Notre Dame Football Signing Day 2018: The Sleepers

Every year I like to pick a handful of my favorite players who aren’t as highly touted, but I think have bright futures. This is my third signing day, and my best pick in this column is Julian Love, who signed in 2016, my first season writing for UHND. He’s heading into his third season as a starter, will likely be a captain, and pre-season All-American.

In short, he worked out. Hopefully some of these players follow the same career path.

Braden Lenzy, Wide Receiver

Lenzy is actually borderline because he’s a pretty solid four star player, and I usually reserve this space for three star players. But, his composite national ranking is #215 per 247, and I think we will look back after his first two seasons thinking this guy was an elite talent that people didn’t talk enough about. He’s most known for his speed, but his transformation into a physical runner with the ball in his hands shifts the way he should be thought about as a prospect. At first, he was more like a less explosive Will Fuller. Now, he is more like a more explosive and bigger Golden Tate (although, he may not have the magical hands Tate possessed).

People mention Lenzy’s speed for good reason, he’s the defending Oregon state 100 and 200 meter champion. Don’t be surprised to see him return the opening kickoff against Michigan to open the 2018 season.

Tommy Tremble, Tight End

Fanfare around Tremble and his recruitment was muted in 2017 because of a knee injury that ended his season in his first game of the year. Obviously, when you enter the year somewhat under the radar, and then lose your season altogether, it’s hard to generate a lot of buzz. But, Tremble is a tremendous athlete with plenty of pedigree and supposedly ran a faster 40 time in one of the preseason combines than that of five star receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown, who was at the same event. Maybe that’s a little bit of shenanigans, but his athleticism is apparent when you watch him play. Could he be the type of tight end that Alize Mack has struggled to become? I think he can.

He’s big at 6-4, he’s physical, very comfortable catching the ball, and really good with the ball in his hands. Plus, he’s a guy who held offers from Michigan, Georgia, Auburn, and UCLA. Per 247, he’s the 20th ranked tight end in the 2018 class. That seems not entirely high enough.

Ja’Mion Franklin, Defensive Tackle

I’ll just put it like this, I like him better than any of the guys Notre Dame signed along the defensive line last season, and they signed some pretty good players in 2017. He’s got great burst off the line, it’s actually striking, and he’s pretty agile for a guy of his size (6-1, 295). He earned a place at The Opening Finals in Oregon in the pre-season and he acquitted himself well against some of the best offensive linemen in the country.

He’s listed as the 566th player in the country, but he’s actually risen about 300 spots since the end of junior season when he was considered a two star player and not really on anyone’s radar. He also received offers from Florida State, Michigan, Penn State, and Wisconsin. Not really a 500th player in the country type of offer list.

C’Bo Flemister, Running Back

At first glance, Flemister was an obvious candidate for a panic offer after Notre Dame lost two running backs following the Citrus Bowl. It’d be very easy to dismiss him as just a body. I have to say, after watching his film, I really don’t think that’s the case. I’m not a professional talent evaluator or anything, but I’m just really impressed with his game. He has a natural feel for the holes opening up, is shifty, has good burst, and was incredibly productive as a high school runner. He’s obviously not going to have incredible measurables or a great 40 time, if he did he wouldn’t be a low three star player. But, another running back from Georgia who wasn’t a physical marvel who worked out pretty well at Notre Dame was Darius Walker. I’m not saying he’ll be Walker, but he’s not a throwaway either. I think we’re all going to be pleasantly surprised.

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  1. SFR and Duranko, I love both of you guys. You’re lambastings of each other are monumental as far as I am concerned. You both seem to have special knowledge about Notre Dame and its players so to both of you I say…right on and Go Irish!

    1. “Doc,”

      I hope I just put our “lambastings” to an end with an appeal to “Duranko” to demonstrate what he claims is his Catholic faith by his works. We’ll see if he accepts to establish his faith in charity or opts for the Protestant option of appealing to abstract belief alone!

      I’ve tried in the past with so many on here to offer olive branches only to have them shoved back in my face, “Doc”.

      So let’s see if approaching Lent softens hearts and opens minds.

      Peace to you!

