Kurt’s brother
No. 9 Eli Raridon, incoming freshman tight end with a torn ACL

Notre Dame 99-to-0: No. 44 Junior Tuihalamaka, early-enrolled freshman linebacker, consensus four-star recruit

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Listed measurements: 6-foot-2, 229 pounds.
2022-23 year, eligibility: An early-enrolled freshman, Tuihalamaka has all four seasons of eligibility remaining.
Depth Chart: A year ago, Notre Dame flailed for linebacker depth. Now, it should have enough to keep the heralded freshman recruiting class off the two-deep, with fifth-year Bo Bauer and senior JD Bertrand both likely ahead of Tuihalamaka at middle (Mike) linebacker.
Recruiting: Tuihalamaka committed to USC before the pandemic curtailed all recruiting, and that pledge held up for nearly a year. Then the Irish offered the southern California product a scholarship, and he quickly re-opened his recruitment, but Tuihalamaka did not commit to Notre Dame for months afterward, waiting until he could at least visit South Bend.

Once that occurred in June of 2021, shortly after the pandemic-induced recruiting dead period ended, Tuihalamaka committed to the Irish over Texas, Stanford and Arizona State, while also holding offers from more than half the Pac 12, LSU and Penn State.

The No. 8 inside linebacker in the class and No. 206 overall prospect, per rivals.com, he was the third linebacker to join Marcus Freeman’s recruiting class in Freeman’s sole cycle as Notre Dame’s defensive coordinator and linebackers coach.

QUOTES
It is a testament both to Tuihalamaka’s southern California roots and his broad talent that he was an example cited by Freeman when discussing the types of players the Irish need to pursue more aggressively.

“I don’t know if (linebacker) Jaylen Sneed and some of those guys were just dying to come to Notre Dame until you could explain to them, ‘Hey, here’s really what Notre Dame can do for you,’” Freeman said in December. “‘Hey Junior (Tuihalamaka), here’s the things that Notre Dame can do for you that will change the rest of your life.’

“So, to me, that’s the ability to just try to get into their head. ‘How can I communicate this so they can see what makes Notre Dame different?’”

NAME, IMAGE, LIKENESS
Someone needs to replace Troy Polamalu in those Head & Shoulders commercials, right?

WHAT WAS SAID WHEN TUIHALAMAKA SIGNED IN DECEMBER
“Tuihalamaka has had a college-ready frame since he was a sophomore in high school, yet he also has the athleticism to handle some work in coverage. …

“With current freshman Kahuna Kia still expected to take a two-year mission, a hole will open in the depth chart behind Bertrand. Tuihalamaka’s body will be ready for that responsibility sooner than most underclassmen.”

2022 OUTLOOK
Tuihalamaka’s early enrollment paid more dividends than it does for most, allowing him to take a bounty of second-string snaps at middle linebacker behind Bauer while Bertrand recovered from a wrist injury. And Tuihalamaka impressed in those opportunities.

Just not enough to suggest he will leapfrog either of the veterans.

Instead, Tuihalamaka Will Likely find a situational role on defense, lessening Bauer’s and Bertrand’s workload while also allowing him to focus on one niche skill. It could be blitzing or perhaps dropping into coverage on a running back. Former Irish linebacker Shayne Simon first shined in a goal-line package alone. Whatever it is, Tuihalamaka made it clear this spring, he has the physicality and speed to handle it.

Along with that, expect Tuihalamaka to cover just about every single Notre Dame kickoff this season. That alone could net him 8-10 tackles.

DOWN THE ROAD
Bauer’s record-setting career will conclude in 2022, leaving Tuihalamaka to insure Bertrand does not get worn down by a bevy of snaps. And then Bertrand’s career should wrap up in 2023.

Tuihalamaka’s path to playing time and subsequently a starting role is that clear. This spring made it apparent he is not about to be physically overwhelmed, quite a statement from a player that should have been worrying about his high school civics final.

RELATED READING: Former USC pledge, linebacker Niuafe Tuihalamaka commits to Notre Dame
Inside the unique background of Niuafe Tuihalamaka

NOTRE DAME 99-TO-0
From Blake Grupe to Braden Lenzy, the offseason countdown begins anew
No. 99 Blake Grupe, kicker, Arkansas State transfer
No. 99 Rylie Mills, junior defensive lineman, a tackle now playing more at end

No. 98 Tyson Ford, early-enrolled freshman, a defensive tackle recruited as a four-star end
No. 97 Gabriel Rubio, sophomore defensive tackle, still ‘as wide as a Volkswagen’
No. 92 Aidan Keanaaina, a junior defensive tackle who tore his ACL in March
No. 91 Josh Bryan, sophomore kicker
No. 91 Aiden Gobaira, early-enrolled freshman defensive end, four-star recruit
No. 90 Alexander Ehrensberger, junior defensive end, a German project nearing completion
No. 88 Mitchell Evans, sophomore tight end
No. 87 Michael Mayer, junior tight end, likely All-American
No. 85 Holden Staes, incoming freshman tight end
No. 84 Kevin Bauman, junior tight end
No. 83 Jayden Thomas, sophomore receiver, former four-star recruit
No. 80 Cane Berrong, sophomore tight end coming off an ACL injury
No. 79 Tosh Baker, one of four young Irish offensive tackles
No. 78 Pat Coogan, sophomore center, recovering from a meniscus injury
No. 77 Ty Chan, incoming offensive tackle, former four-star recruit
No. 76 Joe Alt, sophomore starting left tackle
No. 75 Josh Lugg, sixth-year offensive lineman, likely starting right guard
No. 74 Billy Schrauth, early-enrolled freshman offensive guard coming off foot surgery
No. 73 Andrew Kristofic, senior offensive tackle-turned-guard
No. 72 Caleb Johnson, sophomore offensive tackle, former Auburn pledge
No. 68 Michael Carmody, junior offensive line utility man
No. 65 Michael Vinson, long snapper, ‘Milk’
No. 65 Chris Smith, defensive tackle, Harvard transfer
No. 59 Aamil Wagner, consensus four-star incoming freshman offensive tackle
No. 58 Ashton Craig, incoming freshman center
No. 57 Jayson Ademilola, fifth-year defensive tackle, coming off shoulder surgery
No. 56 Joey Tanona, early-enrolled offensive guard coming off a concussion
No. 56 Howard Cross, senior defensive tackle with heavy hands, and that’s a good thing
No. 55 Jarrett Patterson, fifth-year offensive lineman, three-year starting center, captain
No. 54 Jacob Lacey, senior defensive tackle, now lighter and a starter
No. 54 Blake Fisher, sophomore starting right tackle, ‘ginormous’
No. 52 Zeke Correll, senior center or perhaps left guard
No. 52 Bo Bauer, fifth-year linebacker, Ironman
No. 50 Rocco Spindler, sophomore offensive guard
No. 48 Will Schweitzer, sophomore end-turned-linebacker
No. 47 Jason Oyne, sophomore defensive end-turned-tackle
No. 41 Donovan Hinish, incoming freshman defensive tackle, Kurt’s brother
No. 9 Eli Raridon, incoming freshman tight end with a torn ACL