Albert announces she’ll forgo eligibility ahead of European move

Saturday afternoon Notre Dame women’s soccer star Korbin Albert announced via Instagram that she would be forgoing her remaining collegiate eligibility to play professionally.

Though her destination is not yet official, reports have indicated she’ll be signing with PSG. CBS’s Sandra Herrera mentioned the news as a possibility earlier in the week. Local outlet Le Parisien also picked up the news a day later.

Such a declaration marks historic news for the Irish women’s soccer program. Notre Dame has never had a player forgo eligibility to leave for a club the stature of PSG. In fact, only one women’s soccer player at any program has forgone eligibility to play for a Champions League-level club in recent memory. That was Stanford and Lyon’s Catarina Macario in 2019. Macario is widely regarded as one of the best college soccer players ever. It is big news for the Irish and their future recruiting that Albert has now joined that exclusive list.

Albert over the last year established herself as arguably the best midfielder in college soccer. Capable of producing as both a finisher and a creator, Albert notched 16 goals and five assists. Both marked team-highs for Notre Dame. Playing as an attacking midfielder, Albert represented the heart of Notre Dame’s 3-5-2 formation. She often started attacks out of thin air with her pinpoint passes and penchant for long-range attempts on goal.

The Irish enjoyed a resurgent 2022 campaign, reaching the ACC semi-finals and the national elite eight. Albert played a crucial role in their efforts. In several of Notre Dame’s games against elite opposition, it was the sophomore midfielder who nearly single-handedly powered the team to victory. 

The most notable such game came against Florida State in the ACC semi-final in Cary, North Carolina. On two different occasions, the Irish fell behind against a Seminole side that would go on to win the conference crown. Both times it was Albert who brought Notre Dame back to level terms with long-shot efforts. Albert went on to give the Irish a brief lead with a third shot from distance. A late Florida State equalizer brought the game to overtime, and Notre Dame lost an ill-fated penalty kick shootout. 

Albert’s brilliance also shined in a key clash against Duke. The Blue Devils went on to finish No. 6 in national rankings. The sophomore was the only Irish player to find the back of the net against the Blue Devils, converting both a penalty and a vicious curled strike in a 2-2 draw.

If the current buzz is true, Albert will be joining a PSG squad in the thick of a title race. The Parisians sit second in the table in France’s DI Arkema behind Olympique Lyonnais. They’re just a single point behind current leaders Lyon, with nine matches to play in the season.


Irish comeback falls short in 69-65 loss to Wolfpack

Sunday afternoon Notre Dame women’s basketball suffered their third loss of the season, falling 69-65 to North Carolina State on the road in Raleigh.

The Irish started and ended well, outscoring the Wolfpack in both the first and fourth quarters. But their efforts were undone by poor performances over the middle two periods.

Head Coach Niele Ivey was shorthanded from the start. Graduate student center Lauren Ebo was a late scratch from the rotation due to an undisclosed injury. While Ebo did travel with the team to Raleigh, she was reportedly in a boot and unable to play. Notre Dame struggled to establish themselves down low in Ebo’s absence. Their makeshift frontcourt platoon of usual starter Kylee Watson and rotational forward Natalija Marshall combined for just seven points and five rebounds.

The Irish did get a boost thanks to a breakout performance by early enrollee freshman Cassandre Prosper. Prosper had perhaps the best showing of her short career in South Bend, playing a career-high 26 minutes. The freshman notched 11 points, including a pair of three-pointers in the fourth quarter to cut the Wolfpack lead down to three. Prosper also continued her usual activity elsewhere on the stat sheet, adding four rebounds, a block and a steal.

Maddy Westbeld was another major contributor to the Irish effort. She played nearly the entire game and came away with a double-double for her efforts. Notre Dame relied on Westbeld more in the paint than usual against the Wolfpack with Ebo unavailable, and the junior grabbed 13 rebounds. Olivia Miles finished second behind Westbeld’s team-high 19 points with 13 points of her own. She also dished out 5 assists. In what could be a sign of things to come in the Irish rotation post-injury to graduate student guard Dara Mabrey, Miles played 37 minutes. Westbeld and Miles were off the court for a combined 5 minutes and 45 seconds.