  2. Ja’ Mion Franklin reminds of Chris Zorich. Could be our first Outland Winner since Ross Browner.
    My Dad decided to coach our Catholic little league team. At a practice a couple of kids got into it. My Dad broke them up and said, save your best stuff when you go to the Catholic high school and then beat up on the public schools.
    I come to this site to learn from such learned Notre Damers , SFR, Duranko, Bruce Gregory Churme, Southside, NDcrazyMike, Positive Pete.

  3. Read my lips “Duranko”:

    I could care less to read your lips or what spews forth from sinful soul, you pompous, self-righteous hypocrite!

    You’re nothing, man. You’re not even a true ND fan. You don’t care to see ND football great again. All you care is having this little forum to ramble on and on and belittle those who disagree with you.

    You know what you are, bogus fan? The flip side of “David.” Both are hate-filled souls who know no other way to reason but by insult.

    1. Well, have it your way Rob. And, once again, I thank you for confessing my sins.
      This is quite the time saver as it relieves me of the obligation of doing it my self!

      But here is what you have to deal with: There is a burr under your saddle about the SEC. Was it you, or someone else from Florida Atlantic
      who once called it the “Special Education Conference.” That was very intriguing, given the long history of Notre Dame athletics, including the
      football team and the Logan Center in South Bend. Further, I think that America’s land grant college have a mission far different from Notre Dame’s. They are both secular and in
      the business of providing as many qualified students of a state as possible a fair shot at a degree. I respect that, and understand that that involves some admission requirements,
      majors and course requirements that are vastly different from a private school like Notre Dame.

      Here is the fundamental question: if a kid just wants the NFL, and is a dyed-in-the-wool three and outer, who, by research and due diligence,
      has been found to be lackadaisacal with study habits and and classroom attentiveness, should Notre Dame SEDUCE, cajole and entreat
      that kid to come to Notre Dame when the judgement of the reasonable minds on the staff, football coaching, Peloquin and the lads and Adam Sargent, is overwhelmingly that
      he has a very high risk of failure.

      That’s the question.

      The second is this:

      You said in your prior post that Notre Dame should dispose of some traditions in order to win a national championship.

      Now,Rob, dazzle me with your acumen, specifically, what are those traditions which Notre Dame must discard?

      1. Hail, Self-appointed ND Grand Inquisitor!

        Since you seem dazzled only by your own self-styled acumen, father of lies, I won’t bother.

        I see you fail once again to show any original thought or critical thinking. So be i!

        So I’ll make this as easy as possible for you, self-appointed ND Caiaphas: ND has already sacrificed sacred cows in the past for the sake of its football program. ND admitted marginally academic athletes under Holtz.

        ND need not become Alabama. But your delusional to think it can compete against Bama trying to be Harvard, “Duranko”!

        The SEC is commonly lampooned in certain media and public forums as the “Special Ed Conference.” Look it up on this thing called the internet! I didn’t invent it!

        You seem to think it’s not PC to say that. Given the amount of un-PC things said by you and others on here over the years I truly find that ironic!

        Can I suggest something to you, “Duranko”? How about for Lent we abstain from personal insults and instead offer our mutual blessings for the other as holocausts pleasing to the Lord?!

        Pax vobis!

  4. ND came very close to being in the final 4 teams this year. That was accomplished with a brand new QB, and a backup who had never taken a snap. A brand new defense was installed. We had a lot of less experienced players step in and step up and we played one of the toughest schedules in the country. Our exerience deficit, familiarity with defense, and inexperience in certain areas cost us some games. There was a tendency to be too predictable on offensive play calling late in the season. We certainly demonstrated the ability to ‘compete and beat’ with the SEC. No coach of any team we played got a good nights sleep the day before his team played us and most of those coaches had nightmares the night after. It is true our first start QB only produced THIRTY TDs, and our ‘backup’ QB only tossed 2 TD passes in a half against then 9-3 LSU. Too, notwithstanding the considerable efforts of the coaches, staff and team mates, Kevin Stepherson, a potential All American receiver managed to self immolate and that is a big loss all around. However, we have at least three excellent receivers returning that have worked with
    both of our 2017 QBs. Coach Kelly has clearly established the need for evey team that plays us next
    year to prepare for two QBs. I wouldn’t be so quick to relegate ND football to the dust bin.

