No coach is going to criticize any signed recruit on National Signing Day, obviously, but what they choose to praise can shed some insight into each new prospect. When Notre Dame head coach Marcus Freeman repeatedly points out the versatility of four-star running back Jeremiyah Love, it speaks both to Love’s athleticism and the increasingly obvious Irish want for multi-dimensional running backs, a realization that can impact both how one view’s 2023 and future recruits.
When Notre Dame offensive coordinator mentions two receivers as college-ready, rather than all four receiver signees, then he has set a lofty standard for them right out of the gates in 2023.
Both as a functional usage of a pile of quotes from Wednesday’s start to the December signing period and as an efficient means to publication during a holiday weekend, let’s pull every quote from Freeman and Rees on the dozen Irish offensive signees in the recruiting class of 2023.
Rees on consensus four-star quarterback Kenny Minchey: “Quarterback recruiting is an imperfect science. We’re thrilled to have Kenny and his family be a part of Notre Dame.
“We went into the offseason last year with a group of guys that we were interested in, and Kenny had camped with us, so there was a relationship built there early on. Obviously, the ecosystem of the quarterback room is very important to us. That’s something we’re trying to uphold. We didn’t want to just add a guy to add a guy. We weren’t looking for somebody to come in and fill a number and just be that role. We want to always bring somebody in that we believe has the intangibles and the physical traits to compete here and be the guy.
“That’s what we found in Kenny. The more time we spend with him and his family, the more we know and believe that he’s the right guy to lead this class. He’s a guy that we look to in the future as someone that can lead our program.
“He’s a football junkie, which we love, and that’s something you learn as you spend time with him. An extremely talented kid.”
Notre Dame gets the letter: Consensus four-star QB Kenny Minchey, former Pittsburgh commit
More Rees on Minchey: “You’re looking at a guy that loves the game of football. I think that is so critical to that position. He is constantly talking about football, constantly monitoring and asking questions, doing those things, working at it. There’s a real work ethic and drive that are important at that position.
“When you care that much and have your work ethic be something that shines through at the quarterback position, that is going to earn the respect of your teammates right away, and that is going to drive your leadership position.”
Freeman on positional balance: “We addressed some positional needs. O-line, D-line and wide receiver. I think we took five O-linemen, four D-linemen and four wide receivers. That was important to us.”
Notre Dame gets the letters: Five offensive lineman signees continue Irish trend up front
Rees on those five offensive linemen and offensive line coach Harry Hiestand’s return to the recruiting trail: “The group of five we got personify what coach Hiestand is looking for in an offensive class and individuals. … You get around each guy, you really get around the families of each person, and you start to get a sense of exactly what it means to be an offensive lineman at Notre Dame. The character it takes, the mental makeup it takes, obviously coach’s success here has been well-documented and well-earned with the production he has had and the players he’s developed.
“You look at the mental makeup of these five and what they’re about, and they fall right in line with what we’re trying to build as a culture in that room.
“It’s great to see him spend time with those guys. He lights up and gets all excited. They’re the right kind of guys for coach. We’re excited to get them here, we’re really excited to get them here.”
Freeman on consensus four-star running back Jeremiyah Love: “He’s an extremely talented guy that does multiple different things. We wanted to address overall speed, and he’s a track kid that runs track but also does a lot of the jumps. He plays multiple positions on both sides of the ball. Obviously we’re looking at him at the running back position, but he can do multiple things well.
“He just brings unique talent to our offensive side of the ball.”
Notre Dame gets the letter: Consensus four-star running back Jeremiyah Love, No. 4 RB in the country
Rees on Love: “Jeremiyah is a huge priority. There’s a lot he can do. We have a really good running back room right now, but that doesn’t mean Jeremiyah can’t play early. Because you look at a guy that can help you in other facets of the game.
“He has a trait that coach Freeman talked about, and that’s speed. That’s something we were very eager to add.
“He has shown the ability to play outside and from the backfield.”
Freeman on consensus four-star receiver Rico Flores: “[Size] was a priority, size and speed. Production is probably the biggest thing we were looking for, making sure they were the right fit. We addressed those needs obviously with Rico. Extremely talented football player.
Rees on Flores: “I remember watching Rico Flores, there were some other guys out there, in my head being like, ‘Gosh, I hope we can reach this kid all the way out in Sacramento,’ and we did.
Rees on consensus four-star receiver Jaden Greathouse: “I remember watching Jaden Greathouse (pictured at top) his sophomore year and being like, ‘Gosh, what an unbelievable player as a young kid, he’d be great to coach.’ …
“You watch Greathouse do anything, the competitive nature in him really shows. Great basketball player. We played games on visits and all that, he’s out there competing, sweating, all that.”
Rees on both Flores and Greathouse: “You look at Greathouse and you look at Rico, you look at two guys that are pretty polished, guys that physically are probably able to come in and from a strength standpoint, compete. Guys that understand the nuisances of running routes, have a natural feel to them.”
Notre Dame gets the letters: Four receivers fill greatest Irish need
Freeman on consensus four-star receiver Braylon James: “Braylon James is out there in Austin and again just a talented, athletic, speed individual.”
Rees on James: “You look at guys like Braylon, a little bit like [current freshman Tobias Merriweather], very high ceiling, long, rangy, can run. Has a great frame, where you look like he’s going to add 10-15 pounds, he’s going to be a physical presence on the outside, but has the speed to really play out there.”
Freeman on consensus three-star receiver Kaleb Smith: “We really started recruiting [Smith] heavily after the start of the season, but the more time you spend with Kaleb and his family, the more time you get to know him, he’s a unique talent. Had gone through some injuries and then committed early in the process and kind of shut it down, but when he decided to open it up, I think we got us a special one in Kaleb Smith, too.”
Rees on Smith: “You look at KK, the smoothness with which he plays, the speed at which he plays is very deceiving. You go watch his senior stuff, and you’re like, this kid really slipped through the cracks, because he’s a national recruit.”
Notre Dame gets the letter: Consensus four-star tight end Cooper Flanagan
Rees on consensus four-star tight end Cooper Flanagan: “Coop, probably the one that doesn’t get talked about the most. He’s not a wideout body split out the whole time. His hand is in the dirt, he’s blocking a defensive end, he’s working a combination with the tackle. He splits out, he goes out for a real route tree.
“This isn’t a hybrid receiver that doesn’t want to put their hand in the ground. Exactly what he does translates to how he’s going to be utilized here at Notre Dame. … He knows how to do the things that are hard for young players, which is play in the box as a tight end, and that’s something he’s been asked to do and translates really well to our scheme.”
It's currently -1 in South Bend, -3 in Columbus and 2 in Ann Arbor.
College Football Playoff weather in a few years. pic.twitter.com/xWMS59WYLl
— Matt Freeman (@mattfreemanISD) December 23, 2022