Looking ahead the Irish will now head up to Chestnut Hill for the second of their two game road swing against Boston College on Thursday. Notre Dame has already faced the Eagles once this year, an 85-48 victory on New Year’s Day in South Bend. 

Regardless of prior contests, the major storyline until Thursday will be Lauren Ebo’s health and availability. The Irish demonstrated Sunday they could still hang around with a ranked opponent without her in the rotation. However, they also clearly are a weaker team when she’s not on the floor. With the exception of Jenna Brown and Natalija Marshall who both played minor roles in the loss to the Wolfpack, Ivey only rotated 6 players on and off the court without Ebo available.

And even if the Irish are able to handle the Eagles without her, they’ll then stare down a test against No. 16 Duke on Sunday. That matinee clash at Purcell could very well be a matchup between the top two teams in the ACC standings. If so, it will likely loom large with regard to seeding in both the conference and national tournaments. 

Notre Dame will next play Thursday night at 7 p.m. at Conte Forum in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. The game will be broadcasted on the ACC Network.


Notre Dame rallies to 70-47 victory over Florida State

For roughly 15 minutes at Purcell Pavilion Thursday night, it appeared the loss of graduate student guard Dara Mabrey would be a cataclysmic, season-ending blow for an Irish team with Final Four ambitions.

With the home crowd at their back for a matchup with No. 24 Florida State, Notre Dame couldn’t buy a bucket. Over the game’s first 12 minutes, the Irish shot just 2-18 from the field. They mustered up seven points in an opening quarter and change that included a nine-minute scoring drought. 

Simply put, the Irish offense looked lost without their sharp-shooting guard. The spacing that Mabrey usually provided didn’t exist, as the Seminoles settled into a zone defense and dared Notre Dame to beat them from deep. Two early fouls by sophomore Olivia Miles took the Irish’s mercurial floor general off the court. And as Florida State amassed a 22-12 lead in front of a silent Purcell audience, the game teetered on the brink of a Seminole rout.

Just the opposite happened instead. With 4:07 remaining in the second quarter, Irish head coach Niele Ivey made a triple substitution: bringing in Miles, freshman guard KK Bransford and funior forward Kylee Watson to try and find a spark. 

And that spark was found with haste. Graduate student center Lauren Ebo converted a quick layup within 10 seconds of Ivey’s subs entering the game. A pullup jumper by Miles, a layup and two free throws from Bransford and another layup by sophomore guard Sonia Citron soon followed without a Seminole response, capping off a 10-point burst by the Irish that helped Notre Dame enter halftime trailing by just one.

In the second half, the Irish blew the game open. A platoon of Ebo, Bransford and Citron found their scoring stride, helping Notre Dame open up a 16-point lead heading into the fourth quarter. The Irish would continue to pour it on in the final frame, eventually winning by 23 points. 

After the game, Ivey gave credit to Ebo, who posted a double-double in her first start of the season for the Irish. 

“I really loved our experience, our size with that lineup… I thought [Ebo] was great,” Ivey said. “She’s solid. Great presence when we get her the ball. I think she does very well, one of the best in the country, at finishing. I feel like I had six starters the entire season, so I think that was easy for her [to enter the lineup].”

Also stepping up in Mabrey’s absence were Notre Dame’s two freshmen: Bransford and early enrollee guard Cassandre Prosper. Bransford ended the game with 15 points on an efficient 6-11 clip. And while Prosper struggled to land her shots, she was an active presence all over the court. She finished with five rebounds (four coming on the offensive end), three steals and a block.

Ivey mentioned Bransford’s growth as a major positive for her squad looking down the back half of their conference schedule.

“She’s worked so hard,” said Ivey. “She’s very mature for a freshman, understanding what she needs to do on and off the court, and she’s growing into playing longer stretches. With the loss of Dara, our guards will have to play longer stretches.”