    1. Assuming “the final 4 teams” is the same thing as the college football playoffs, your first sentence is inaccurate. I get that the season ended on a positive note, but ND was eliminated from the CFP after losing to Miami by FIVE touchdowns. Then getting stomped by Stanford didn’t help matters any. There was nothing “very close” about it.

  5. One other thing about this coaching staff

    The speak “Southern”

    Joseph’s accent is pure gumbo. It will play all the way from Texas to the Georgia Coast.

    Chip Long, cocky as he is, has never lost all of that Alabama twang.

    Clark Lea is from Nashville and he has some Dixie in his Dialect.

    When these three guys are in the Deep South they won’t seem like Yankees or outsiders.

    We’ve gotten a guy from Louisiana each of the last two years, Michael Young and now Lawrence Keys. There may be more on the way.

  6. What is highly significant is that this depth now allows redshirting at key positions like WR, CB, S and LB.
    We’ve always been there at OL.

    But, in ’16, due to injury attrition and poor recruiting, Love, Pride, Vaugh, Elliot and Studstill played. Not a bloody one of them should have. They all should have redshirted and avoided playing while they still had bad habits.

    Notre Dame would survive and improve, by the mere addition of Alohi Gilman and the return of EVERYBODY ELSE, in ‘
    if they redshirted the entire 7 man DB class. Now, Allen and Griffith will force their way on to the field. So be it.

    In ’16 Okwara and Kareem played but they too should have redshirted. We are still one more DL class away from being able to redshirt Frosh DLS.

    At WR, this year, Michael Young played but Jafar Armstrong, despite showing promise, redshirted, as did the mysterious Javon McKinley. We may be able to redshirt one or more of the frosh WRS.

    This staff has done an amazing job in the last 425 days, after Hudson, Denbrock, Longo, Gilmore and Booker left.
    They held the ’17 class together, added some late surprises, inked 27 in ’18 and have three in the fold for ’19.
    They were on the precipice, but have walked back from it.

    We have experience on both sides of the football. Depth is building. This may get to be fun.

    Dine on Wolverine meat in September!

    1. Duranko , red shirting is good if the right circumstances are there. ND cannot afford red shirting freshmen—especially needed for 2018 campaign. As I look at the roster , I see freshmen playing a large role immediately –not 2019. The time is now. Get them in real live action now. Kelly states he is determined to change the losing ways from past Novembers. He states all players will be on notice to play in November. That means all hands on deck including freshmen from 2018 class. Here are my choices of fresmen that help in the cause at much needed positions. RB– C’Bo Flemister , Jahmir Smith , Tariq Bracy and one or two players on roster changed to an RB. Ya need back ups –two to spell starters Williams/Jones in game time and 2 in reserve in case of injuries. WR—freshmen Braden Lenzy , Kevin Austin , Micha Jones. O-line–freshmen John Dirksen , Cole Mabry. Quarterback– freshmen Phil Jurkovec. D-line Ja’mion Franklin , and the two Ademilola brothers. LB’s — fresmen Lamb , Simon , Bauer and Oghoufo. D-backs –corner or safety —freshmen Boykin , Houston Griffith , Tariq Bracy , Derrick Allen. The coaching staff needs to get these new kids ready to play and the other back ups /non starters to contribute in November.

      1. Forgot Jarret Patterson—let’s get this kid from the left coast in the mix—ready for November schedule. Hey Notre Dame coaching staff you want accolades for a top ten recruiting class—we’ll let’s live up to that ranking then.

      2. Well, Southside, let’s go position by position

        I agree on Flemister and Smith. They will play

        Bracy is tricky as there is speculation that Coleman will move to RB

        ON the OLS, I have a lot of hope in Ruhland, Lugg and Banks. Those three, with Eichenberg, Kramer and Hainsey
        joining Mustipher and Bars are enough to staff the “Playing” roster. Now when Nelson was a frosh he practiced as a 2d team OL
        and was ready, but they saved the year. That’s what they did with Lugg last year.

        So I expect that all four OL will redshirt.

        WR is tricky, and a lot depends on Canteen and McKinley. Will they be part of the rotation. I expect two
        of the Frosh WRS to play, two to redshirt.

