Anyone who follows a Notre Dame football coach has probably gotten at least a glimpse of the Program’s St. Patrick’s day marketing campaign where the Notre Dame football coaches promised to deliver a “Pot of Gold.”
Highschool prospects across the country received that “pot of gold” in the form of offers, but Marcus Freeman and the defensive staff delivered a gift to the fans this afternoon when unanimous four-star linebacker Joshua Burnham chose Notre Dame over Michigan.
Burnham is ranked the no. 115 overall prospect in the class of 2022, and the 9th best outside LB according to 247. Rivals also has Burnham as a top 150 prospect.
Hailing from Traverse City, MI, Burnham grew up a Michigan fan, but Marcus Freeman developed a strong relationship with him over their shared experience as Linebackers. Freeman was able to convince Burnham to keep an open mind.
Burnham as a prospect
Listed at 6’4 215 pounds would say a lot about Burnham as a prospect alone, but it leaves out that he’s an elite athlete for his size. Burham plays both ways for the Traverse City Trojans as well as being a standout in Basketball.
Somewhat recently, Urban Meyer talked about how important it was for a recruit to play multiple sports versus focusing solely on football. The reason being it shows their competitiveness as well as their athletic versatility.
It seems like Notre Dame has also adopted this approach, as a lot of their current players and recruits have this in common. Clark Lea was impressed with JOk’s ability on a basketball court, and 2021 WR Jayden Thomas will also be playing baseball for the Irish.
Burham should be a piece that Freeman uses in many ways, whether it be as a pass rusher or in coverage. His athletic versatility will make him a candidate to see the field early.
Impact on Recruiting
The Irish currently have the #4 class in 247’s 2022 rankings, and Burnham certainly helped that. Marcus Freeman has landed 3 top 300 recruits on the defensive side of the ball, proving his reputation as a recruiter.
Notre Dame can’t let its foot off the gas. The Irish had one of the best 2021 classes early in the process, but a few big misses led to them finishing at 9 for 2021.
The 9th ranked class is certainly nothing to turn noses up at, and the coaching staff should be proud of what it did, but this is the time to go to the next level.
Marcus Freeman gives Notre Dame the chance to crack the top 5. Clark Lea was an excellent coach, but, based on Freeman’s early returns, it looks like Notre Dame has upgraded its defensive recruiting. Freeman has proven quickly that he can be one of the best recruiters in the nation.
Brian Kelly’s staff did an excellent job of acquiring high-end skill guys in the 2021 cycle, but they need to put a strong focus on getting good skill in every class. The gap between ND and the Alabamas is no longer in the trenches but on the boundaries.
Notre Dame’s St. Patrick’s day campaign is something new and really cool to see the staff thinking outside the box a little. Hopefully, it can lead to a few more big-name commitments.