Notre Dame will now start preparations for a road trip to Raleigh, North Carolina, for their second top-25 matchup of three over the next twelve days. The hosting NC State Wolfpack provided both Ivey’s signature win and most agonizing loss last season — with the Irish notching a major top-five win at home in February and a season-ending Sweet 16 loss in March against the ‘Pack in 2022. The NC State game will tip off at 3 p.m. on Saturday and will be broadcast on ESPN.

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Notre Dame women’s basketball cruises past Virginia, Mabrey suffers knee injury

After a nervous victory over Clemson Thursday, Notre Dame got back to their comfortable winning ways on Sunday, taking down Virginia 76-54.

Yet, the tone of the day became somber early on. Graduate student guard Dara Mabrey fell to the ground after being fouled on a transition layup attempt. Mabrey barely put weight on her right leg as Irish staff helped her off the court. A Notre Dame spokesperson later confirmed it was a knee injury that caused her to exit the game.

The Irish responded well to the difficult scene of seeing Mabrey leave the game. She had started 70 straight games for the Irish heading into Sunday. After not scoring for the first two minutes of the contest, Notre Dame ripped off an 18-2 run in the six minutes after Mabrey’s injury. 

After the game, head coach Niele Ivey discussed how pleased she was with how her team played after seeing one of their leaders go down:

“Talking about our toughness, our togetherness… things about our identity that’s not a stat. I feel like that really helped us today. Dara’s our heart and soul, she’s our leader and our senior,” she said. “I feel like everyone really responded to making sure that we had to stay together and play the game for her. I think that’s what it means when you have one of your teammates go down. The way you pick her back up is playing for her.”

One player in particular who stepped up for the Irish was sophomore guard Sonia Citron. Citron didn’t look like herself on the road against Clemson, scoring just two points and finishing 1-8 shooting from the field. But against the Cavaliers she thrived, catching fire for 20 points and a 6-7 clip from three-point range. She also chipped in down low with nine rebounds, showing the range of her game that made her such an asset down the stretch of her rookie campaign in 2021. 

When asked whether she preferred the team-high she put up in points or the one she put up in rebounds, Citron simply laughed the question off:

“I love getting boards and passing it to Liv to start the fast break, but hitting threes and scoring feels good too… so I don’t know”

Added Coach Ivey, “She doesn’t want to answer that.”

Irish eye under-the-radar challenge

The nature of the win, in which the Irish led for 20+ points for most of the second half, was more important than usual. Notre Dame will face Florida State on Thursday. It’s an under-the-radar test against a Seminole squad that has powered their way through non-conference and ACC play without much national attention. 

With Ivey able to get her starters some rest down the stretch against the Cavaliers, she gave her team a boost in two ways. For one, the Irish will now have everyone entering the Florida State game on fresh legs. Both Citron and Miles played 35+ minutes in each of the team’s previous two games. And perhaps more importantly, Ivey was able to give more minutes to graduate guard Jenna Brown and freshman guard Cassandre Prosper. Both are rotational pieces who could see their roles grow in the coming weeks as the Irish deal with the potential long-term loss of Mabrey.

Notre Dame women’s basketball is back in action this Thursday against Florida State at Purcell Pavillion. The game tips off at 8 pm and will be broadcasted on regional sports networks.

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2023 Notre Dame depth chart projection: Irish running back prepared to run it back

The Irish return the key pieces from their vaunted rushing attack in 2022, and they’ll look to establish more consistency to bring the offense to another level in 2023.

2022 Summary

It’s fair to say that the running back room was by some distance Notre Dame’s strongest position group in 2022. With the Irish passing offense oftentimes limited, offensive coordinator Tommy Rees leaned on the ground attack to set the tone in nearly every game over the back half of the season. And set the tone it did. The Irish exceeded 200 team rushing yards in 5 of their last 7 games while posting a 6-1 record. 

Part of what made the running back room click so well was the balance struck between different player profiles. Every back that played significant snaps brought something unique to the table that opposing defenses would have to contend with. Sophomore Audric Estime provided the power, using his 220-plus pound frame to wear down defenses and bully his way through the line of scrimmage in short yardage situations. Junior Chris Tyree brought flash, adding a dynamic playmaker to the room that Rees could deploy in the backfield and as a slot receiver. Sophomore Logan Diggs offered a nice blend of both Tyree’s speed and Estime’s strength. Diggs also led all backs in receiving yards. 

