The good, the bad, the ugly: Notre Dame vs. Purdue

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Don’t tell me you wouldn’t take it. Notre Dame, entering their first off week at 3-0. The offense, averaging a hearty 36.3 points a game. The defense, giving up just 10.3 points a game.

After the first quarter of the season, the Irish defense has managed to force nine turnovers, good for fifth in the country. At +8, they rank No. 1 in the country after three weeks. That says quite a bit about the rust quickly knocked off Everett Golson and the work of Brian VanGorder and the defensive staff.

All of that puts the Purdue game into context. Notre Dame didn’t sweat out their victory, but the 30-14 win was the sloppiest Saturday the Irish played all year. Both sides of the ball have plenty to work on.

With the Irish now ranked No. 9 in both the AP and Coaches Poll, Brian Kelly has an opportunity to get his team healthy during a week off before heading to the Meadowlands to take on Syracuse.

But before we tackle the bye week, let’s look at the good, bad and ugly from the Irish’s Shamrock Series victory over Darrell Hazell’s Purdue Boilermakers.

 

THE GOOD

 

The Opening Drive. It didn’t look like the Irish were going to play sluggish football on Saturday night, with the opening drive jump-started by Amir Carlisle’s excellent kickoff return, going 47 yards to start the game.

After a nice run and screen pass reception by Tarean Folston, the Irish marched quickly for a touchdown. Carlisle added another catch, Golson was perfect, including a bullet to Will Fuller into bracket coverage for a touchdown.

 

Jump on the Irish all you want for playing slugging or sloppy. But they didn’t do it on the game’s opening drive.

 

The Defense. Looking at the box score, and watching a few drives between the first and second quarter, you’d have thought that the Irish defense played poorly. Sure, Purdue caught Notre Dame for some big plays. And no, Michigan still hasn’t scored against Brian VanGorder’s defense.

But while 14 points on the board in the first half doesn’t necessarily feel like a victory, consider seven were essentially gifted after Ben Koyack’s critical fumble in Notre Dame territory and even that touchdown was a circus catch that Cody Riggs did everything possible to stop (except stop it).

Without Andrew Trumbetti and losing Max Redfield early in the second quarter, the Irish suffered a rash of injuries that decimated their depth chart. But even playing Drue Tranquill at strong safety and flipping Elijah Shumate to free, the defense played a really impressive second half, forcing these six drives from Purdue’s offense:

Punt
Punt 
Downs
Punt
Interception
Interception

No, it wasn’t a shutout. And while Purdue had some success early running in some power formations and throwing underneath, it was a pretty impressive performance for the Irish defense, especially considering they spent much of the first half on the wrong side of the field position battle.

 

Red Zone Offense: Another “perfect” night for the Irish, converting all four of their red zone drives for points. I hesitate to put this in the good category, just because the Irish failed to get in from the one-yard line, but converting opportunities to points is the name of the game and so far the Irish have done just that.

The Irish are 14 of 14 this year, one of 27 teams who have scored every time inside the 20. But Notre Dame ranks 41st in the country in converting those into touchdowns, still room to improve.

 

Romeo Okwara. With Trumbetti held out, Okwara had himself a heckuva game. He filled up the stat sheet, leading the team with a game-high 11 tackles, while sharing a sack and being credited with a forced fumble.

Okwara’s ability to take a ton of snaps and be productive was a huge help without a pretty thin defensive line, and should also be valuable learning reps for a guy still figuring out defensive end. But any time you more than double your personal best output is a good thing.

 

Corey Robinson & Will Fuller: The sophomore duo both registered touchdown catches, with Robinson earning the game ball for making a few difficult grabs, made all the more difficult for playing with essentially one hand.

Fuller kept his concentration, bringing down some difficult grabs and nearly connecting on another long ball. (He probably jumped a little bit early.) But while most are wondering how DaVaris Daniels would play or what’s going on with Chris Brown, this duo was always expected to be productive, and on Saturday we got our first true taste.

 

Drue Tranquill. And to think, Irish fans weren’t sure Notre Dame should even offer Tranquill a scholarship. The one-time Purdue commit and Indiana native played key minutes on the backend of the defense, filling in admirably on an every down basis at strong safety.

Kelly called Tranquill a “head coach’s offer,” unsure of where Tranquill would play at the college level on Signing Day. But whether or not he grows into a linebacker doesn’t really matter. He’s already showing himself to be a great football player and a key contributor.

