Notre Dame’s Opponents: A path to the Cotton Bowl, wanted or not


Once every three years, Notre Dame’s chances of making a New Year’s Six bowl are greatly diminished by the planned rotation of the College Football Playoff semifinals. This is such a year, though the greater reduction in odds certainly came when the Irish inexplicably lost to Stanford in mid-October.

Rather than rehash the exact struggle every three years, a quick WordPress search three years into the past brings it up quickly, four days shy of exactly three years ago.

“Half the New Year’s Six bowls have conference contracts while the remaining three pull from the rest of the top 12 when not hosting semifinals. The 2019 anomaly, one that will next appear in 2022, is that both the Fiesta Bowl and the Peach Bowl are hosting semifinals, leaving only one true at-large opening available, guaranteed to face the highest-ranked Group of Five team.”

The Big 12 and the ACC may both jump teams over No. 18 Notre Dame (7-3) into the Sugar and Orange Bowls, respectively, if things go as one would expect this season. But there is one exact scenario in which maybe the Irish land in the Cotton Bowl (Jan. 2, 2023), though some may prefer not to face the best of the Group of Five, presumably the AAC champion.

Obviously, Notre Dame needs to beat No. 7 USC to finish the regular season, but let’s clarify that: The Irish need to beat the eventual Pac-12 champion Trojans.

That distinction implies both No. 12 Oregon and No. 10 Utah will end up behind Notre Dame in the final rankings, while also buoying the Irish claim, which will be needed. Upsetting the champion of two Power Five conferences will garner notice, and it is already guaranteed Notre Dame beat the ACC winner.

Secondly, a 12-1 TCU needs to win the Big 12.

That suggests the No. 4 Horned Frogs wil lose either at Baylor or against Iowa State, but then win the Big 12 and claim the bid to the Sugar Bowl. No. 15 Kansas State would fall behind the Irish with certainty.

Those two bold sentences should have Notre Dame in position to reach the Cotton Bowl, naturally jumping No. 17 Washington and No. 14 Mississippi. No. 16 UCLA would fall behind the Irish after losing to USC. If keeping track, No. 13 and No. 11 have not been discussed. The former is North Carolina, which jumps into the Orange Bowl in this template if it loses to No. 9 Clemson in the ACC title game, or vice versa. (The other reaches the Playoff, thanks to TCU, No. 3 Michigan, No. 6 LSU and No. 7 USC all losing.)

Then there is No. 11 Penn State.

That’s why “should” was italicized. The Nittany Lions head to Rugers and face Michigan State; a loss would render this wonder moot. But if Penn State finishes 10-2, despite not having any wins over top-20 teams while Notre Dame would, after winning in Los Angeles, have three, the Nittany Lions could snag that Cotton Bowl bid. Even this very exact scenario would require the selection committee to reconsider a ranking. Otherwise, …

Of course, none of this will matter in three years. By then, the 12-team Playoff will be more likely than not, and the question would be if the Irish could claw their way into those rankings. A win at USC would probably be enough.

Boston College (3-7): The Eagles upset No. 16 North Carolina State last week, even though they rushed for a net of negative-one yard on 23 carries. Rather than continue pointing out how ravaged Boston College’s offensive line is by injuries and once again point out this space’s most-coveted stat, that the unofficial official Notre Dame record for team sacks in a game is nine, last done in Lou Holtz’s final game, let’s delve into another bowl scenario sparked by mentioning North Carolina State.

The Wolfpack is struggling, clearly, without star quarterback Devin Leary. If evaluating a player’s value by how his team struggles without him, Leary should be a hot commodity this offseason.

But for a moment, grant the possibility that North Carolina State could beat North Carolina to end the season. Then, if the Heels upset Clemson in the ACC championship game, there may be another path to the Cotton Bowl for Notre Dame. This is, essentially, the same suggestion as 12-1 Big 12 champion TCU, but instead it is, 11-2 ACC champion North Carolina.

