The Fighting Irish finished with the #8 recruiting class in the country, according to 247 Sports, and brought in a plethora of young talent. Notre Dame returns a lot of production from a 9-win team a year ago and will add several crucial transfers. Although playing time will be hard to come by, numerous freshmen are still ready to contribute immediately.
- Position: Defensive End
- Rank: #18 Defensive Lineman & #145 Player Nationally (247 Sports)
- High School: Mentor in Mentor, Ohio
- Height/ Weight: 6’ 5”, 275 lbs
Al Golden’s defense can always utilize more talent off the bench for a fresh pass rush. Brenan Vernon has been compared to the Bosa and Watt brothers. Fans may see him join the Irish pass rush throughout the game because he already has the size to compete in week one.
- Position: Cornerback
- Rank: #10 Cornerback & #100 Player Overall (247 Sports)
- High School: DeSmet in Saint Louis, Missouri
- Height/ Weight: 6’ 0”, 175 lbs
Gray is one of the top cornerbacks in the country. Like Benjamin Morrison in 2022, Christian Gray can see action this fall and bolster the Irish Secondary. The talented cornerback considered LSU, Ohio State, and USC, but he eventually committed to Marcus Freeman and Notre Dame.
- Position: Wide Receiver
- Rank: #22 Wide Receiver & #133 Player Overall (247 Sports)
- High School: Westlake in Austin, Texas
- Height/ Weight: 6’ 2”, 220 lbs
Notre Dame lacked elite talent at the wide receiver position, and Jaden Greathouse had a tremendous career in high school. With the addition of Sam Hartman to the Irish Offense, the passing attack could benefit from the talent of Greathouse.
- Position: Linebacker
- Rank: #11 Linebacker & #156 Player Nationally (247 Sports)
- High School: University Lab in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
- Height/ Weight: 6’ 0”, 210 lbs
Ausberry was one of the highest-ranked recruits that Coach Marcus Freeman brought to this class. Notre Dame went into LSU’s backyard to get this tremendous linebacker. Even though Ausberry is not a projected starter, he could see action in a backup role in 2023.
- Position: Running Back
- Rank: #5 Running Back & #87 Player Overall (247 Sports)
- High School: Christian Brothers College in Saint Louis, Missouri
- Height/ Weight: 6’ 0”, 190 lbs
Tommy Rees has a great group of running backs headlined by Logan Diggs, Audric Estime, Jadarian Price, and Chris Tyree, but Jeremiyah Love may be too talented to keep off the field. There are several running backs on the depth chart, but Love could get touches early in the year.
Undoubtedly, players from each class step up earlier than anticipated, and recruiting rankings are not an exact science. Other freshmen that could see the field in 2023 include Boubacar Traore, Braylon James, Drayk Bowen, Micah Bell, and Rico Flores.
Notre Dame has added several key players in the transfer portal, limiting how often we see incoming freshmen on the field. Transfers are more physically developed and have the experience that coaches can’t teach.
Without a doubt, any freshmen can step up and contribute for the Fighting Irish this fall, but based on size, recruiting ranks, and overall positional needs for Notre Dame, these are the five players who stood out. Indeed, the offensive line is stacked by Harry Heistand, but other position groups are not as deep, and younger players can help instantly.
Players such as Benjamin Morrison, Blake Fisher, Joe Alt, Logan Diggs, and Tyler Buchner saw significant playing time when they were freshmen. It is rare that a freshman has a significant impact right away in today’s college football landscape, but it does happen. See Benjamin Morrison last year or Alt in 2021.
Whether or not these young athletes receive playing time this fall or in the future, Marcus Freeman has continued to take the recruiting of high school players and the transfer portal to new heights for the Fighting Irish. Notre Dame fans should be excited for the future of these student-athletes.