 

Quick Hits:

Starting in place of Ishaq Williams at defensive end, sophomore Isaac Rochell is living up to the billing Kelly gave him during camp when he called him a beast.

Another Saturday, another game where Greg Bryant just flashes explosiveness. The Irish coaching staff takes this week to evaluate what’s working and what isn’t. Bryant’s working. Now get him the ball more.

Young Kolin Hill gets on the field again and he splits a sack. That’s a pretty nice little pass rushing specialist.

Also it was very nice of Joe Schmidt to get heralded for his walk-on story. It was even better than he played good football and made a game-clinching interception.

Oh yeah. Notre Dame is 3-0 and ranked in the Top 10. And Stanford, USC, North Carolina, Florida State, Northwestern and Louisville all look weaker than they did on paper before the season.

 

THE BAD

 

The Mental Mistakes. Good thing the Irish aren’t wearing those uniforms again, because that wasn’t a team that I recognized. With presnap penalties, lining up offsides by both offensive and defensive players, Kelly didn’t hold his tongue after the game when asked about it.

“Crazy penalties. An off‑side penalty because you can’t take the time to look at the official’s foot, you know, to line up. Are you kidding me? Things like that. So they were little aggravating penalties for me more than anything else. A taunting penalty, which was uncalled for. You know, Max’s penalty. He’s trying to hold up in that situation. I know he was not trying to target anybody. We understand the rule. We understand the interpretation of the rule. We’re not arguing with it. But he was trying to hold up the quarterback, slid quickly, and those things happen. So there’s four of the seven penalties right there.

“Two of them are knucklehead penalties, and one of them was an aggressive penalty, and the other one we’ll take care of that one internally.”

Good luck with that one, Elijah Shumate.

 

The Offensive Line Play. On second viewing, it was hardly just Steve Elmer who struggled. The interior of the Irish offensive line played poorly as well, not getting much of a push or getting to the second level on their blocking assignments. That turns the next week into one where Kelly and Harry Hiestand need to do some thinking.

“We are going to have a pretty in‑depth conversation. It will probably evolve around the five guys that played, plus Christian Lombard, and whether we have the five in the right position,” Kelly said, all but acknowledging Elmer’s struggles at right tackle. “We’re not going to entertain ‑‑ maybe one other player, McGlinchey would be involved in that conversation. But quite frankly, we’ve got to find a little bit more push inside, and that’s what we’re going to try to come up with. So we’re in the process right now of kind of sorting that out ourselves.”

Reading between the lines, that means no redshirt coming off for talented freshman Quenton Nelson. But it does put guards Matt Hegarty and Conor Hanratty on notice, with Elmer’s ability to slide in likely determined by how ready McGlinchey is to play and how healthy the Irish can get Lombard during the off week.

 

Amir Carlisle’s Knee. It doesn’t sound as serious as it could be, but the fact that Amir Carlisle got hurt against Purdue — a year after that game was his ultimate undoing — is a bum deal. One week after playing the best game of his career and after opening the evening with a big kickoff return, Carlisle tweaked his knee and didn’t return in the second half.

“Amir Carlisle is having an MRI on his knee. He’s got some laxity in there,” Kelly said. “We don’t believe it’s the severity of Austin Collinsworth, which was I think about four weeks. So we’re hopeful that the MRI turns out well and that we’ll have him back for Syracuse… Met with the doctors today and they had their hands on him. They felt pretty confident that this is not a severe knee injury.”

If that’s the case, consider it a bullet dodged for the Irish and Carlisle.

 

Quick Hits:

*Already hit on it yesterday, but you can’t fumble that football Ben Koyack. 

*Catching the ball is great. But the short passing game can’t work as well as it should if the wide receivers don’t block. Without James Onwualu to play that physical role, there isn’t a lot of size or want-to out on the edges right now.

Missing that block on a 3rd-and-2 quick throw just doesn’t cut it.

* After a few weeks of impressive tackling, there were quite a few missed tackles. They seemed to be cleaned up at halftime, but still — that’s how you give up chain-moving plays on underneath throws.

* Hey Cody Riggs: Make sure you catch those punts in the air. Or get out of the way. Or take it on the big hop. You’re not a short stop, you’re a punt returner. (And maybe you shouldn’t be anymore with the injuries and suspensions at cornerback.)

* It’s time for the Honor Code committee to get their work done and decide what happens to these five kids. Provost Tom Burish was in Indianapolis on Friday for the Shamrock Series Fan Fest. Now he should get together with his deans and Honor committee and make a decision.