Key Departures

Nothing but good news in this department for the Irish. There was some speculation that Chris Tyree could enter the transfer portal after he saw his snap counts decrease over the back half of the season. However, the junior running back opted to stay in South Bend for another year.

Transfer Portal Additions

Unsurprising given the amount of returnees in an already-crowded running back room, Rees and running back coach Deland McCullough opted not to take any transfers at the position.

Freshman Additions

After two late decommitments, the Irish will add one freshman running back to the 2023 depth chart. Consensus top-100 recruit Jeremiyah Love profiles more in the Diggs mold of a hybrid back than a pure power or speed addition. While Love certainly doesn’t lack in the speed department — the high school track star boasts a Missouri 5A state title in the 100 meters — it’s not the only aspect of his game. All scouting reports of Love mention his receiving ability as a major aspect of his skillset. Rees will all but certainly utilize him in the passing game either next season or further down the line.

Projected two-deep

The two-deep for the running back spot is either the easiest or hardest to figure out on the 2023 roster, depending on your perspective. On one hand, the starting options are pretty much all sharpied in. Estime, Diggs and Tyree all logged over 250 snaps last season. Rees settled on Estime and Diggs as names 1a and 1b and Tyree as a change of pace option. Given the impressive results once that rotation emerged, there’s little evidence to suggest it will be tweaked heading into 2023.

What does allow for intrigue, however, is the back end of the rotation. Jadarian Price, for instance, received strong reviews throughout training camp last offseason and was a Blue-Gold game standout. Though a summer achilles injury ended his 2022 campaign before it could start, it stands to reason that if he makes a full recovery he could potentially push Tyree for playing time further down the committee depth chart. The same applies to the aforementioned Love, who at 6’0, 190 pounds, likely doesn’t have a long way to go on the physical end of being game-ready for college football. While Estime and Diggs are locked in to play big roles in 2023, how Rees and McCullough split minutes between the veteran Tyree, the wild card Price and the rookie Love remains to be seen and could be one of the most interesting things to keep an eye out for in the 2023 Blue-Gold game.

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2023 Notre Dame depth chart projection: Irish face major losses along defensive line

The Notre Dame defensive line loses both of their vypers from 2022 along with two of their regular defensive tackles. They’ll look to replace that production and spearhead a strong Irish defense in 2023. 

2022 Summary

Defensive line started out as a confounding nonfactor early on in the season for the Irish. In Notre Dame’s disastrous 0-2 start to the season, the Irish managed just two total sacks. Generally, in games where the Irish struggled, the defensive line struggled with it. Against Stanford, the defensive front again managed just one sack, and against Southern Cal, it registered just two. 

But aside from the Southern Cal blemish, Al Washington’s unit eventually grew into the strength it was expected to be over the latter half of the season. Senior Isaiah Foskey breaking the all-time Notre Dame sack record set by Justin Tuck was a notable high point. Keeping South Carolina, Clemson, Boston College and Syracuse under 100 rushing yards proved instrumental to Irish victories in those games. Junior Jordan Botelho’s two sack performance against South Carolina provided a nice glimmer of hope for 2023 to cap off the year.

Key Departures

Where do you start? In Isaiah Foskey, the Irish lose their 2022 leader in snaps at the position, all-time leader in sacks and a first round talent at a spot where it’s unclear if Notre Dame has a natural replacement (more on that later). Graduate student Jayson Ademilola perhaps wasn’t as prolific on the statsheet as Foskey, but he was a consistent presence in opposing backfields operating in the interior of the defensive line. Graduate student Justin Ademilola finished second in total snaps on the Irish defensive line, rotating in and out opposite Foskey on the edge. In graduate student Chris Smith, Notre Dame loses a dependable presence at nose tackle who emerged as a key member of the rotation when injuries shortened the Irish’s depth. All told, Marcus Freeman and Al Golden will need to replace the vast majority of the team’s 2022 statistical production on the defensive line.

