Marcus Freeman promised he would take the lead in recruiting and he delivered. In the week prior to the early signing day he logged over 8,000 miles and visited recruits in 14 states.
Some of the fruit of that labor arrived Wednesday morning as 21 national letters of intent trickled into the ND football office on the first day of the early signing period for the class of ’22. The class currently ranks as the 7th best nationally by 247 Sports, and is highlighted by an impressive haul of linebackers and offensive linemen. The group is also conspicuous for its lack of multiple wide receivers, an area of need in South Bend.
Despite the loss of three players who decommitted after Brian Kelly left the program, Marcus Freeman’s team actually faired better than other programs that changed their head coach. Oklahoma so far has signed a class of just 13 and lost a third of their class after Lincoln Riley moved to USC. Brian Kelly’s new home, LSU, has signed just 13 players. Oregon, who lost their head coach, Mario Cristobel to Miami, so far has signed just 7 players in a class that once included 19 commitments.
Oregon’s new head Coach Dan Lanning’s resume, interestingly, looks a bit like Marcus Freeman’s . Lanning is 35 years old and has never been a head coach. His most recent experience was as defensive coordinator at Georgia.
ND’s class includes three linebackers ranked in the top 14 nationally and is headlined by five star Jaylen Sneed, the overall 35th ranked player in the nation. The offensive line haul includes five prospects, four of whom are rated as four star talent. Both of these hauls are impressive and bode well for the future of the Irish in both areas. According to Pete Sampson at The Athletic The offensive line group includes as many top 30 recruits as the entire Big Ten and ACC conferences signed.
Also in the class is 6-3, 215 QB, Steve Angeli from Oradell, New Jersey who is rated as the 21st best quarterback prospect in the nation. At prep powerhouse Bergan Catholic High School during his just completed Senior season, Angeli led his team to a perfect 12-0 record and a state championship. On the season, he completed 116-170 passes (68%) good for 1,709 yards and 15 touchdowns. ND fans can get a look at him in the Under Armour All-American game on January 2.
Tobias Merriweather is the lone receiver in the class. At 6-4, 188 he is rated as a four star, top 100 prospect. Unfortunately for the Irish he is the lone receiver in the class. It will be critical for the Irish to bolster the position in the coming days. Look for them to bring in a graduate transfer or two, and to aggressively recruit current players, Avery Davis, Kevin Austin, Braden Lenzy and Joe Wilkins to return for their final years of eligibility. One other recruit, 6-6, 225 tight end Eli Raridon, is arguably the top prospect at his position nationally and could well team up with Michael Mayer next season to address the wide receiver shortage.
12 of the current 21 commitments are expected to enroll early and will participate in spring football.