The question would remain, Notre Dame or Penn State?

Anyway, the Eagles head to South Bend (2:30 ET; NBC) as 20.5-point underdogs with a combined point total Over/Under of 44.5, as of midday Wednesday. A 32-11 result, so to speak, would be the first time the Irish have fallen short of 35 points since their last loss, Oct. 15 against Stanford.

No. 7 USC (9-1): The Trojans avoided a lookahead worry by demolishing Colorado, 55-17, on Friday, but the victory cost USC, too. Oregon transfer running back Travis Dye suffered a season-ending injury. He leads the Trojans with 884 yards and nine touchdowns while averaging 6.1 yards per carry.

USC needs to adapt quickly without him, favored by only 1.5 points against UCLA (8 ET; FOX).

No. 2 Ohio State (10-0): The Buckeyes beat up on Tom Allen and Indiana, 56-14, and will now presumably do the same to Maryland (3:30 ET; ABC), favored by only 27.5. The Terrapins have an explosive offense, but that number feels low, given the only teams to stay within four touchdowns of Ohio State this season have been Notre Dame, Penn State and weather-aided Northwestern. Maryland is not going to have the benefit of a region-wide storm.

Marshall (6-4): The Herd beat Appalachian State, 28-21, again underscoring how Marshall should have been in Sun Belt contention this season but struggled with little reason through a midseason lull. To further that sentiment, the Herd is favored by 4.5 at Georgia Southern this week (6 ET; ESPN+). Bluntly, if Marshall had not let Coastal Carolina jump out to a 21-0 first-quarter lead in late October, eventually a 24-13 loss, the Herd would be heading to the Sun Belt title game.

Cal (3-7): Cal fired some assistant coaches after losing at Oregon State, 38-10, the kind of move that suggests Bears head coach Justin Wilcox expects to be back next season, logically, since he signed an extension last offseason.

Please find anything better to do than to watch Stanford at Cal (5:30 ET; P12) this weekend, with the Bears favored by 4.5 points.

No. 13 North Carolina (9-1): The Heels host Georgia Tech this week, favored by three touchdowns (5:30 ET; ESPN2), after just racing by Wake Forest and burgeoning sophomore quarterback Drake Maye’s Heisman candidacy. Running up the score may further those trophy thoughts.

BYU (5-5): The Cougars enjoyed a late idle week and now may as well delight in another, hosting FCS-level Utah Tech. (You may better know Utah Tech by its past name, Dixie State, changed for obvious and good reasons.)

This late reprieve in BYU’s schedule comes as a result of being an independent, a worry the Cougars will not have after this season.

Stanford (3-7): The Cardinal was laughed at by Utah, 42-7, last week, and if there ever was a time to put faith in Cal …

UNLV (4-6): The Rebels lost to Fresno State, 37-30, and will now actually get plenty of eyeballs this week, the visiting team in the Hawaii Test, as late-night college football fans prefer to call it. If you really want to watch (11 ET), with UNLV favored by 11, you need to download the Team1 Sports app on a mobile device or tablet. It is free, but only available via that app. (Then, this scribe typically mirrors his phone on a TV screen.)

Syracuse (6-4): If a team starts the season 6-0 and then is 6-4 and a 10-point underdog at Wake Forest this week (8 ET; ACCN), was it ever genuinely 6-0 to start with? Obviously, things have gone from bad to worse for the Orange, barely a speed bump for Florida State last week, losing 38-3.

No. 9 Clemson (9-1): The Tigers kept their Playoff hopes alive by beating Louisville 31-16, a score made closer by the Cardinals crossing the goal line as time literally expired.

Clemson welcomes the shell of Miami this week, a game ESPN is broadcasting at 2:30 ET solely because of name-brand value, assuredly. The Tigers are favored by 19, so let’s assume the win and then ponder how viable Clemson’s path to the Playoff is.

