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Notre Dame Football

6 Thoughts on a Thursday | 2024 ISD Fab 50

March 23, 2023

Later than usual because the coaching carousel refused to stop spinning, but the initial ISD Fab 50 for 2024 is now out and I planned on all 6 Thoughts being dedicated to it, but everyone also gets a few bonus spring ball thoughts as well because of the tidbits we learned from the first practice.

The 2024 ISD Fab 50

There are two Notre Dame commits in the Fab 50. I have quarterback CJ Carr‍ ranked 21st and receiver Cam Williams‍ ranked 38th. Together they have a chance to be the best quarterback-wide receiver combo in a Notre Dame recruiting class in a long time.

As for Notre Dame targets, a big one is linebacker Kyngstonn Viliamu-Asa‍ (36th) who is scheduled to be on campus tomorrow. He visited last spring as well. He’s a do-it-all prospect who shows great block destruction, plus pass rush ability off the edge, and he can cover. I think he’s a top-five linebacker this cycle.

Another huge one is tight end Jaden Reddell‍ (40th), who is currently playing 7-on-7 with Carr. I see him as Brock Bowers type of prospect at the position and he’s one of three tight ends in the Fab 50 who are the rare big skill athlete with dynamic ability. He’s going to be visiting this weekend.

DE Elijah Rushing‍ (11th) has an official visit set for June and I thought his athleticism finally caught up to his frame as a junior. He still has so much room to grow on the field, but the twitch, speed to power, and his use of a long arm with that crazy wingspan are what makes him special. The Irish will be in tough to land him, but doing so would be a game-changer for the class.

DE Mylachi Williams‍ (48th) is someone I have rated higher than anyone else. He has elite pass rush potential, outstanding reactive athleticism, and is incredibly long. He’s going to be visiting Notre Dame on April 22nd.

These are priority targets for the Irish. Holding onto Carr and Cam Williams is even more important because the list of uncommitted targets they are in contention for isn’t a long one.

We should have a good idea of where things stand with most of these players after the spring and that’s largely going to set my expectations as to how good the class can be.

2. There are a number of Notre Dame targets who I think have a shot of being in the Michael Mayer/Kyle Hamilton category in that those two weren’t in the first Fab 50 of their respective recruiting cycles, but were in the final one.

Defensive linemen TJ Lindsey‍ (visiting April 22nd), cornerback Kaleb Beasley‍ (April 1st), defensive linemen Benedict Umeh‍ (visiting April 6th), and defensive linemen Darien Mayo‍ (April 1st) are some scheduled spring visitors that I could see make that jump into the top-50 before all is said and done.

Offensive tackle Guerby Lambert‍ and defensive linemen Bryce Young‍ are two others who I feel are only scratching the surface of their potential and can make big moves in the rankings as well.

3. One Notre Dame target may be noticeably absent to some, especially with all of the defensive linemen that are on there. I don’t have Justin Scott‍ as a top-50 prospect. He is for On3, 247Sports, ESPN, and Rivals. On3 and Rivals have him in the top-10.

I think he is a very good prospect. His physical traits are ridiculously impressive. But when you put up his film compared to these other top guys in the class, I don’t see it. I’m not just talking Hudl. I’m talking about game film.

It’s a marathon, not a sprint with evaluation and projection. Where he’s ranked now could change drastically 11 months from now. At this time and in my eyes, he’s not a top-50 prospect in this cycle.

4. Only two running backs made the Fab 50 and two offensive linemen. That’s another thing that doesn’t help Notre Dame this cycle. This isn’t a strong offensive line class in general so it’s a good year for Notre Dame to not load up at the position like they have the last two cycles.

One area where this class is absolutely loaded is on the defensive line. I have 15 D-linemen in my top-50 and many of those are super talented edge rushers. Together with nine wide receivers, that makes up over half of the list for me.

The scary part is that there are plenty of low 4-star kids right now that could end up being pretty special too if they develop properly. So many long frames with good twitch who just need to spend time in a strength and conditioning program and be coached up.

I don’t know if a bunch of undersized power forwards realized that basketball wasn’t going to be the path for them or if it’s something more, but there is an influx of defensive ends coming into college football that are going to end up being day one and day two NFL Draft picks.