        On the DL, i would be surprised if Justin Ademilola doesn’t redshirt. We have a fivesome of Hayes, Hayes, Kareem,
        Okwara and Ogundeji, and Wardlow may be better, right now than Justin is. that mandates a redshirt.

        AT cornerback, we have Pride,Love, Vaughn and Crawford. That’s a nice foursome.

        I fully expect Lamb, Simon, Griffith and Allen to play.

        With Tranquill and Coney as starters, with Jamir Jones, Jon Jones, White and Adams, that’s a three deep rotation with Lamb as a seventh, and i would guess that
        Bauer and Ovie would redshirt.

        What’s odd this year is that we lose only three significant defensive players, Morgan, Martini and Trumbetti.

        I can’t remember a year with such little defensive attrition.

        we shall see! It’ll be fun to keep this debate going, southside

  7. SFR, yeah the glory days are long gone, when we stomped on everyone. I got a laugh out of the lineman choosing Buckeyes cause of their Academic program. We have to be satisfied with an upset here and there. An occasional Bowl win about every ten years. We do have some quality players coming in. They may surprise even the most doubting Notre Dame fans with a National Championship, God forbid.

    1. Some very high quality players GK Money!!!!! It is a top ten class?. Let’s celebrate the fact that ND closed out signing day on a super duper high note???. I am as giddy as can be for spring practice!!! Who else is with me on that? It should be exciting to see some of the early enrollees. I think this class could take us back to the championship ???. GO IRISH!!!!!!!

  8. How sad the USC and Penn St., two programs that were supposed to be on their deathbeds, have been resuscitated thanks to the NCAA.

    ND, on the other hand, was severely punished for a very minor academic infraction that it self-reported.

    You have entire SEC programs that are de facto diploma mills and nothing ever happens to them!

    I’ve said it before, ND will never be able to compete consistently in the current climate. Football factories don’t care about academics.

    ND needs to do some real soul searching and decide what it wants from its football team. 8-10 wins and a second-tier bowl is doable. But NC?! Not the way things stand.

    The 1940s are long gone. Does ND want to play for titles in the 2020s? If so, some things will have to change. Some “traditions” may need to be sacrificed!


    1. you r right SFR URBAN MEYER told that to the administration when he interviewed for the HC in 2005!! HE said he would need to bring in at least 5/6 kids a year that wouldn’t meet the academic requirement. He was told they would not sacrifice their principals for football! Its been an uphill struggle since HOLTZ left! GO IRISH!

      1. That is a story is accurate according insiders who were there at the time. The version I heard was Xxxx asked for 4 or 5 “coaches choices” which Lou was said to have had. If he would have gotten them he would be our coach today.

    2. Real fans of Notre Dame, and the Board of Trustees and many of the CSC’s focus on Notre Dame. They are emotionally mature enough
      to know, and Catholic enough to know, that they get NOWHERE identifying and confessing the sins of others.

      You, Rob seem to want to burn other people’s houses to make your bigger.

      But you are NOT Notre Dame. You don’t support its values, its priorities. It is ignoble and intellectually slothful to attempt to conflate
      values and “traditions.”

      You get excited about SEC programs. Your circus your monkeys, not Notre Dame’s.

      You have USC and Penn State on their deathbeds. You live in a fantasy world, not reality.

      Read John Chapter 8 carefully, very carefully. You throw stones with a lot of frequency, casting them toward the entire SEC, all the way west to Los Angeles
      and up to Mount Nittany. Notre Dame does not.

      But read my lips:

      You and your baggage are not Notre Dame
      Notre Dame is not you.

      Per omnia saecula saeculorum.

    3. Pharisee “Duranko,”

      Your hateful bile speaks more about your spiritual state than do all your Latin platitudes.

      I have neither the desire nor the inclination to debate theology with you, you pharisee. Your own words speak to the nature of what you believe. All I’ll say to you is “Physician, heal thy self”!

      Now, what this imposter “Duranko” disagrees with me about is lost in the midst of his theological ramblings and hypocritical palaver.

      What did I say? Did I say ND should become a football factory? No. But no doubt that’s what the bogus “Duranko” read into my words due to his faulty reading skills and hate-filled prejudices.