* Tough penalty on Max Redfield. By the letter of the law, that’s the rule. But Danny Etling sure needs to understand that the idea of sliding is to get down, not go to two knees and keep your body up. That’s a recipe for getting killed.

* Somebody look at the construction of the third-down throw down in the red zone, where Golson rolled right. It looked like a one-receiver route with Chris Brown the only option. Let’s try the recycling bin with that one. Tommy Rees’ red zone end zone throw to Brown last year was intercepted. This one almost was, too.

 

THE UGLY

It was an ugly win. Get over it. USC gave up over 400 yards on the ground. Better to win ugly than lose ugly.

But this section is reserved for the tough-luck injury to safety Nicky Baratti. On his first snap after relieving Max Redfield, Baratti went to chase down a Purdue ball carrier and barely extended his arm when his surgically repaired shoulder gave out. What a terrible break for a kid that’s done nothing but work hard during his three seasons in South Bend.

This is the kind of re-injury that could end a career. If that’s the case, it’s a hard luck few years at Notre Dame for Baratti, who made a critical interception as a freshman against Michigan and looked like a front-runner for a starting job, but just couldn’t seem to stay healthy after that.

Here’s hoping things work out, but more importantly, injuries like that are the reason you pick Notre Dame for college.

 

 

 

Reports: Tommy Rees heads to Alabama after 10 total years at Notre Dame

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: APR 23 Notre Dame Spring Game
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If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.

Tommy Rees will leave Notre Dame to do just that, heading to be the offensive coordinator at Alabama, according to reports Friday afternoon. Nick Saban and the Tide denied Rees a national championship as a player in 2012 and a title game appearance as an offensive coordinator in 2020.

The South Bend Tribune‘s Mike Berardino first reported Rees’s decision, coming a day after reports initially surfaced that Rees was Alabama’s preferred choice for the gig, and he had flown to Tuscaloosa to consider the position.

Those unbeaten regular seasons, along with one in 2018 as the Irish quarterbacks coach, were the high points of Rees’ total of a decade with the Notre Dame football program. Like his former head coach, he will now head to the SEC chasing a higher peak.

Of course, Rees spurned Brian Kelly’s invite to join him at LSU last winter, instead memorably telling the Irish offensive players, “I’m [bleepin’] staying,” setting the tone for the first week of Marcus Freeman‘s tenure as Notre dame head coach.

RELATED READING: Tommy Rees turns down Brian Kelly’s LSU overture and will remain at Notre Dame
Jack Swarbrick, Marcus Freeman and Tommy Rees brought stability to Notre Dame long before and obviously after Brian Kelly sowed chaos

Alabama made an offer Rees could not refuse, even if a year ago he said, “I love this place (Notre Dame). I believe that we can win a national championship here, and I’m committed to doing everything we can to get to that point.”

Going to Tuscaloosa does not render those words empty. Rees is going to work for the greatest college football coach in history in a role that has repeatedly springboarded coaches to better opportunities. Since Saban arrived at Alabama in 2007, his offensive coordinators have gone on to be, in chronological order, the assistant head coach at Texas (Major Applewhite), head coach at Colorado State (Jim McElwain), offensive coordinator at Michigan (Doug Nussmeier), head coach at Florida Atlantic (Lane Kiffin), head coach at Texas (Steve Sarkisian) and offensive coordinator for the New England Patriots (Bill O’Brien).

Thus, Rees is bettering both his chances at a national title in the short term and his presumed path to whatever gig he wants next in the long term.

He leaves Notre Dame after three seasons as the Irish offensive coordinator, which came after three years as the quarterbacks coach. The Irish have ranked No. 41, No. 19 and No. 30 in scoring offense the last three seasons, peaking with 35.2 points per game in 2021, the second-highest total in Brian Kelly’s tenure.

But perhaps Rees’s finest moment as a Notre Dame assistant came when he finessed a mid-season quarterback switch to Ian Book from Brandon Wimbush despite the Irish remaining unbeaten throughout 2018. In some respects, Rees threaded a similar needle in 2021, incorporating Wisconsin graduate transfer Jack Coan, then-freshman Tyler Buchner and spot-reliever Drew Pyne; each quarterback could be credited as responsible for at least one win as the Irish made a Playoff push.

Then this past season, Rees responded to Buchner’s shoulder sprain that cost him 10 games by working with Pyne to piecemeal an offense.

From December of 2021:

Rees has considered leaving his alma mater before, reportedly interviewing to be Miami’s offensive coordinator in recent years, not to mention weighing Kelly’s offer from LSU 14 months ago, as well as a previous brief dalliance with Alabama a few years ago.

