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Ladd: Morrison, Irish recruits solidify golden future of Notre Dame football

The future of Notre Dame football is in good hands. True freshman cornerback Benjamin Morrison has had a stunning season this year as a weapon for the defense. Morrison entered relatively unknown. However, he ended up seeing the field in every game and amassing five interceptions so far. His five interceptions are the most for an Irish freshman in at least the past 25 years. His total surpassed current Ravens’ safety Kyle Hamilton’s four in 2019. The five picks are also the most yearly for an Irish player ever since Manti Te’o intercepted seven in 2012. Both of these players go down in Notre Dame football history as some of the greats. Morrison looks like he could be on track to join them. 

Over Halloween weekend, Syracuse picked on Morrison early in the game as he gave up a touchdown and was called for pass interference. Nevertheless, he bounced back with a chip on his shoulder and began his trajectory toward possible freshman All-American status. Morrison broke out against Clemson with two interceptions, including one returned for a 96-yard touchdown. His effort slammed the door on any possible Tiger comeback and triggered a field-storming victory for the Irish. Head coach Marcus Freeman spoke highly of the Arizona native after his Clemson performance, speaking to his unique freshman status.  

“He’s an ultimate competitor that doesn’t get shaken,” Freeman said post-Clemson. “It’s really uncommon for a freshman to be like that.”

Morrison tacked on three more interceptions last weekend against Boston College, paving the way for the Notre Dame youth movement that will soon lead the Irish. 

Freeman recruiting makes waves

Freeman has shaken up the perceived norms on recruiting at Notre Dame by establishing a more aggressive attack on the recruiting trail. Previously, former head coach Brian Kelly instilled the mindset that Notre Dame’s recruiting targets were of a certain cookie-cutter caliber. Basically, Notre Dame felt they were not able to compete with the big boys such as Alabama or Ohio State. Freeman, on the other hand, has allowed that mindset to head south to the bayou. 

Freeman’s efforts have certainly paid dividends, as his 2023 class currently ranks No. 3  in the country behind perennial National Championship contenders Alabama and Georgia. He doesn’t seem to be having the same issues as Kelly did. 

Most recently, the Irish officially landed top 2023 quarterback recruit Kenney Minchey on Tuesday. Minchey de-committed from Pittsburgh to suit up for the Irish. Perhaps Morrison’s big break as a true freshman has inspired prospects such as Minchey to take another look at coming to South Bend. As for 2024, the class is currently ranked No. 1, featuring high four-star quarterback C.J. Carr. Carr is a Michigan legacy and a massive recruiting win for Freeman and offensive coordinator Tommy Rees.

The future looks bright for Notre Dame football, and a national championship in the next decade is looking more promising than it recently has. Nevertheless, these recruits are not always set in stone, but Morrison is leading the charge for the young Irish that are yet to come. Future aside, the Irish need Morrison in all his glory this weekend in order to shut down USC’s high-powered offense and spoil the Trojan’s playoff hopes.

Contact Madeline Ladd at mladd2@nd.edu

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