Column: Stars of the Irish Future

Author: Prasco, Joseph

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With the defeat of Iowa State in the Camping World Bowl on Dec. 28, all eyes look ahead to the 2020 season for the Fighting Irish. While the last game of the season means the departure of many key players for the NFL, Notre Dame brings in a highly-touted recruiting class that will compete for minutes early.

It comes as no shock that Notre Dame is securing another top-notch recruiting class in 2020. Ranked 11th by 247Sports, the recruiting class has nine three-star recruits, seven four-star recruits, and two five-star recruits.

The Fighting Irish added big bodies to the offensive line in consensus four-star recruits Tosh Baker and Michael Carmody. Offensive line coach Jeff Quinn hopes these two will be the next generation of “O-line U” at Notre Dame.

Baker, a 6-foot-7, 271-pound tackle out of Phoenix, Ariz., had thought basketball was his calling until his junior year: “I have always loved football, but I never thought I would have had this big of an opportunity to play at the next level,” he told The Arizona Republic. By the time the early signing period came around, he had received over 30 offers before committing to Notre Dame.

Carmody, like Baker, is no stranger to basketball either — his brother, Robby Carmody, is a member of the Notre Dame men’s basketball team. Even with an older brother at the same school, Michael Carmody will be sure to make a name for himself as another big man (6-foot-5, 283 pounds) on the Irish offensive line.

Notre Dame’s offensive line is sure to look as strong as ever, but the loss of key skill players like Tony Jones Jr., Chase Claypool and Chris Finke is sure to be a blow to the team, right? Think again.

The 2020 recruiting class is bringing in one running back, three wide receivers, two tight ends, and one graduate transfer wide receiver.

Chris Tyree is the lone running back recruit in this class, but the 5-foot-10, 180-pound five-star recruit out of Virginia has big-play potential each time he touches the ball. What Tyree lacks in size, he makes up for with blazing speed, field vision and confidence.

“As a player, I’m a playmaker. I’m a home run hitter. I can score from any part of the field… Notre Dame fans can expect a playmaker though and one that leads by example,” Tyree said to 247 Sports.

However, with five other running backs ahead of him, Tyree will have plenty of competition next year if he wants to see the field.

Jordan Johnson (6-foot-1, 182 pounds), the other five-star recruit in this class, is a big-bodied wide receiver out of St. Louis, Missouri. Perhaps the best route-runner in this class, Johnson has the potential to grow into one of Notre Dame’s top receiver with smooth breaks and the ability to win contested balls.

The reinforcements to the Irish defense hope to keep the program at peak performance. For defensive ends, Notre Dame looked far and wide — literally — to find Jordan Botelho of Honolulu, Hawaii, and Alexander Ehrensberger of Dusseldorf, Germany, each over four thousand miles from the Golden Dome; Botelho, at 6-foot-3, 230 pounds, and Ehrensberger, at 6-foot-7, 240 pounds will inspire fear in any offense they face.

Rylie Mills, a 6-foot-5, 275-pound defensive end out of Lake Forest, Illinois, also hopes to make an impact for the Irish. Mills was heavily recruited by several high profile schools with offers from Alabama, Ohio State and Clemson among others before choosing Notre Dame. His physicality and speed off the ball set him apart and allow him to make plays in the backfield.

With several key losses in the secondary, the Irish added four athletic defensive backs, along with a graduate transfer who could see the field immediately. Caleb Offord, Ramon Henderson, and Landen Bartleson each stand just over 6-foot-1, 180 pounds, and Clarence Lewis is just shy of the 6-foot mark weighing 185 pounds. Each recruit offers the speed Brian Kelly and the recruiting staff have sought in the last few cycles. The Irish also added graduate transfer Isaiah Pryor from Ohio State to play safety.

Not in the cards for the 2020 recruits: linebackers. Of the thirteen linebackers currently on the Irish roster, ten have freshman or sophomore eligibility. During a media session on December 18, recruiting coordinator Brian Polian said, “The numbers told us that it was probably not in the program’s best interests to keep adding linebackers when we had needs at other positions on defense.” The Irish used this as an opportunity to add depth and coverage to their defense rather than reinforcing an already strong area.

In order to compete with other top-tier programs like Clemson and Georgia, Notre Dame will need to build off the momentum of this year’s class and continue to haul in four and five-star talents. At the end of the day though, stars do not mean everything and each recruit will have a chance to prove himself this summer. There has been one common message from this year’s class, they feel they will be the class to put Notre Dame back on top of the college football world and bring a championship back to South Bend.