Transfer Portal Additions

Javontae Jean-Baptiste was Notre Dame’s lone transfer portal addition at defensive line, adding experience to what is set to be a young unit in 2023. Jean-Baptiste’s time at Ohio State was characterized by solid if not necessarily flashy play. He served as a rotational member of a top-tier defensive front that he never locked down a starting role on. At 6’5, 250 pounds, Jean-Baptiste figures to be an addition at the “big end” position (should Notre Dame play the same defensive scheme as last year, which is not a guarantee), as opposed to the vyper role that Foskey came to define. The Irish likely saw value in Jean-Baptiste’s senior year production, which was the strongest of his career. He posted four sacks in limited snaps.

Freshman Additions

The Irish added four players at the defensive line position in their 2023 class. Brenan Vernon, Boubacar Traore, Devan Houstan and Armel Mukam signed with Notre Dame. Only Houstan will be enrolling early and as such be on the inside track to early playing time. Vernon is perhaps the most interesting name to keep an eye out for as spring camp progresses. Standing 6’5 and weighing 275 pounds, Vernon should be physically ready for the adjustment from high school to college football. Earlier in the cycle, Vernon was seen as a five-star caliber recruit before ending as a high four-star. 247 Sports’ Gabe Brooks noted that he stood out in particular for his high floor as a prospect. Such a high floor could prove key for the Ohio native to find playing time early.

Projected 2-deep

DE: Jordan Botelho, Nana Osafo-Mensah

DT: Howard Cross, Gabriel Rubio

DT: Rylie Mills, Aidan Keanaaina

DE: Javontae Jean-Baptise, Junior Tuihalamaka

At defensive end, starters 1a and 1b will likely be Jordan Botelho and Javontae Jean-Baptiste. It remains to be seen what specific defensive configuration Notre Dame will use, be it a recreation of last year’s system or a new setup to fit new personnel. Both Botelho (who was the clear next man up for the staff when Foskey opted out of the Gator Bowl) and Jean-Baptiste (who holds four years of high-level game experience) have resumes that stand out among other potential options. Behind them, the picture becomes less clear. Senior Nana Osafo-Mensah enjoyed a career-best year in 2022 and could be set for an even bigger role as a graduate student. And a breakout spring camp from someone on the younger end of the roster (the primary candidates likely being freshmen Joshua Burnham or Junior Tuihalamaka) could likely thrust them into the rotation as well.

On the interior, the story is similar. There’s a decent amount of buzz that junior Rylie Mills, who looked out of place as a defensive end early on in 2022, could move full-time to a more interior role for 2023. Should that be the case, he stands out as an immediate starting candidate. Howard Cross III has not officially confirmed he’ll be returning for a fifth season. But if he does, the graduate student who’s been in the nose tackle rotation for three years would likely be primed for his first season as an every-game starter. After Mills and Cross, there’s less definitive production to consider for backups. Two names to keep an eye on as spring practice buzz begins to emerge, though, are sophomore Gabriel Rubio and junior Aidan Keanaaina.

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Wake Forest quarterback announces transfer to Notre Dame

Wake Forest quarterback Sam Hartman announced Thursday afternoon he’d be transferring to Notre Dame for the 2023 football season.

Hartman coming to South Bend represents a home-run addition for offensive coordinator Tommy Rees and the Irish heading into the spring period. Widely regarded as the best quarterback in the portal, Hartman spent the last five years building one of the most impressive quarterback resumes in the country at Wake Forest. 

The stats of the Charlotte, North Carolina native are as gaudy as they come. He is the all-time ACC leader in career touchdown passes with 110; he’s thrown for 12,967 career yards, 3,701 of which came in 2022; and his production with his legs isn’t too shabby, either, with 856 career rushing yards and 17 total touchdowns on the ground. 

Perhaps most promising for the Irish is his completion percentage in 2022: 63.1%, a career-best mark up from 58% the last two seasons. He helped lead Wake Forest — who totaled a 25-37 record in the five years before he arrived — to a 38-24 mark during his five years as starter.

