Notre Dame found its first defensive lineman in the recruiting class of 2022 with Monday’s commitment from consensus four-star end Tyson Ford (John Burroughs School; St. Louis). In choosing the Irish over Oklahoma, Georgia and homestate Missouri, Ford made it clear new Notre Dame defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman has hit the ground running in recruiting, just as Irish head coach Brian Kelly indicated would be expected in his statement upon hiring Freeman.
“He is considered among the elite recruiters in the coaching ranks,” Kelly said 10 days ago. The evidence already agrees.
“I really think the Marcus Freeman situation changed things a little bit,” Ford said to Carter Karels of The South Bend Tribune. “I’ve been talking with him ever since he got there really. He was telling me it was a great opportunity to study, get a degree and play football at a school as prestigious as Notre Dame, that it was an opportunity that you can’t turn down.
“After that conversation with him, we talked for a long time. I thought about it, I made pros and cons of each of my schools, I realized Notre Dame was the best choice.”
In addition to those finalists, Ford received scholarship offers from Michigan, Texas and Texas A&M, among others.
The No. 64 overall prospect in the class and No. 5 defensive end, per rivals.com, Ford’s strong arms keep offensive linemen from establishing their hands inside his pads, giving him space to deploy an impressive set of pass rush moves for a high school junior. He likes to pass rush from an upright position, suggesting Notre Dame defensive line coach Mike Elston will have some work to do on Ford’s fundamentals, though that upright approach also emphasizes Ford’s quick first step, which should be an asset regardless of his pre-snap posture.
The Under Armour All-American stands 6-foot-6 with 250 pounds of muscle stretching across his long reach, giving him an on-field look similar to Irish rising junior end Isaiah Foskey (6-foot-4 ⅞, 257 pounds), and not just because they both wear No. 7. There is every reason to think Foskey may have an impressive enough 2021 to head to the NFL early, meaning Ford may be able to keep his high school digit at the next level, and if so, it will confuse Notre Dame fans given the similarities between the two.
A high-floor, high-ceiling prospect, Ford is the fifth Irish commitment in the class of 2022 and the second defensive pledge, joining three-star linebacker Nolan Ziegler (Catholic Central High School; Grand Rapids, Mich.). As programs navigate the NCAA’s universal pandemic eligibility waiver, they may sign smaller classes in 2022 to accommodate players with an unexpected extra year to play while the NCAA returns the scholarship limit to 85.
Notre Dame’s class of 2021 is still expected to add consensus three-star running back Logan Diggs on the traditional National Signing Day of Feb. 3, completing a 27-player haul, but otherwise all attention has already turned to the 2022 class.