After leading Notre Dame’s offense in one way or another for 10 of the last 13 years, Rees has finally opted to do so elsewhere. It just so happens to be as part of the team that twice turned back the Irish and now faces Kelly every fall.

Opportunities abound for Tommy Rees, earned recognition after a decade at Notre Dame

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A lot of people go to college for seven years. For Tommy Rees, it has been 10 years at Notre Dame, so to speak.

Whether or not Rees leaves his alma mater this week, as multiple Thursday reports indicated Rees is the frontrunner to be Alabama’s next offensive coordinator, there is no bad choice in front of him. Either Rees returns as the Irish offensive coordinator for a fourth season, continues his pursuit of winning a national championship at Notre Dame after three postseason trips already in his career, or he learns under the best college football coach in history in a position that has springboarded coaches to greener pastures for about a decade now.

Irish fans may spend most of their falls criticizing Rees’s play calls, but he is clearly someone well-respected in the coaching community. Seen as a future coach when he was a player and then navigating multiple delicate quarterback situations at Notre Dame, this is not the first time Nick Saban has chased Rees. He reportedly did so following the 2019 season, when Rees had not even spent a day as an offensive coordinator.

Instead, Rees took over that gig in South Bend, losing to Alabama in the 2020 College Football Playoff, albeit a more competitive showing than when Rees and the Irish fell to the Tide in the 2012 title game. Miami sought Rees in recent years, and whispers of vague NFL interest have popped up more offseasons than not.

If most of those people who go to college for seven years are called doctors, then Rees has put together a doctorate-level intellect evidenced by who wants to hire him. Alabama publicly sending a branded plane to South Bend to ferry Rees for a visit on Thursday underscored that reputation.

Set aside the forced references to “Tommy Boy” — though the similarities do go past the first name and to a Catholic university in the Midwest — and realize Rees will leave Notre Dame at some point, probably sooner than later.

Maybe he joins Saban this weekend. Alabama needs to navigate a first-year starter at quarterback next year in a conference that quickly seemed to catch up to the Tide last season, with both LSU and Tennessee staking claims as competitors with Georgia already clearly out in front and Mississippi in the mix. Competing with former Irish head coach Brian Kelly every year would make for juicy headlines, but what speaks louder to Rees’s credit is that this is the time Saban wants to snag him, when Alabama’s footing may be less secure than at any point since the ‘00s.

Maybe Rees returns to Notre Dame, teams with Wake Forest graduate transfer quarterback Sam Hartman to ready for three top-10 matchups in 2023, and gets the Irish into the College Football Playoff for a third time in six years with the only constant quite literally being Rees.

Oh, and both scenarios should come with plenty of money.

Rees has no bad choice in front of him. That is a credit to him, even if fans would rather lampoon him than step back and acknowledge the intricacies of playcalling.

If he heads to Alabama, the annual matchups with LSU will become delightful fodder from afar. His Notre Dame legacy will include “Call duo until you can’t speak,” his emphatic play call when he left the coaches’ booth early as the Irish upset Clemson this past November, and “I’m [bleepin’] staying,” Rees’s declaration to the offensive players last December amid a week of tumult.

If he stays in South Bend, the next matchup with anyone in the SEC, most likely a 2023 bowl game, will drip with an on-field chance at validation. That legacy will include spurning college football’s best not once, but twice.

For a quarterback who lost his starting job at Notre Dame not once (2011 preseason), but twice (2012 preseason), some pride has been earned. Saban’s stamp of approval carries all the weight needed in college football to assure someone of their professional standing.

It may have taken a decade, but Rees can now know he belongs with the best, no matter what decision he makes this weekend.

The lull of National Signing Day underscores need to move the early signing period

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The early-morning chaos of today’s National Signing Day did not disappear with the implementation of the December “early” signing period in the 2018 recruiting cycle. It just moved six weeks earlier.

In 2014, waking up at 6:45 a.m. ET to be logged on and publishing at 7 a.m. led to noticing one expected recruit had not yet signed with Notre Dame by 8 a.m. Pointing that out and reminding the world Michigan State was making a late push led to an Irish media relations staffer reaching out to quietly say something to the extent of, “Just letting the young man have his moment at school.”

In 2017, less than two weeks after taking over this gig, waking up at 3 a.m. CT to churn through 2,000 words before signings could begin becoming official eventually led to napping through Brian Kelly’s Signing Day press conference.

