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Early Signing Day: The Best Names in Notre Dame’s 2020 Class

You’ve heard of C’Bo Flemister, Equanimeous St. Brown, Litchfield Ajavon, etc. Which 2020 signees have the best and most pun-able names in the class?

It is with an immense amount of sadness that I must report to you all the following news: the 2020 recruiting class for Notre Dame Fighting Irish football does NOT have very ridiculous names.

Last year’s class gave us Litchfield Ajavon, Nana Osafo-Mensah, Osita Ekwonu, Hunter Spears, and very pun-able last names like Cross, Hart, and Lacey.

2018 gave us the undeniably amazing combination of Tommy Tremble and C’Bo Flemister, not to mention Ovie Oghoufo, the last names Ademilola and Takacs and Jurkovec, the first name TaRiq, and more pun-able last names like Lamb and Keys.

2017 gave us long, powerful monikers like Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, and Jordan Genmark Heath. 2016 brought in Adetokunbo Ogundeji, Studstill, Love, Boudreaux, Claypool, Khalid Kareem, and a guy named Troy Pride Jr. signing to play for a rival of USC. 2015 provided us the juggernaut that was Equanimeous St. Brown, not to mention Asmar Bilal, Te’von Coney, Nicco Fertitta, and guys with the first names Alize and Mykelti. ‘14 had Greer Martini, Drue Tranquill, and a guy who spelled his first name “Jhonathon.”

I could go on and on, but I think you get the picture — we have been downright spoiled when it comes to amazing names in Notre Dame football signing classes, and so it’s definitely tough to look at this 2020 class, which I would argue really doesn’t have any *elite* names. With that said, there are still a few solid ones here, and I want to highlight those in this lovely look at the 2020 group’s best monikers.


Aidan Keanaaina

This is a fantastic last name that is a perfect combination of “fun to say” and “will be butchered by every single broadcaster who tries.” For your reference, Aidan has the pronunciation of his name in his Twitter name — it’s “KAY-AW-NAH-EYE-NAH.”

Also, he gets bonus points for what appears to be his middle name, Ikaika, because “Aidan Ikaika Keanaaina” is the perfect easy-medium-hard pronunciation progression of a full name.

I love that someone reading it would be lulled into a false sense of security due to “Aidan” and then immediately begin to internally panic when they hit “Ikaika,” only to have a full-on meltdown when they make it through “Ikaika” successfully and are rewarded with “Keanaaina.”

Love that.

Landen Bartleson

This name is fancy as shit, you guys.

I can just see a rich fancy-man sitting in a huge armchair while wearing a monocle and a cardigan and an ascot, smoking a pipe, sipping scotch, and reading the Financial section of the newspaper by a roaring fireplace.

I’d like to officially start the campaign to make Landen’s nickname “Fancy Man” ASAP — Landen “Fancy Man” Bartleson is a player I DEFINITELY want on my team.

Alexander Ehrensberger

You wanted a German name, you got a German name!!!

“Alexander” is pretty ordinary, as far as first names go. But “Ehrensberger” is very fun to say (especially shouting it in a German accent), and the “-berger” ending also gives us the versatility to make lots of cheeseburger/fries/fast food jokes.

I am tearing up just thinking about a future where someone can say, “And Notre Dame brings the heat, gets to the QB, and it’s gonna be a SACK LUNCH for the Irish. What did they pack?? How about a nice, juicy, Ehrensberger!!!”

Absolutely inspiring, folks.

Xavier Watts

First of all, I just think this will be a fun name for broadcasters to exclaim as he scampers for a bunch of receiving touchdowns in his career. But then also, “Watts” gives us plenty of electricity/light bulb opportunity, and we could even bring in some question puns...

“Watts the matter, Mr. Cornerback? Couldn’t handle all that Watt(s)age???”

Hell yeah, baybeeeeeee.

Drew Pyne

This a fairly normal name at first glance, but upon further inspection it definitely lends itself well to lots of puns.

Early in his career we will be able to say that Drew is “riding the Pyne” as he redshirts, and there will be a plethora of tree puns to make if/when Drew is the starter in a game against the Stanford Cardinal. Also, whenever there are drills involving cones, don’t you for one second think that a Pyne cone reference shouldn’t be made.

Also, don’t count out the ability to use his whole name, intact, in a pun/joke somehow. I’m imagining someone artistically sketching a picture of a pile of wood, or something, and someone else saying that the artist “Drew Pyne.” That joke will KILL with everyone who lives in my apartment (I live alone).

Rylie Mills

Similar to Drew Pyne, I think “Mills” lends itself well to plenty of puns. Maybe if Rylie doesn’t show a clear grasp of what he should be doing on a play being reviewed in film, a coach could say, “Our defensive end on this side really Mills about in this play.” Or on a particularly windy day of football, I’m sure a “wind Mills” joke could really spin up some laughs. And don’t get me started on all the potential of phrases like “grind” and “against the grain” when used in conjunction with “Mills.” The world is our oyster on this one, folks!

Also, bonus points to Rylie for spelling it “Rylie” instead of something like “Riley” or “Reilly.” Well played.

Jordan Botelho

I just think the last name Botelho is really fun to say, and its rhyming potential is very unique with things like: hello, fellow, cello, marshmallow, Jell-O, Mello Yello, Donatello, and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow...among others.

Tosh Baker

Whether it’s Daniel Tosh references (I haven’t worked out how just yet, but I feel like “Tosh.0” and “True Stories I Made Up” could become solid riffs off that weirdo) or the plentiful world of baking puns that his last name opens up, Tosh Baker seems like a guy who will start for multiple years at tackle and be the best thing since sliced bread...FOLKS!!!

Michael Mayer

I chose not to look up the pronunciation of Michael’s last name, because either way, I think it has a lot of fun name potential.

If it’s pronounced how it looks (“may-urr”), then all the political puns will be at our disposal to talk about things like “the Mayer of the red zone” if Michael ends up ruling that area of the field, or “acting Mayer” if he has to step in for an injured tight end ahead of him on the depth chart — or if he tried to hard to sell a pass interference call.

If it’s pronounced the other possible way (“my-urr”), then we’ve got a name unbelievably close to both a slasher movie killer name and an actor’s name who played Austin Powers and Shrek. That kind of material to work from would be unbelievable — Shrek could be a springboard for making Smashmouth references, and then all bets are off, folks.


Welp, that about wraps it up. I’m very excited for guys like Jordan Johnson and Chris Tyree, for sure, but the Awesome-Name-Loving part of my heart is pretty pumped for the above crew to roll onto campus and begin contributing, even if there are no elite, incredible, standout names like we’ve seen in years past.

This class still has potential, folks — let’s enjoy them and the joy their names will bring us (read: me) in the puns we make for the next 4-5 years!!!