Class of 2021: Offense/Special Teams
Observer Sports Staff | Friday, February 5, 2021
JOE ALT (@JoeAlt7)
6’7” • 270
Totino-Grace High School
Alt chose Notre Dame over seven other Division I schools, including Wisconsin, Iowa, Stanford and the local University of Minnesota. The choice came down to Iowa, Minnesota and Notre Dame, with Alt eventually choosing the Irish.
Alt, a three-star prospect, was originally recruited as a tight end, but the Notre Dame coaching staff believe he is better suited as a tackle. Alt’s father, John — an Iowa alum — made the same switch from tight end to offensive tackle in college before becoming a two-time Pro Bowl selection with the Kansas City Chiefs.
Due to this switch in position, Alt is not ranked by Rivals.com. He joins Blake Fisher, Rocco Spindler, Caleb Johnson and Pat Coogan in Notre Dame’s 2021 offensive line class.
CANE BERRONG (@CaneBerrong)
6’4” • 225
Hart County High School
Notre Dame won a fierce recruiting battle when it managed to convince Berrong to sign, beating out college football powerhouses such as Oklahoma, Alabama and Clemson in the race to secure the three-star Georgia native’s signature. Berrong joins an impressive recent lineage of Notre Dame tight ends, with names such as Tyler Eifert, Kyle Rudolph and Cole Kmet scattered throughout the NFL.
Berrong is the 35th-ranked tight end in the nation and the 46th-ranked player in Georgia, per Rivals. After going for 41 receptions, 390 yards and three touchdowns as a junior, Berrong posted 26 receptions for 305 yards and four scores in his final high school season.
Standing at 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds, Berrong fits the size profile of recent Irish tight end Tommy Tremble, providing versatility as both a route runner and blocker. He’ll attempt to make some headway as an early enrollee in a tight end group that, while highly talented, loses two starting caliber players in Tremble and Brock Wright.
JOSHUA BRYAN (@Bryan9Joshua)
6’1” • 185
Sierra Canyon School
The Irish brought a second scholarship kicker into the fold by signing Bryan, the sixth-best kicker in the nation, per 247Sports Composite. Bryan’s field goal range extends beyond 60 yards, but his accuracy has room for improvement after going 8-14 on field goals as a junior and 11-19 as a senior.
Bryan’s athleticism, displayed through his time playing linebacker in high school, sets him apart from other kicking prospects. He recorded 4.0 sacks and more than 120 tackles during his sophomore year.
Though he will likely sit behind established kicker Jonathan Doerer on next season’s depth chart, Bryan spurned an immediate starting spot at the University of Colorado for a chance to play for the Blue and Gold. He could immediately serve as a kickoff specialist to spell Doerer, as he has shown the ability to eclipse four seconds of hang time.
TYLER BUCHNER (@tylerbuchner)
6’2” • 210
Helix Charter High School
La Mesa, Calif.
In December, Notre Dame signed four-star quarterback Tyler Buchner, the No. 6-ranked dual-threat quarterback in the country, per Rivals. He chose the Fighting Irish over 15 other offers, including archrival USC, Georgia and Alabama.
Buchner transferred to Helix for his senior season, but never took the field for the Scotties as California delayed high school football to the spring. Even so, Buchner had a breakout junior season at the Bishop’s School, just one year removed from tearing his ACL in the 2018 season opener.
In his first full season as a starting quarterback, Buchner completed 66% of his passes while throwing for 4,474 yards and 53 touchdowns. He also carried the ball 128 times, gaining another 1,610 yards and 28 more scores.
With incumbent starter Ian Book leaving, rising junior Brendon Clark, rising sophomore Drew Pyne and Wisconsin graduate transfer Jack Coan sit ahead of him, but it will be interesting to see how Buchner fares in spring camp as an early enrollee.
DEION COLZIE (@almightydeion_)
6’4” • 205
Notre Dame landed Colzie, a four-star wide receiver from Athens Academy, not once, but twice. According to Rivals, Colzie is regarded as the No. 20 wide receiver in the country and the 11th-highest rated player in the state of Georgia.
Colzie recommitted to the Irish this past September after de-committing in March, choosing them (again) over the likes of Alabama, Florida, Michigan and the hometown Bulldogs of Georgia. He recorded more than 30 receptions in each of the last two seasons for a combined 20 touchdowns.