Beating North Carolina in the ACC championship should jump the Tigers over No. 8 Alabama.
If No. 7 USC loses to UCLA, Notre Dame or in the Pac-12 title game, it’ll fall.
No. 6 LSU should lose to No. 1 Georgia in the SEC championship game.
No. 4 TCU is unlikely to win out, though it could. But if it loses just one of three, it’ll fall behind Clemson.
No. 3 Michigan or No. 2 Ohio State is assured a loss, and the committee is more likely to drop the Wolverines a couple extra spots.

All those likelihoods would conceivably have the Tigers as the No. 4 seed facing Georgia.

Could those flawed conference champion thoughts apply to Clemson, as well, to spur Notre Dame into the Cotton Bowl? Yes, but Miami and Georgia Tech do not make it a reality worth discussing.

Navy (3-7): The Midshipmen head to No. 20 Central Florida as 16.5-point underdogs. More notably, few first quarters will be as well-watched as this one, kicking at 11 a.m. ET on ESPN2.

12 ET — TCU (-2.5) at Baylor on FOX
3:30 ET — Penn State (-19.0) at Rutgers
8 ET — USC (-1.5) at UCLA on FOX

Notre Dame adds four-star RB and in-state OL after biggest recruiting weekend of summer


Following its biggest on-campus recruiting weekend of the summer, Notre Dame has already added two pieces to its future rushing game. First, consensus four-star running back Kedren Young (Lukin High School; Texas) committed to the Irish late Monday night, and then consensus three-star offensive lineman Styles Prescod (Hamilton Southeastern H.S.; Fishers, Ind.) followed suit midday Tuesday.

The No. 16 running back in the class and No. 213 overall prospect, per, Young chose Notre Dame over Missouri, Texas A&M, Texas and Michigan. In total, eight Division I programs from his homestate of Texas offered Young scholarships.

At 5-foot-11 and 210 pounds, he runs angry before running away from defenders, who have a hard time squaring him up on the rare occasions they get a chance at a tackle. Young’s highlight reel borders on tedious it is filled with so many breakaway runs, scoring 19 touchdowns and averaging more than seven yards per carry as a junior.

He is the second running back in Notre Dame’s class of 2024, joining consensus four-star running back Aneyas Williams (Hannibal H.S.; Mo.). The Irish need such a duo given the distinct likelihood current junior Audric Estimé heads to the NFL after this season, leaving Notre Dame with only three unproven ball carriers in the backfield.

Either sophomore Gi’Bran Payne or Jadarian Price could break through as Estimé’s complement in 2023, but both have worrisome injury histories, making a sheer numbers approach to the position prudent.

Both Young and Prescod were at Notre Dame for the so-called Irish Invasion this past weekend, a camp the Irish coaching staff uses as a chance to evaluate many top prospects in person while also giving them an opportunity to see campus before possibly taking an official visit this fall.

For Prescod, it was a shorter trip. From a suburb north of Indianapolis, he had about a two-hour drive to South Bend, the rare prospect close enough to Notre Dame to give the Irish a geographic advantage, even as half the Big Ten chased the offensive lineman, including Iowa, Michigan and Indiana.

Notre Dame first sought the 6-foot-6, 265-pound Prescod when Harry Hiestand was still the Irish offensive line coach, with new position coach Joe Rudolph finishing the push.

Prescod plays tackle in high school, and while Indiana high school football is not the stiffest of competition, he looks the part of a collegiate tackle, as well. Most notably, Prescod sets a clean edge even if he is not yet fully grown. He also has some power to his blocks, while still needing to add 20-30 pounds of muscle.

If that day comes, Hiestand’s, Rudolph’s and Notre Dame’s expectations of Prescod as a prospect should become reality.

The third offensive lineman in the class, he joins four-star Peter Jones (Roswell; Ga.) and three-star Anthonie Knapp (Malvern Prep; Penn.).

