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Notre Dame Football

Intriguing Notre Dame Freshmen Entering Preseason Camp

August 4, 2022
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Days Until Notre Dame Football

New names have officially entered the program and those highly touted recruits will now get their chance to shine on the practice fields for three weeks in hopes of earning a spot or role on Notre Dame’s depth chart. 

Freshmen are often the most exciting pieces to the puzzle for fans as it’s the first look into each player after dominating at the high school level and having 100 articles written about them over the last two years. 

For the most part, Notre Dame is past throwing a freshman to the wolves out of need. Running back Gi’Bran Payne and receiver Tobias Merriweather will play out of need, but both are also in a position where they will still need to earn playing time beyond giving a breather to an upperclassmen. 

This is where it gets fun if you’re a coach or fan. If a freshman can carve out a role, then it means they are simply ahead of the game, but also they are that good to beat out a veteran. 

Notre Dame brought in the nation’s top tight end class with Eli Raridon and Holden Staes. Both players arrived in June and will have a chance to make a quick impression with sophomore Mitchell Evans out with a foot injury. 

Raridon is coming off an ACL tear in December, but he’s cleared to go. How long does it take him to gain confidence in his athletic ability while adjusting to the speed of the college game? How cautious will Notre Dame be with him over the first few weeks of preseason camp? Raridon has the ability to find a role given his freakish athleticism and size, but there is no need for Notre Dame to push him either. 

For Staes, it will come down to finding a niche. Can he help in the run game? Can he be an option in short yardage situations? Or could he potentially be more athletic and quicker than expected to get involved in the passing game? 

Both will pass the look test, but they’ll need to be there mentally and physically to catch Kevin Bauman and Cane Berrong. 

Depending on opinion, one can make the case Notre Dame also brought in the nation’s top linebacker class. Junior Tuliahalamka flashed during spring ball, but Notre Dame is extremely deep at inside backer, especially the Mike with Bo Bauer and JD Bertrand. It’s a tall task to beat out two savvy veterans who have produced on the field, but Tuihalamaka has the athleticism and size to make some noise if he can continue to grow. 

For Jaylen Sneed and Nolan Ziegler, it will be a big preseason camp as they look to show off added weight and comfort in the playbook. Both were early enrollees, so they have a taste of what the next three weeks will be like, but both need to take a few steps forward to crack the two deep. Now, it wouldn’t be a shock to see one of them carve out a sub-package role later on in the year given their speed and ability to find the football. And both players could make immediate contributions all year on special teams. Bo Bauer, Jordan Botelho, Sneed and Ziegler running down on kickoff is exciting. 

The other name to watch this month will be cornerback Benjamin Morrison. The Arizona native arrived in June and impressed during summer workouts. He’s behind the learning curve of his peers Jaden Mickey and Jayden Bellamy as they arrived in January, but Morrison might have the highest ceiling in the cornerback room as he has the size and speed to be a big-time college player. 

That said, Mickey has gotten the hype and rightfully so after his spring, but don’t forget about Bellamy who has elite speed and length. It wouldn’t surprise anyone to see all three contribute on special teams during the year, but the next few weeks will provide a chance for strong competition with the sophomore class. 

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