Notre Dame’s focus is on preseason practices and the 2022 season, now only four weeks away, but the Irish have added two 2023 recruits on the first two days of practice, nonetheless. Rivals.com three-star running back Dylan Edwards (Derby High School; Kan.) committed to Notre Dame on Saturday, joining rivals.com three-star safety Ben Minich (Lakota West High School; West Chester, Ohio), who pledged Friday.
The No. 10 running back in the class, per rivals.com, Edwards is rated a four-star by the other recruiting services, an honor that rivals.com Will Likely apply to him whenever it next updates its rankings.
He committed to Kansas State in mid-June over interest from Nebraska and Oklahoma. Then the 2021 Gatorade Player of the Year in Kansas ran a 4.38-second 40-yard dash at an Under Armour event in mid-July, and his recruitment took a turn. Schools with mild interest dialed that up, including Notre Dame.
An Under Armour All-American, Edwards visited South Bend at the end of July and subsequently de-committed from Kansas State. While Oregon chased him, as well, Edwards becomes the second running back in the Irish class, joining consensus four-star Jayden Limar (Lake Stevens H.S.; Wash.). Edwards also holds offers from Iowa State, Michigan State and Kentucky.
At 5-foot-9 and 165 pounds, most of his 2,603 rushing yards and 38total touchdowns in 2021 came from simply running away from opponents. Edwards’ highlight reel begins with a kickoff return for a touchdown in which he races past the coverage team.
That gig may be awaiting Edwards in 2023, with current junior running back Chris Tyree having handled kickoff returns last year and unlikely to for much longer given his offensive workload. If current sophomore receiver Lorenzo Styles steps into the role for now, that same reasoning could eventually move him away from it.
Behind Tyree, the Irish have a few young running backs: sophomores Logan Diggs and Audric Estime, and freshmen Jadarian Price and Gi'Bran Payne. But none of them provide the same breakaway speed component that Edwards does.
Scat backs — and at his size, Edwards certainly fits that description — are usually more shifty than fast, if not by much, but Edwards flips that. A hole through the defense does not need to be open long for him to be headed to the end zone through it.
“They want to get me the ball so that I can make moves and score,” Edwards said to Inside ND Sports. “That’s what coach (Marcus) Freeman and [offensive coordinator Tommy] Rees played in my head. When I get there, I am going to be a playmaker. I wouldn’t necessarily put a tag on one position. … It’s about me making plays.”
He avoids tackles more than runs through them, a luxury provided by the level of competition in Kansas, and something to wonder about come next August.
Next August, Edwards will be quite possibly trying to run through a tackle from Minich, who is also known for his speed.
A receiver and safety in high school, Minich has been clocked at less than 11 seconds in the 100-meter dash. If he ever picks off a pass on an out route, he will not be caught unless DK Metcalf happens to be on the field.
At 6-foot-1 and 180 pounds, most of Minich’s power comes from his legs, which allows for surer tackling than that weight usually would suggest. His combination of speed and willingness to be physical should make him an early special teams contributor, though some added weight will be needed for more than that role.
Minich visited Cincinnati, Duke, Wake Forest and Notre Dame in June. The visit to South Bend was a camp, so the Irish coaching staff got an up-close look at him on the field. When a lower-ranked recruit commits following such a camp evaluation, it usually speaks to what the coaching staff was looking for and, apparently, found on its own campus.
Minich is the third safety in the Irish class, joining consensus four-stars Adon Shuler and Peyton Bowen.
The class, now at 23 commits, remains the No. 1 in 2023, per rivals.com.