Colzie joins a highly touted Irish receiver class along with standouts Lorenzo Styles Jr. and fellow Georgian Jayden Thomas.
PAT COOGAN (@coogs53)
6’5” • 300
Marist High School
Coogan, a three-star offensive line recruit from Chicago, committed to Notre Dame back in April. At 6-foot-5 and 300 pounds, his prowess on the gridiron earned him 29 offers before he chose to head to South Bend. During high school he played for Marist High School, earning the distinction of being the sixth-ranked player in the state of Illinois, according to Rivals.
Coogan is projected to be an offensive guard, but has the size and versatility to fill various spots along the offensive line for Notre Dame. Furthermore, the young offensive lineman has experience playing the type of hard-nosed rushing attack that Notre Dame typically uses. As a junior in 2019, the Marist offense averaged 169.5 yards per game on the ground to go along with 24 rushing touchdowns.
LOGAN DIGGS (@logandiggs3)
6’0” • 191
Archbishop Rummel High School
In Logan Diggs, the Irish add another capable running back to what is already a deep position group. Diggs, a product of Archbishop Rummel High School in Metairie, La., is listed as a three-star recruit and the 19th-best running back in his class by Rivals. He has good size at 6-foot and 190 pounds and uses that to his advantage as a powerful runner.
Diggs is also a solid blocker and pass catcher out of the backfield, posting 18 receptions for 155 yards and two touchdowns as a senior. He led Archbishop Rummel to the 2019 state championship and was named the 2020 Class 5A Outstanding Offensive Player by the Louisiana Sports Writers Association.
Diggs will likely have to wait to find consistent playing time, as he is currently behind the likes of Kyren Williams and Chris Tyree, among others, but has the tools to eventually be a top running back for the Irish. After sticking with the Irish despite nearly flipping to in-state LSU on National Signing Day, he seems to have both patience and faith that he will become a key contributor in a loaded running back room.
AUDRIC ESTIME (@AudricEstime)
6’0” • 215
St. Joseph Regional High School
The Irish add another talented playmaker to an already crowded running back room by signing Audric Estime. The four-star recruit is rated as the No. 6 running back nationally and the No. 3 running back in New Jersey by Rivals.
Estime has showed impressive speed and elusiveness for a back his size, while also flashing some potential as a pass-catcher. He racked up more than 2000 all-purpose yards and found the end zone 24 times in his senior season while averaging 9.8 yards a carry.
Estime originally committed to Michigan State in September but flipped his commitment to Notre Dame in December. He will likely sit and learn in his first year with the Irish behind upperclassmen Kyren William, Chris Tyree and C’Bo Flemister.
MITCHELL EVANS (@mitch14football)
6’7” • 240
Wadsworth High School
The three-star Evans will join a deep group of tight ends in South Bend. Evans chose the Irish over 23 other Division I schools, including Florida State, Michigan State, Iowa State, West Virginia and Cincinnati.
Evans will return to his original position of tight end at Notre Dame after playing quarterback during his senior season, compiling 2,131 passing yards and 25 touchdowns. As a junior in 2019, Evans caught 19 passes for 306 yards and seven touchdowns, and he totaled seven rushing scores over the past two seasons.
Rivals ranks Evans as the 26th-best tight end in the class of 2021 and the 18th-best prospect coming out of Ohio. Rising Irish sophomore Michael Mayer is the clear top tight end for the Irish this upcoming season, but the 6-foot-7, 240-pound Evans may be a versatile future contributor.
BLAKE FISHER (@bfisher54)
6’6” • 330
Avon High School
At least in the recruiting sense, Notre Dame defended home turf and the distinction of being “O-Line U” with the signing of Avon, Ind. offensive tackle Blake Fisher, the consensus highest-ranked player in the state according to Rivals, ESPN and 247sports. Rivals has the 6-foot-6, 330-pound Fisher as the 6th-best offensive lineman and 25th-ranked player overall nationally.
After paving the way for an Avon rushing attack that mustered 136.4 yards per game and 16 touchdowns during his senior season, Fisher was named one of three finalists for Mr. Football Indiana. He also earned an invite to the now-canceled 2021 U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio.
Fisher is one of 14 early enrollees for the Irish this spring and will look to make an early impression along an offensive line that must replace four starters.
