Story Poster
Photo by Rick Kimball/ISD
Notre Dame Football Recruiting

Marcus Freeman Discusses Recruiting on the Road, 2022 Signees & Notre Dame Network

February 2, 2022

Notre Dame head coach Marcus Freeman was a busy man over the last month. 

Freeman coached in his first game and then hit the recruiting trail for three weeks, which led him to just about every corner of the country. 

Notre Dame's 2022 recruiting class was essentially wrapped up in December, but Freeman had to check on underclassmen and make in-home visits with his signees that didn't enroll early. 

Freeman spoke with ISD on Wednesday to give his thoughts on the last month on the road and much more. 

2022 Lawrence Academy (Mass.) offensive lineman Ty Chan‍ hosted Freeman and Trevor Mendelson for an in-home visit, which the Notre Dame head coach won’t soon forget. 

"Ty Chan - what a big, dynamic family,” Freeman told ISD. “He's just an interesting kid. He's big and has a big personality. It's unique being off at a boarding school, but what a great family and a blended family. Strong personalities there.” 

The trip to Boston was a highlight for Freeman and it’s safe to say the Irish will be back in the area in the near future. 

"Man, I love Boston,” laughed Freeman. “It was the first time I've ever been to Boston. I might go to Boston every year now. It's a great place. It's a place that's been good to us and we have to make sure it continues to stay good to us." 

Freeman then headed to Iowa to check on 2022 tight end signee Eli Raridon‍, who was recovering from an ACL injury, but that didn’t damper the evening. 

"Eli is just huge,” Freeman stated. “He's just a big human being. They have a great home and his dad must be doing well because their home is beautiful. The power of the Notre Dame degree, right? I walked in and said, 'This is what Notre Dame gives you.' 

"His mom is about to give birth in the next day or so. But Eli was great. I got a chance to meet his girlfriend, who goes to Iowa. I was joking with her about him coming to Notre Dame and her being at Iowa." 

The next stop was back to Phoenix to visit with 2022 cornerback Benjamin Morrison‍. The four-star prospect wasn’t able to host Freeman during bowl prep, but the Notre Dame signee did make his way to practice to see his future team. 

"I went to see Ben Morrison and he's an unbelievable person,” explained Freeman. “The family is great. I really, really enjoyed our visit. I told him I was ten minutes from here a week ago for the bowl game and should have popped over then.

"His sister (Faith) did gymnastics at Washington and actually came over to team hotel at the bowl game to help my daughter with her floor routine." 

Freeman then headed to North Carolina to visit with 2022 punter signee Bryce McFerson‍.

"Great kid and what a unique individual,” said Freeman. “He's a track star and a top-notch wrestler. I'm like, ‘Listen, you have punt fake written all over you.' 

"(Brian) Mason went down to see him the next week and said he has a strong leg - a huge leg." 

The final signees Freeman saw last week were offensive linemen Ashton Craig‍ and Aamil Wagner‍. 

"I flew to see Ashton last Friday,” Freeman stated. “I saw him and his dad at the school because my flights were delayed. A big human being. His basketball game was canceled and I flew from there to see Aamil at Wayne High School. 

"It was half seeing Aamil and half of it was seeing my parents. My parents met me at the game and I was able to knock out two birds with one stone.”

Wagner showcased his physical nature with Freeman in the building and perhaps a little too much.

"Aamil fouled out in the third quarter,” laughed Freeman. “I was like, ‘I came here to see you play basketball and he got five fouls right away.’ He was great and I told him to enjoy the next couple of months because that will be the end of his basketball career. It was good for Harry (Hiestand) to be there and connect with his mom and dad." 

Running back JD Price‍ enrolled early, but he’s already impressed Freeman and the staff in a few short weeks on campus. 

"I didn't get a chance to know JD until his second official visit when he came back up here in December,” Freeman explained. “The next time I got to see him was when he was working out. 

"What a presence, man. He's a big, thick and really good-looking football player. I'm excited to see him live when we get to spring ball." 

Price played some of the stiffest competition you'll see at the high school level and that's what Freeman wants to see. 

Now, prospects can't control who they play, but competition and competitive spirit are points of emphasis this staff is looking for while evaluating prospects. 

"We want to see kids that play against the highest competition, but we also understand some of the recruits can't control the competition they're in,” said Freeman. “You really want to see what they're doing in the biggest games. I don't care if it's 2A or 5A. Big ball or little ball. In the biggest games, let's evaluate and see what this kid does. Does he show the competitive spirit that we're looking for? 

“Competition matters and that's why kids come to Notre Dame because they want to compete against the best every day in practice. That matters because it makes you better. We look at who these guys are playing every week." 

During his travels, Freeman was also impressed with the parents of his future players. Freeman knows it takes a special kid to succeed at Notre Dame and saw firsthand why the 2022 signees fall into that category. 

"I was very impressed and that's what makes Notre Dame kids unique,” stated Freeman. “I'm at Holden Staes‍’ house and he has two of the most amazing individuals as parents. I left there saying he's one of the best players in the country and that's a person that values education. That's why he's coming to Notre Dame because he wants to play at a place that uses tight ends well and maximizes his ability, but he understands how important it is to earn a meaningful degree. 

"We have to continue to recruit kids that value education because it's so important. When I was 17, I don't know if I valued education the way I do now. If we can continue to recruit kids that value or show them how important it is to have a meaningful degree and what a meaningful degree does for you.” 

Showing off the Notre Dame network to members of the current team and future recruits will be a significant emphasis moving forward for a number of reasons. 

"People can say it, but let's show them what it can do for you," said Freeman. “I sat with Jerome Bettis and two other guys the other night. We're like, let's stop talking about this network and show our players this network. Let’s show them what it really means and how Notre Dame takes care of Notre Dame and what it can do for you. 

"It's so powerful. It's wealthy and strong, but we have to continue to show our current players how this network can change their lives. They're going to tell the recruits and guess what, then there will be a cycle." 

subscribe Verify your student status
See Subscription Benefits
Trial only available to users who have never subscribed or participated in a previous trial.