The combination of Young and Prescod brings the Irish class of 2024 to 19 total commits, the most in the country at the moment. Notre Dame ranks No. 2 in class rankings, per, behind only Georgia (with 17 commitments) and ahead of Michigan (17), LSU (16) and Penn State (17).

This is the second year in a row the Irish have spent the summer in the top three, falling to No. 11 when all was said and done last cycle. There are obviously no assurances another such late drop will not befall Notre Dame, but regardless, the summer momentum furthers the Irish coaching staff’s recruiting pitch.

Notre Dame 99-to-0: No. 76 Joe Alt, first-team All-American left tackle

Clemson v Notre Dame
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Listed measurements: 6-foot-8, 315 pounds.
2023-24 year, eligibility: A junior, Alt has two years of eligibility remaining.
Depth Chart: Alt will be the Irish starting left tackle this fall, not surprising given he will be the first-team All-American left tackle in most, if not all, preseason considerations.
Recruiting: Notre Dame recruited Alt as an offensive lineman when he was a 240-pound tight end. He was up to 280 pounds by the time he signed with the Irish in December of 2020, still needing to add weight as his frame continued to grow.

Throughout that entire process, he remained a three-star prospect despite his father’s NFL pedigree, a 13-year NFL tackle. Few three-star recruits are drafted, even fewer are surefire first-round draft picks, and fewer yet are All-Americans as sophomores.

Alt’s career hit the fast track when injuries to three young tackles ahead of him in the first month of the 2021 season left Notre Dame with no choice but to throw him into a starting role; less than two years after Alt was a high school tight end, he was the starting left tackle following in the footsteps of Zack Martin, Ronnie Stanley and Mike McGlinchey.

There is obviously no way to ever know how long it would have taken Alt to blossom on Saturdays if not for the back-to-back-to-back injuries of Blake Fisher’s torn meniscus, Tosh Baker’s concussion and Michael Carmody’s sprained ankle in September of 2021, but it is an entertaining parlor wonder.

Instead, Alt will go down as a three-year starter at left tackle, not missing a game in 2022. Counting this coming season, Alt will be the fifth consistent starter at left tackle for the Irish in the last 14 seasons. Three of those previous four were drafted in the top 20 with Liam Eichenberg going No. 42 overall in 2021.

2021: 13 games, 8 starts.
2022: 13 starts.

Logically, Alt is likely making more this year than all but one or two other players on Notre Dame’s roster. Given he has proven himself and will consistently be a headline player in 2023, even as an offensive lineman, that should not surprise anyone.

Much of that income will not be noticed publicly, but some of it will come from the most obvious of sources, working with the next generation of players.

This space has said it before, and it will say it again. The NCAA’s prohibiting players from working in camps like that up until a few years ago was the most obtuse of its many obtuse policies.

Alt will also profit off sports cards and signing them. Again, an obvious thing that was never going to harm anyone except the NCAA’s monopoly and schools’ control of players, which is why it was outlawed for so long.

When Harry Hiestand retired, it was generally understood Irish head coach Marcus Freeman would have his pick of offensive line coaches from across the country. Notre Dame returns three veteran starters up front, including a clear first-round draft pick in Alt. That line should make its position coach look good the next couple of years. Pulling Joe Rudolph out of Virginia Tech, where Rudolph had made a long-term commitment just a year ago, proved that understanding to be true.

“Some guys just have amazing talent,” Rudolph said of Alt in mid-April. “Amazing athleticism, amazing size.

“And then there’s some guys that just have the quality of leadership and the grit and the way they’re going to get it done in the moment. They’re going to be a great leader and make guys around them better. You don’t always find that all in one guy.

“He’s as close as I’ve got to see all of that in one guy. He brings it from all facets, and it’s much appreciated. … Very unique young man.”

“If Alt was able to help solidify the Irish line, along with left guard Andrew Kristofic stepping in for Zeke Correll, with his size after just one summer in a collegiate strength and conditioning program, then all expectations should be fast-forwarded even further. It defies logic to think someone once projected as a possible 2024 contributor could now be a stalwart on the Notre Dame line in 2022, but Alt has made that a potential reality.

