Story Poster
Photo by Rick Kimball/ISD
Notre Dame Football

What Notre Dame Fans Can Be Thankful For in 2022

November 24, 2022

Happy Thanksgiving to the ISD community. 

Personally, I appreciate you all and hope you get to spend time with your family and loved ones today. 

When it comes to your addiction to Notre Dame football, here are a few quick things you can be thankful for in 2022. 

There is new life around South Bend due to Marcus Freeman’s approach to being Notre Dame’s head football coach. Freeman is personable and is truly leaving his mark on the community. The man doesn’t sleep. 

Freeman is at every event he can be at whether it’s to greet the baseball team returning from Knoxville to giving the pregame speech before Wednesday’s volleyball game or playing games with the kids at the Boys and Girls Clubs of St. Joseph County on Juneteenth. 

He has made his authentic presence felt outside The Gug at Notre Dame and in the South Bend community.

On the field, Notre Dame fans have started to see where Freeman wants to take this program. It certainly hasn’t been easy and most knew there would be bumps in the road, but the flashes of Notre Dame exerting its will on teams and dominating with a physical presence has been exciting to watch. 

Perhaps the piece to the puzzle that gets lost in the wins and losses is Freeman has kept the strong culture Brian Kelly left. One of the most significant selling points for hiring Freeman was the fact he knew the Notre Dame culture and could sustain it. 

Freeman has done that. There is no better example than the Irish being 8-3 heading into Saturday’s clash with USC after starting the year 0-2. Notre Dame didn’t get to this point in the year because of talent, scheme or coaching. The culture is strong in The Gug and allowed Notre Dame to fight back, which should have Irish fans excited about the future under Freeman. 

Marcus Freeman vowed to recruit relentlessly at his opening presser. He also made it crystal clear he was going to hire a staff that wanted to recruit. And he did just that. 

Today is November 24th and Notre Dame currently has the No. 3 recruiting class in the country, which is a significant step forward, but Freeman isn’t going to be satisfied. 

Notre Dame has continued its national approach under Freeman as the Irish have commitments from every corner of the country, but the Irish have also gotten into schools they probably have no business landing kids from. Perhaps the best example is 2023 linebacker Jaiden Ausberry, who committed to Notre Dame and attends University Lab, the high school across the street from LSU. 

The Irish have commitments from two of the best receivers in the country, but also the state of Texas in Jaden Greathouse and Braylon James. Notre Dame also leads for a third Texas receiver in Kaleb Smith - and yes, the Irish received an early commitment from five-star safety Peyton Bown, who is also a Texas native. 

And yes, Notre Dame didn’t land five-star quarterback Dante Moore, but the fact the staff fought their tails off sent a strong message they are going to recruit the best players in the country and Freeman wasn’t just saying words to excite the fanbase. 

The other piece to the puzzle is Notre Dame has the No. 3 recruiting class and they aren’t paying kids like Texas A&M and other programs. Freeman and his staff have created genuine relationships, which bodes well for the future when recruits sign and show up on campus. There is little entitlement and that will allow the culture inside the locker room to shine when adversity hits. 

It was tough limiting this to just three (well there is a fourth), but special teams takes the cake at the end of the day. Brian Mason’s units have been difference makers and also not cost Notre Dame games. 

Seven blocked punts is just absurd. It’s wild to almost expect a blocked punt at this point when Mason sends the house. Perhaps the most impressive piece is Notre Dame is still waiting for an opponent to try a fake punt. Mason’s scheme is sound, yet creates chaos for opponents. 

The staff will probably never admit it, but they likely get the satisfaction that opponents have to dedicate more time during the week to work on special teams, which takes away from other areas of preparation. 

Mason also went out and found two graduate transfers that have game changers. Kicker Blake Grupe has gone hit 13-for-18 field goals while going 40-for-40 on extra points this year. Punter Jon Sot is averaging 43.3 yards per punt and has been named a semifinalist for the Ray Guy Award. 

Notre Dame has a true special teams coach that knows how to win with scheme, but also great at evaluating talent. 

I’ll leave you with a few tweets. 

Wes & Willy Light Blue Notre Dame Fighting Irish Vintage Floral Button-Up

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