Nothing changed 10 months later. That December, the afternoon of Dec. 22, the Friday before Christmas, was spent waiting for receiver Braden Lenzy to officially choose Notre Dame over Oregon. Sitting at your parents’ kitchen table not helping your niece make a gingerbread house because recruiting-obsessed fans harassed a player through two de-commitments is not a strong way to conjure up holiday spirit.

Coaches across the country advocated for the earlier signing period, claiming it would allow high-school seniors to make their collegiate decisions official earlier on in their senior years, particularly when the prospects had already made up their minds on where to play football at the next level. That was all optics, if even that.

These high schoolers now make their decision official just six weeks earlier. In the preps football calendar, those six weeks are meaningless. Both the December signing period and today, the traditional National Signing Day, come well after the high-school seasons have ended.

The truth was, coaches across the country did not want to tend to their solid commitments over Christmas and New Year’s, particularly not amid bowl prep. It was self-serving at best and short-sighted at worst.

First of all, when the December signing period became reality in 2017, one-time transfers were not yet allowed without losing eligibility the following season. Secondly, no one predicted the early signing period would lead to the coaching carousel beginning earlier and earlier in the season. September firings used to be the result of only off-field scandals, not outright expected from half a dozen programs each fall. Athletic directors now want that headstart on hiring a new coach so he can have time before the December signing period commences.

Exhibit A: Notre Dame may have ended up with Marcus Freeman as its head coach after Brian Kelly’s abrupt departure following the 2021 season, but if the primary signing date had not been lingering just a few weeks away, Kelly likely would not have jumped to LSU before the College Football Playoff field was set, and Irish director of athletics Jack Swarbrick would have taken more time in choosing his next head coach, more than the 48 hours he used last December. After all, Swarbrick took 10 days in hiring Kelly in 2009.

Lastly, with a 12-team Playoff coming in 2025, December will become only more hectic.

Those head coaches who wanted a little less stress over the holidays will then have to deal with, in chronological order:

— Keeping their own jobs.
— Securing their recruiting classes in the days immediately preceding Christmas.
— Preparing their teams for bowl games.
— Preparing their teams for up to four games if in the Playoff.
— Re-recruiting any players considering entering the transfer portal before the winter window closes.
— Winning a bowl game.
— Retaining their coaching staffs.
— Oh, and celebrate the holidays with their families, as was their want when they hollered for the early signing period.

Most of those tasks are immutable and inherent to the sport.

But one can move. It already has once.

The logic is too clear. Nothing was gained in moving up the primary signing date by six weeks. And sanity was lost.

This is, of course, a sport that prefers to ignore logic, but usually that is charming. A mustard bottle on the field is quirky; lacking a worthwhile voice of authority is stubbornly stupid.

So the early signing period may not move as soon as it should (now), but it will move. There are no anti-trust worries tied to it, fortunately.

And aside from the logic, cramming more content into December costs the media, too. Spreading out that context through the vacuum of mid-January to mid-March will be much appreciated.

Leftovers & Links: An early look at Notre Dame’s seven commits in the class of 2024, including QB CJ Carr

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The traditional National Signing Day is this Wednesday, and for yet another year, Notre Dame has no intentions of inking any high-school recruits on the first Wednesday of February. The recruiting calendar has so changed that the Irish have not signed a recruit in February since 2021, when running back Logan Diggs pondered a late LSU push before doubling down on his Notre Dame commitment. Before that, not since 2019, when defensive end Isaiah Foskey publicly did so in order to be a part of his high school’s ceremonies.

Notre Dame turned its focus entirely onto the class of 2024 following December’s early signing period, when it inked a class of 24 players that ranks No. 9 in the country, per rivals.com.

Now with nearly 10 months to go before the next decision day to influence the narrative around Irish head coach Marcus Freeman’s recruiting focus, he already has pledges from seven players in the class of 2024. Class rankings this early in the cycle are rather meaningless, but for the sake of thoroughness, the Notre Dame class of 2024 is currently ranked No. 2 in the country, behind only Georgia with nine recruits pledged to date.

One player stands out among the early Irish seven. He stands out to such a degree this space broke from usual form when he committed in early June. To pull from that opening,

“This space has a general rule to not report on recruiting developments classes ahead of time. Worrying about the thoughts of high school seniors is enough of an oddity; focusing on juniors and underclassmen is outright absurd.

“But exceptions exist to prove rules, and Notre Dame landing the commitment of the No. 3 quarterback in the class of 2024 — prospects entering their junior years of high school — is such an exception.”