5. Some outliers for me in the Fab 50 compared to others in the industry:

I think edge Christopher Jackson‍ (17th) is severely underrated and an explosive edge rusher. 247 and ESPN don’t even have a ranking for him. On3 has him 83rd. I think he’s in the top tier of pass rushers in this class.

I’m the only one who has Kyngstonn Viliamu-Asa‍ as a top-50 prospect. He is top-70 for 247 and Rivals, but not in the top-150 for ESPN and On3. Ditto for defensive linemen Jeremiah Beaman‍ (25th) who I project as an inside-outside player who can line up just about anywhere and excel. He’s a top-100 player for 247 and On3, but not top-25.

Cornerback Jalyn Crawford‍ (32nd) has fantastic short area quickness and unique size to play nickel. He doesn’t find the ball. The ball finds him. Only 247 has him in their top-100 (93rd).

I mentioned Mylachi Williams‍  earlier and his composite ranking is 331. That will change.

Edge Daniel Okoye‍ (50th) is a 3-star for 247 and only On3 has him as a top-100 prospect. He’s a prospect I’ve been high on since Notre Dame first offered. He’s got some violence converting speed to power.

We’ll see how it all turns out with that group, but the film is the film. 

6. 35 of the 50 are from states with SEC schools.

There is one player from Michigan (Carr), one from Illinois (Williams), and one from Indiana (Mylan Graham). There are zero players from Ohio.

For Notre Dame to land two of three from the Midwest, that’s pretty good and it might be three if Graham would have been an option for them.

Doing what they need to do in the region? Check.

Overcoming the SEC juggernaut where they have the regional advantage? It’s a work in progress.

Now…onto the bonus round!

7. There wasn’t much to react to in terms of what happened on the field with no pads on and only five open periods on the first day of spring practice. The roster attrition, none of which was unexpected, was the biggest news of the day.

Next Saturday we’ll get media access to the one full practice during the spring and there should be a lot more to (over)react to then. The one big thing I’m expecting to see that day is a faster defense.

That’s partly because some young players will be getting more opportunities and I think the second year players could really stand out with their athleticism.

The other part is that, as ISD’s Matt Freeman mentioned on Power Hour earlier this week, this is the first time the defense will be working in the same scheme since 2020. They’ve had coordinator changes the past three years and it’s impossible to hit the ground running when there’s an emphasis on fundamentals as well as implementing a new scheme.

If I’m not writing in my practice report that the defense looked faster, then I’d be very surprised and a faster defense is a better defense.

8. Chris Tyree has the feet and vision to succeed as an inside runner, but balance after contact? Well, he needs space to be a big play threat.

Him working at receiver as well as running back makes sense because of that. If he’s going to get 10 touches a game, there should be a lot less of him running the ball on a Duo call than him getting the ball on the perimeter with a chance to break something big.

That’s one reason why working at receiver makes sense for him. The other reason is that if he wants to play at the next level, he’ll want to sell himself as an Austin Ekeler type. The check down running back is a weapon in the NFL and if he’s not in the backfield getting check downs, it would help him to get a few touches on the perimeter per game.

It’s a crowded backfield for the Irish and I like experimenting with this not only for the sake of Tyree, but for the offense to have another speedy option in space.

9. Thomas Harper and Cam Hart are not cleared for contact, which means that there will be plenty of other defensive backs getting opportunities to take their reps.

A similar thing happened last season when Hart was out. That should also be a lesson: don’t overreact to whoever is replacing those two. Ryan Barnes was working with the ones when Hart was out last year. That meant nothing for the fall and Benjamin Morrison passed him on the depth chart about a week into camp.

This spring will be a chance to get a look at someone like Jaden Mickey in the nickel and he could get elevated to run with the ones with Hart out as well. That might not mean much if they don’t like enough of what they see this spring so it’s a big opportunity for Mickey, Chance Tucker, and Christian Gray.

I’m omitting Clarence Lewis on purpose here because he’s more established. They know what they have there and that’s precisely why that if they see some revelatory play from more than one of those three corners, it could open the door for Lewis to get a true look at safety.

By true look, I mean they wouldn’t move him to be a body. They would move him with the intention to compete to start there.

This is what spring is all about. It’s a time to experiment and tinker and if you find something that works or someone unexpectedly takes advantage of an opportunity, it changes how a position is viewed and then allows for more flexibility with personnel.

I hope we get to see some tinkering when we get access next week. Maybe it will mean nothing, but it also could be the start of something that can help make the team better.

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