The decision to take an additional year at Notre Dame makes sense for both parties. The Irish already lost 2022 signal caller Drew Pyne in the transfer portal to Arizona State. They seemingly have decided to go in a different direction than last season’s offense, which leaned heavily on the run to the point of being predictable. 

Hartman is a dynamic quarterback who can hit deep shots and force defenses to respect Notre Dame’s passing attack. And from Hartman’s perspective, despite all his statistical prowess, a move to the Irish provides a chance to boost his ever-growing draft stock. Scouts are no doubt interested in seeing Hartman’s production outside of Wake Forest’s unique slow mesh offensive style, and a move to Notre Dame gives him the chance to prove himself both under a national spotlight as well as in a more conventional offensive system.

The move also creates an interesting timeline for Notre Dame’s quarterback room going forward. While it’s unlikely Marcus Freeman officially names Hartman starter anytime soon, you don’t bring in the all-time ACC leader in passing touchdowns to compete in a quarterback battle. Barring an unlikely sequence of events, Hartman will be under center for the first Irish snaps of the 2023 season against Navy in Dublin, Ireland.

As such, Tyler Buchner’s window to start is likely pushed back another year. The MVP of the Gator Bowl just a week ago lost much of his 2022 campaign to injury, but showed plenty of promise and potential in his return in Jacksonville, Florida.

But even in 2024, Buchner’s starting status might be far from a guarantee. Kenny Minchey was a late addition to the 2023 recruiting class who holds high four-star status himself. He’ll have a chance to make an impression and a case to be a future starter as soon as this spring as an early enrollee. Further muddying the picture will be the enrollment of would-be freshman CJ Carr, the early headliner of Freeman’s 2024 class. Carr could potentially end up as the first five-star quarterback Notre Dame has signed since Gunner Kiel in 2012. 

But Rees and Freeman no doubt are willing to sort out that potential logjam further down the line if it means having Hartman under center this fall. And above all else, it’s a good problem to have. In the short term, Notre Dame gets an immediate star at a key position of need who changes the team’s floor and ceiling for next season. And down the line, they’re slated to have no less than four (can’t write off Steve Angeli, either) four-star or higher quarterbacks that can compete for the starting job when Hartman leaves. 

Depth is a bulletproof vest in college football. The best way to protect against injury-related production drop-offs is to have every backup be a player who’s already starter quality. The Irish are currently set to have just that at the quarterback position going down the line.


Joe Otting signs on with Hiestand and the Irish

On Wednesday morning, Topeka, Kansas product Joe Otting made his June commitment to Notre Dame official, signing a National Letter of Intent. Otting verbally committed earlier this summer, choosing the Irish over heavy interest from Kansas State and Iowa, among others. Per Rivals, Otting ranks as the 17th-best prospect in Notre Dame’s fourth-ranked 2023 recruiting class. 

Otting receives a 5.8 recruiting rating on Rivals, on the lower end of the “All-American Candidate” section on the Rivals recruiting grade scale. That grade goes to potential day two NFL Draft selections, according to Rivals. Otting also ranks as the 20th-highest offensive guard by the service.

Though Otting doesn’t possess the prototypical domineering frame of a lineman, he still has plenty of size. He stands 6-foot-4 and weighs 270 pounds. Recruited as a guard, it’s possible Otting ends up at center for the Irish thanks to his quickness and ability to climb up the field when making blocks. Rivals Notre Dame recruiting analyst Kyle Kelly noted that Otting was among a crew of guards and other interior linemen that could make an impact in South Bend after working with strength coach Matt Balis. “Sam Pendleton, Chris Terek and Joe Otting are going to turn into really solid interior offensive linemen. There’s a lot to look forward to with those guys.”

Notre Dame’s line play this season has been excellent under offensive line coach Harry Hiestand. Hiestand’s pedigree was undoubtedly a factor that helped lock in Otting’s commitment to the Irish. Hiestand previously oversaw first-round selections Quentin Nelson and Mike McGlinchey in his first stint with Notre Dame. Despite some initial shakiness in 2022, the Irish offensive line stabilized into one of the best in the country. Perhaps providing the mold for Otting’s potential role for Notre Dame down the line was Zeke Correll. The Irish recruited Correll as a guard before switching him to center with great success in 2022. 