CALEB JOHNSON (@CalebJohnson70)
6’7” • 290
Trinity Catholic High School
Originally committed to the Auburn Tigers before de-committing on Nov. 19 to join the Fighting Irish the same day, Caleb Johnson is a 6-foot-7, 295-pound offensive tackle from Trinity Catholic High school. He is also the son of former Ball State and NFL offensive lineman Aaron Johnson.
The younger Johnson, a 4-star recruit, is the No. 33 offensive tackle and No. 50 player in the state of Florida, per Rivals. His honors include an Ocala Star-Banner All-County first-team selection as a junior for helping to create a 2,200-yard rusher and make the regional finals of the 3A class, and a MaxPreps Preseason All-State Second-Team offense selection before this past season. He would lead Trinity to the class 3A state semifinals in 2020.
Johnson figures to redshirt his freshman season in a Notre Dame offensive line room chock-full of talent, but he’ll get a jump start on his studies and in the weight room as an early enrollee this spring.
RON POWLUS III (@RonPowlus)
6’3” • 230
Penn High School
Continuing to add to their arsenal of quarterbacks, the Irish gained a second signal caller from the Class of 2021 in Ron Powlus III. Hailing from local Mishawaka, Ind., Powlus is rated as a three-star recruit by Rivals.
Powlus played football for Penn High School in Mishawaka and garnered offers from Bowling Green, Central Michigan, Indiana State, Kentucky and Yale before signing on with the Irish on Dec. 16. As a sophomore, Powlus won MVP at the Rivals Camp in St. Louis, but a Lisfranc injury during his junior season dampened his recruiting prospects.
Powlus, the son of former Notre Dame quarterback and current associate athletics director Ron Powlus, will bring depth to a quarterback room with numerous question marks aside from Wisconsin transfer Jack Coan. He will help to sort out that position group immediately as an early enrollee.
ROCCO SPINDLER (@RoccoSpindler92)
6’5” • 315
Clarkston High School
Notre Dame adds another top offensive lineman in four-star recruit Rocco Spindler. Spindler was a four-year starter on both sides of the ball at Clarkston High School and was also a top heavyweight wrestler.
He started every game of his high school career and did not allow a single sack. Spindler was a two-time All-American (2020 Under Armour, 2018 MaxPreps) and three-time first time all-state. He was also named the 2020 Anvil award winner, given to Michigan’s top offensive lineman or linebacker.
The son of Pittsburgh alum and nine-year NFL veteran Marc Spindler, Rocco projects as an offensive guard with elite size and is ranked as the top guard in his class by ESPN. He will enroll early in the spring and look to make some headway at possibly starting at a guard spot as a true freshman.
LORENZO STYLES JR. (@LorenzoStyles3)
6’1” • 170
Pickerington High School Central
Central Ohio standout Styles committed to Notre Dame in October 2019 over his father’s alma mater, Ohio State, and 21 other strong offers, and formally signed with the Irish during the early signing period in December. The four-star recruit out of Pickerington Central who, in addition to football, ran track in high school, will add speed to the Irish offense at wide receiver and possibly the punt return game.
Following his nine-touchdown senior year, Styles was named First Team All-State as well as Ohio Co-Offensive Player of the Year. He led Pickerington Central to back-to-back state championship appearances, scoring the game-winning touchdown in 2019.
Styles is currently ranked as the No. 6 wide receiver and No. 51 player nationally by Rivals, and is set to become the highest-ranked slot receiver that Notre Dame has signed since the rankings service began rating recruits in 2002. He will be joining the Irish this spring as an early enrollee.
JAYDEN THOMAS (@jgpt333)
6’2” • 205
A two-sport athlete who intends to play both collegiate football and baseball, Jayden Thomas will bring physicality and versatility to the Notre Dame wide receiver corps. A standout wide receiver and safety for Pace Academy in Atlanta, Thomas committed to the Fighting Irish in October, rounding out Notre Dame’s 3-man wide receiver recruiting class in 2021. He passed over offers from 22 other schools including Alabama, Georgia, Michigan and Penn State.
Ranked as a four-star recruit and the No. 47 wide receiver prospect in the nation according to Rivals, Thomas reeled in 25 receptions for 399 yards and five touchdowns during his senior season at Pace. A smooth route-runner with the ability to gain extra yards after the catch, Thomas will enroll at Notre Dame in June.