Consensus four-star quarterback CJ Carr is now only the No. 4 pro-style quarterback in the class and the No. 14 recruit overall, but he is the kind of key piece to a recruiting class that the Irish lacked in 2023, despite Freeman’s continued excellence hauling in defensive prospects. Carr has been an active and vocal recruiter on his own for Notre Dame, not an unusual occurrence from an early commit but a habit the Irish have not garnered out of a quarterback in quite some time. Even Tyler Buchner, due to both the pandemic and his own soft-spoken nature, was not the loudest campaigner among his peers.

RELATED READING: Notre Dame beats out Michigan for Lloyd Carr’s grandson, QB CJ Carr

At 6-foot-3, Carr looks the part of a prototypical quarterback, and his arm strength fits in line with that thought. He has downfield touch that would open up Notre Dame’s playbook in a way entirely unseen in 2022.

The other six early commitments to the Irish in the class of 2024 …

Consensus four-star running back Aneyas Williams (Hannibal High School; Mo.), ranked as the No. 1 all-purpose running back and No. 106 recruit in the class, per rivals.com: There will be many comparisons to former Notre Dame running back Kyren Williams when Aneyas Williams arrives on campus, and though they are from the same state, there is no relation. The younger Williams can do a bit of everything while his 5-foot-10 frame carries plenty of punch. He lacks truly elite speed, as Kyren did, but obviously that did not kept the elder Williams from cracking 1,000 yards in back-to-back seasons.

Consensus four-star receiver Cam Williams (Glenbard South H.S.; Glen Ellyn, Ill.), ranked as the No. 11 receiver and No. 102 recruit in the class: The Chicagoland product visited Iowa a handful of times and took looks at Michigan and Wisconsin, seemingly intent on staying in the Midwest. Williams has all the fundamentals wanted of a receiver, 6-foot-2 size combined with a comfort catching the ball. Time will reveal what part of his game, if any, develops into his specialty.

Consensus four-star tight end Jack Larsen (Charlotte Catholic; N.C.), ranked as the No. 7 tight end and No. 187 recruit in the class: Whether Larsen will be the next piece of “Tight End U” or not is a premature thought, but at 6-foot-3 and an ability to snag passes downfield over defenders, Larsen already looks the part. Credit a basketball background for that aerial ability.

Four-star offensive guard Peter Jones (Malvern Prep; Penn.), ranked as the No. 4 offensive guard and No. 99 recruit in the class: Jones plays tackle in high school, nearly an absolute requirement for any offensive line prospect chased by Irish offensive line coach Harry Hiestand, but his playing style suggests a future on the inside of the line.

Consensus four-star defensive tackle Owen Wafle (Hun School; Princeton, N.J.), ranked as the No. 10 defensive tackle in the class: Pronounced like playful, not waffle, Wafle should add weight to his 6-foot-3, 235-pound frame as he grows from a high-school junior into a college player. That may seem obvious, but the quality of that weight he adds in the next 20 months will be what most determines how quickly he can contribute in South Bend.

Consensus three-star cornerback Karson Hobbs (Archbishop Moeller; Cincinnati): Anyone committed right now has made a decision relatively early in the recruiting cycle, yet Hobbs was committed to South Carolina for three months before he flipped to Notre Dame in early November. Seeking out a committed three-star more than a year before he can officially sign may strike one as foolish, but Irish cornerbacks coach Mike Mickens has earned some leeway in his evaluations, given the early impacts of Benjamin Morrison and Jaden Mickey in 2022.

INSIDE THE IRISH
Ohio State, Clemson & Pittsburgh hurt most by early NFL draft entrants among Notre Dame’s opponents
40 Preseason Predictions Revisited, part I: Notre Dame’s rushing offense hid many early struggles
Part II: Notre Dame’s upset losses should have been expected from a first-year head coach
Part III: Notre Dame’s November far from the expected disappointment
Part IV: Notre Dame’s 2022 ended where it was always expected to

OUTSIDE READING
How QB Sam Hartman found trouble with turnovers in 2022
College QB Austin Reed got transfer portal offers comparable to late-round NFL draft picks
I requested my Notre Dame admissions file
Boston College, offensive coordinator John McNulty parting ways after 2022 struggles
Hamlin’s injury highlights precarious position of many young N.F.L. players
On the Broncos’ head-coaching finalists
Bally Sports RSNs headed for bankruptcy
Auditor: LSU overpaid Brian Kelly by more than $1M in 2022