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Charles Jagusah signs as Irish top offensive line recruit

On Wednesday morning, Rock Island, Illinois native Charles Jagusah made his summer commitment to Notre Dame official, signing a National Letter of Intent. Jagusah verbally committed in late June 2022, after entertaining offers from Michigan, Iowa, Arkansas and 13 other power-five suitors. By Rivals, Jagusah ranks as the seventh-best prospect in Notre Dame’s fourth-ranked 2023 recruiting class. 

Jagusah receives a 5.9 recruiting rating on Rivals, in the middle of the “All-American Candidate” section on the Rivals recruiting grade scale. Rivals reserves that grade for potential day 2 NFL Draft selections. The recruiting service also ranks Jagusah as the ninth-best tackle in the class and the highest-rated offensive lineman the Irish have in this cycle.

It is not difficult to understand why analysts consider Jagusah one of the top offensive line prospects in the class of 2023. Boasting a 6-foot-7, 312-pound frame, the tackle certainly fits the physical description of an anchor in the trenches. Rivals Notre Dame recruiting analyst Kyle Kelly raved about Jagusah’s potential in an interview with the Observer: “Charles Jagusah has five-star, first-round NFL Draft talent.”

Jagusah will have a fantastic chance to unlock that potential at Notre Dame. Harry Hiestand helped close the deal on the four-star prospect’s recruitment. Hiestand can emphasize the fact that he’s produced several early-round draft selections as Notre Dame’s offensive line coach in his first stint with the Irish. And though he’s just one year into his second tenure, Heistand oversaw impressive performances of incumbent Notre Dame sophomore tackles Joe Alt and Blake Fisher. It was certainly an added incentive for Jagusah as he approached signing day.

Unlike many of Notre Dame’s 2023 commits, it’s unlikely Jagusah will be enrolling early at the University. Affecting this in no small part is Jagusah’s status as a dominant high school wrestler. The football star enjoys perhaps even more success on the mat in high school, going unbeaten the last two seasons. That stretch included a 41-0 junior campaign, capped by a 1A state title he’ll be defending this winter.


Longtime safety commit Adon Shuler signs letter of intent with Irish

On Wednesday morning, New Jersey and Irvington High School product Adon Shuler officially signed his National Letter of Intent to play at the University of Notre Dame. Shuler was one of Notre Dame’s longest-standing pledges, verbally committing to the university in August of 2021. He affirmed his initial pledge despite picking up offers from college football heavyweights like Alabama and Georgia over the course of the last year. According to Rivals, Shuler ranks as the 22nd-best prospect in Notre Dame’s fourth-ranked 2023 recruiting class.

Shuler receives a 5.7 recruiting rating on Rivals which sits at the top end of the “All-Region Selection” section on the Rivals recruiting grade scale. That grade goes to potential All-Conference selections and low-end NFL draft prospects, according to Rivals. Shuler also ranks as the 38th-best safety by the service.

A first-team all-state selection by in 2022, Shuler notched over 100 tackles in his senior campaign. He added three interceptions and a forced fumble. He contributed on the opposite side of the ball as well, rushing 43 times for 567 yards and four touchdowns in addition to notching 7 catches for 95 yards. Shuler, paired alongside 2024 Irish recruit Vaboue Toure, helped anchor the Irvington defense. They allowed more than 21 points just once in eleven outings this fall. In a few weeks, Shuler will suit up to represent the Irish in the All-American bowl. He is one of the eight Notre Dame pledges to make the trip down to San Antonio for the game.

Shuler has been a vocal recruiter for the Irish since his verbal commitment. He often takes to Twitter to encourage other recruits to join him in the class. Most recently, Shuler played a major role in Notre Dame’s chase to lock down the signature of five-star safety and verbal commit Peyton Bowen, who ultimately flipped to Oregon.