“That is not meant to jump the proverbial shark or to move the figurative goal posts. It is just the possible continuation of Alt’s rapid ascent.

“At the absolute least, he should start throughout the season, barring injury. His length was what made Alt an intriguing prospect as a recruit, along with his lineage. Taking so well to adding weight already should make him durable, as well.

“He will give up some sacks, just as he did early in his first start, but that is the inevitability of the position. Under returned offensive line coach Harry Hiestand’s eye for fundamentals, Alt should correct those mistakes shortly after he makes them. That could make for a very impressive November.”

Alt ended last season as a first-team All-American. Remember: He was recruited as a project, not as a three-and-done, multi-year All-American first-round draft pick.

Walter Camp has already named him a preseason first-team All-American for 2023, and a pile more of those nods should come before the season. So his 2023 will be marked by three possibilities: unanimous All-American, Outland Trophy, Joe Moore Award.

If Alt pulls off those first two, Notre Dame will be in good position for the third, the honor given to the best offensive line every season. If that becomes reality, then the Irish ceiling in 2023 ticks toward Playoff contender.

There are few other ways to genuinely track a left tackle, but Ohio State’s primetime visit on Sept. 23 will shine a light on Alt. Buckeyes junior defensive end J.T. Tuimoloau could be a top-15 pick in the spring. Alt faced a similar prospect last season, not giving up a pressure to Clemson defensive end Myles Murphy on 15 snaps matched up against each other. Worth noting: Murphy went No. 28 in the NFL draft.

There is an easy way to judge the veracity of a 2024 mock draft right now: Is Alt in the top 15? If not, find a more in-touch analyst.

Not much else needs to be said here. If Alt is looking at a top-15 projection, and that is on the low end, no one in South Bend should try to dissuade him from jumping to the NFL. Tosh Baker or Blake Fisher should assuage most 2024 worries about the left tackle position.

Some pieces of context to Notre Dame left tackles in the NFL draft to remember when Alt hears his name called:

2014: Four-year starter Zack Martin goes No. 16 overall.
2016: Two-year starting left tackle Ronnie Stanley goes No. 6 overall.
2018: Two-year starting left tackle Mike McGlinchey goes No. 9 overall.
2021: Three-year starting left tackle Liam Eichenberg goes No. 42 overall.

The summer countdown begins anew, Rylie Mills to Deion Colzie
No. 99 Rylie Mills, senior defensive tackle, moving back inside from end
No. 98 Devan Houstan, early-enrolled four-star defensive tackle
No. 97 Gabriel Rubio, junior defensive tackle, one of three Irish DTs with notable experience
No. 95 Tyson Ford, sophomore defensive tackle, up 30 pounds from a year ago
No. 92 Aidan Keanaaina, a senior defensive tackle now ‘fully healthy’ after a 2022 torn ACL
No. 91 Aiden Gobaira, sophomore defensive end, former four-star recruit
No. 90* Brenan Vernon, incoming freshman defensive end, four-star recruit
No. 90* Boubacar Traore, incoming freshman defensive end, four-star recruit
No. 88 Mitchell Evans, the next starter at ‘TE U’
No. 86* Cooper Flanagan, incoming freshman tight end, four-star recruit
No. 85 Holden Staes, sophomore tight end, up 20 pounds in a year
No. 84 Kevin Bauman, senior tight end coming off a torn ACL
No. 83 Jayden Thomas, junior receiver, probable No. 1 target in 2023
No. 79 Tosh Baker, senior tackle, again a backup but next year …
No. 78 Pat Coogan, junior interior offensive lineman
No. 77 Ty Chan, sophomore offensive tackle, former four-star recruit
Rhode Island transfer safety Antonio Carter gives Notre Dame desperately needed backline depth
Penn State RB transfer Devyn Ford gives Notre Dame newly-needed backfield depth, experience