      Did I intimate ND should just accept any recruit with a little speed and skill? No. But once more the hypocrite “Duranko” somehow believes that I did.

      What did I in fact say, “Judas Duranko”? That ND in the past has “sacrificed” its traditions to make itself more competitive.

      True or false, great bogus one, did ND not change its academic calendar to allow its football team to play in bowl games? Tradition sacrificed!

      True of false, you Pharisee among pharisees, did ND once not allow “redshirts”? Tradition sacrificed!

      True or false, ye mighty windbag, Did ND always allow for graduate transfers from other schools? Tradition sacrificed!

      True or false, you latter-day Simon Magus, did ND always play on fieldturf and pipe in artificial noise and play Ozzy Osbourne? Tradition sacrificed!

      True or false, you high priest of mendacity, did ND always have a training table for its football players? Tradition sacrificed!

      I could go on but I fear fake “Duranko”, a.k.a. bogus “Dick Arrington,” just doesn’t know enough about ND’s traditions to be able to follow along and would have to resort to his Protestant penchant of eisegesis or reading his own biases into texts.

      Moreover, it’s well-known that under Lou ND took a chance on more than one academically marginal athlete. Did ND sell its soul to the Devil, “Duranko”?

      You go on spouting hate and revealing your dark soul to those on here, though, “Dick”!

      One last thing, “Dick,” show me the papal bull making you the sole authority and arbiter of what is truly ND. I know in your pathetic, delusional world you think you’re something like a ND “pope.” Fortunately for us, you’re not!

      So, “Dick”, until such a time as you can provide us with your bona fides, you know what you can do with your self-righteous pontification!

      (BTW: What kind of insecure loser resorts to take on the dramatis personae of two deceased ND football legends! That doesn’t make what you say more credible, “Dick”!)

      1. This is an admittedly tough quiz. I will get back to you with my answers.
        Thank you as I do prefer T/F to essay questions.

  9. All in all a good recruiting year I think. It seems ND addressed some of their needs, sometimes that’s more important that the overall class, and they pulled in a top 10 class to boot.

    Now it’s all about how they develop on the field. We’ve had classes like this before and it hasn’t translated into success. I’d like to be cautiously optimistic but I’ve been burned too many times with that attitude. For now I’ll play the skeptic, but I’ll still hope for the best.

    Go Irish!

  10. What a day yesterday was for the Irish???. I feel like the cow who jumped over the moon!!!!!! All were great signings but I am going to have to say DJ Brown to me is the biggest addition. Don’t tell anyone ??? but this guy has superstar written all over him. I see a future All American in the making!!!!! Go Irish!!!!!

  11. I’m an old timer and not a domer but i wanted to throw this out there after NSD was over. One statistic that stood out for me was
    the USC class. Finished 3rd-4th is all team rankings, all were 4-5 stars and they only signed 18 players.
    I wasn’t shocked by this but, apparently USC has so much depth that they don’t need to sign 27 players (ND’s total). Yet i keep hearing
    that ND still has problems w/ depth at certain positions. REALLY ? The other issue is Markese Stepp. His academics were a problem
    for ND but not for USC. Plus ND is very thin at RB. This type of thing happens every year. ND seems to miss out on game changers,
    difference makers and 6’4″ speed burners due to academics ? Any thoughts on this ? I see this as a MAJOR hindrance to getting to the playoffs.

  12. Happy days are here again, We landed Jarrett Patterson out of Mission Viejo. He said He knows Notre Dame is the place for Him. It was a tug o’ war between two Coaches named Kelly.

    1. Great call GK Money!!!! I think Patterson is going to be a great addition!!!! Love the size of this guy on the line. Go IRISH!!!

  13. so much success is due to coaching putting players in the right spots, developing and using them correctly to maximize their skills and talent, game day preparation , in game udjustments, creative game playing like the eagles in the super bowl. Notre Dame has enough talent to play with anybody imo. The question is do they have the coaching?

    1. we have some intriguing litmus tests:

      flip flopping Bonner and Tillery
      moving Tranquill from Rover to Linebacker
      offensive line alignment
      quarterback development

      We’ll know soon enough

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