Notre Dame 99-to-0: No. 77 Ty Chan, sophomore offensive tackle, former four-star recruit

Ty Chan Notre Dame

Listed measurements: 6-foot-5, 310 pounds.
2023-24 year, eligibility: A sophomore, Chan has all four seasons of eligibility remaining.
Depth Chart: Chan might crack the two-deep as the backup to junior Blake Fisher at right tackle, conceivably competing with classmate Aamil Wagner for that theoretical honor. “Theoretical” because the practical backup to Fisher would more likely be senior Tosh Baker, though Baker will not be listed as No. 2 at both left and right tackle.
Recruiting: Chan’s low-maintenance recruitment fit both an offensive lineman prospect and a Massachusetts product, turning down Boston College, Penn State and Syracuse when he committed to Notre Dame more than a year before he could sign his National Letter of Intent. The No. 11 offensive tackle and No. 221 overall prospect in the class, per, Chan never wavered in that lengthy commitment.

Chan did not see the field as a freshman.


When new Irish offensive line coach Joe Rudolph twice mentioned Baker getting work at guard this spring, it sparked a thought that perhaps Chan and/or Wagner was impressing at tackle. At this point, that is nothing more than a sparked thought, but it is something to keep in mind if Baker again works on the interior in preseason practices.

“Vague expectations show Chan as a reserve at right tackle in 2022, putting him behind sophomore Blake Fisher and junior Tosh Baker, though if injuries were to tear through the line (again), junior Michael Carmody would find his way onto the field long before Chan.

“Which is to say, Chan should enjoy the typical freshman season that Fisher and Joe Alt did not in 2021. He will work on his technique under (former Irish offensive line coach Harry) Hiestand’s tutelage, more of a need for this class than perhaps any other after so many of their 2020 seasons, their junior seasons, were turned upside down by the pandemic.

“Chan has much of the lower body muscle one would want from a collegiate offensive tackle, but his upper body still needs to develop some punch. Working in the strength and conditioning program will also benefit him.

“One thing neither Heistand nor strength coordinator Matt Balis will need to worry much about is Chan’s footwork. Assuredly, some of his exact steps may need fine-tuning, but someone able to deftly move around the post in a basketball game usually takes well to the exact steps at tackle. Exhibit A: Ronnie Stanley.”

Chan’s 2023 should look much like his 2022, though a spot on the travel roster and perhaps some special teams protection work could be added to his portfolio. Otherwise, it would take a rash of injuries to move Chan past not only Alt and Fisher but also Baker and senior Carmody, a one-time starter at tackle during the 2021 rash of injuries.

This is the typical track of an offensive line prospect; Alt and Fisher are the exceptions that prove the rule. Chan lost his junior season of high school football to the pandemic, and he comes from rather infertile preps territory in Massachusetts. Developing the fundamentals of pass blocking against collegiate defensive linemen should be atop his priority list for the time being, and that is exactly what scout-team work is for.

Furthermore, Chan appeared to have some wrist or arm injury at the end of spring practices. If that is something that has plagued him this summer or continues to, that could knock him a step backward in development, particularly behind Wagner.

All of which is to say, Chan may provide Notre Dame depth in 2023, but little more.

Alt will be in the NFL next season. Fisher might be, but that is not the same certainty. If only one starting gig is available, Baker will get the first shot at it and with a decent runway. But after him, Chan and Wagner will be competing with incoming freshman Charles Jagusah.

That same trio should be the primary challengers for both starting gigs in 2025, when Fisher should be in the NFL and Baker will be out of eligibility.

Such a timeline is, again, the usual for an offensive line prospect and why Chan can spend the short-term focusing on his fundamentals.

The summer countdown begins anew, Rylie Mills to Deion Colzie
No. 99 Rylie Mills, senior defensive tackle, moving back inside from end
No. 98 Devan Houstan, early-enrolled four-star defensive tackle
No. 97 Gabriel Rubio, junior defensive tackle, one of three Irish DTs with notable experience
No. 95 Tyson Ford, sophomore defensive tackle, up 30 pounds from a year ago
No. 92 Aidan Keanaaina, a senior defensive tackle now ‘fully healthy’ after a 2022 torn ACL
No. 91 Aiden Gobaira, sophomore defensive end, former four-star recruit
No. 90* Brenan Vernon, incoming freshman defensive end, four-star recruit
No. 90* Boubacar Traore, incoming freshman defensive end, four-star recruit
No. 88 Mitchell Evans, the next starter at ‘TE U’
No. 86* Cooper Flanagan, incoming freshman tight end, four-star recruit
No. 85 Holden Staes, sophomore tight end, up 20 pounds in a year
No. 84 Kevin Bauman, senior tight end coming off a torn ACL
No. 83 Jayden Thomas, junior receiver, probable No. 1 target in 2023
No. 79 Tosh Baker, senior tackle, again a backup but next year …
No. 78 Pat Coogan, junior interior offensive lineman
Rhode Island transfer safety Antonio Carter gives Notre Dame desperately needed backline depth
Penn State RB transfer Devyn Ford gives Notre Dame newly-needed backfield depth, experience

300-pound defensive tackle Sean Sevillano joins Notre Dame class of 2024

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Notre Dame added its second defensive lineman commitment in two weeks with the Friday announcement from consensus three-star defensive tackle Sean Sevillano (Clearwater Academy; Fla.). The massive interior prospect is the first defensive tackle to join the Irish class of 2024.

And “massive” might not be saying enough. At 6-foot-2, Sevillano weighs more than 300 pounds. Keep in mind, he has yet to start his senior year of high school.

And while he is big, Sevillano does not play slow. If there is a hole in the offensive line protection, he is quick enough to get up the field and bother the quarterback, logging 22 sacks last season. If there is not a hole, his sheer size is likely to create one.

He uses his body weight to bring down ball carriers, content to drop his weight on them and force them to consider moving forward with 300 added pounds rather than using that force to knock through them. While that is an example of his size as an asset, some college running backs will be able to shimmy out of that trap or strong enough to even carry him for an extra yard, so some discipline to actively tackle will need to be developed.

In a similar respect, Sevillano’s size represents raw potential. He is already clearly strong, but if more of his frame becomes devoted to muscle, he could become a genuine collegiate force.

How much of that size and frame is immediately functional may determine if Sevillano is a day-one contributor for Notre Dame in 2024. Starting tackles Rylie Mills and Howard Cross both have eligibility through 2024, but both could also consider the NFL draft after this season. Cross, in particular, will be a multi-year starter and would be a sixth-year veteran in 2024; it may simply be time for him to move on. There are other players between Sevillano and Cross, namely current junior Gabriel Rubio and sophomore Donovan Hinish, but none with a bounty of experience. Furthermore, no defensive line rotation can ever be too deep. If Sevillano arrives on campus as a hard body to move, a situational role in goal-line packages could await him, but if he arrives as needing conditioning work above all else, it could be a season on the scout team while suffering under strength coordinator Matt Balis’s tutelage.

Sevillano chose Notre Dame over finalists Ohio State, Auburn and Miami, becoming the 17th Irish commitment and the fourth defensive lineman, following consensus four-star end Loghan Thomas’s pledge last week.

Notre Dame’s class of 2024 now ranks No. 3 in the country, behind only Georgia (with 16 commits) and Michigan (17), though not behind the Wolverines by much. Ohio State and Oregon loom at Nos. 5 and 6 with just 13 and 14 commitments, respectively.

Those team rankings will obviously continue to fluctuate plenty between now and the December signing period, but spending a second straight summer in the top five should reflect only well on Marcus Freeman’s continued recruiting emphasis.