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Notre Dame Football Recruiting: Grading the 2021 Fighting Irish Class

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They’re just letters

Now that National Signing Day is in the books, it’s time to hand out some position group grades for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. I promise to take this a little more serious than my 2021 CROOT RANKINGS from back in December.

QUARTERBACK — A-

  • Tyler Buchner
  • Ron Powlus III

Notre Dame may very well have been an “elite quarterback away” for the past few years, but it’s only part of the puzzle. Regardless, Buchner is an elite level recruit that Notre Dame targeted as their number one guy and locked him up. The biggest question mark is how Buchner will adjust to this level after a year off and playing lower tier opponents in his junior year. We even got a backup in training with Powlus.

RUNNING BACK — A

  • Audric Estime
  • Logan Diggs

This is a solid “A” grade in my book. Here’s the funny thing though... had Notre Dame just signed 5-Star Will Shipley — or even Donovan Edwards — I could see this grade being an A+. And yet... I think Notre Dame is better off with this combo than either of those two alone. We get a dynamic power back and a guy that slashes inside the tackles (hurdles included).

audric estime notre dame Twitter @AudricEstime

TIGHT END — B

  • Cane Berrong
  • Mitchell Evans

This is a solid follow-up to Michael Mayer and Kevin Bauman from last year, but it isn’t quite that good. I like Berrong more than the recruiting services do, and I think he will be “another ND tight end” when it’s all said and done. I love Evans, but that’s a big boy that may end up in a different position group during his time in South Bend.

WIDE RECEIVER — A

  • Lorenzo Styles
  • Deion Colzie
  • Jayden Thomas

Hell yeah that’s an “A” grade. All three wide receivers bring something different to the table. Styles has the potential of being a true game-wrecker at WR and on special teams. Colzie’s frame and ability reminds me of Maurice Stovall. Thomas has the hands, route-running, and toughness of a sturdy WR that will make plays in the passing game.

OFFENSIVE LINE — A

  • Blake Fisher
  • Rocco Spindler
  • Caleb Johnson
  • Joe Alt
  • Pat Coogan

Notre Dame knocked another offensive line class out of the park, and that was still with a couple of misses. Blake Fisher is a 5-Star on Rivals and could be the next great LT for Notre Dame in a couple of years. Rocco Spindler is cut from the same cloth as a Quenton Nelson, and will be in the mix to start at guard as a freshman. Caleb Johnson was a huge win to get back from Auburn and could play i multiple positions. Pat Coogan is a guy that may need 3 or 4 years, but the 2 or 3 he gives could be as a starter inside. Then there’s Joe Alt... a massive tight end ready to be a college tackle with potential oozing everywhere. This is an awesome haul that helps solidify a great offensive class overall.

DEFENSIVE LINE — B

  • Gabriel Rubio
  • Jason Onye
  • Devin Aupiu
  • Will Schweitzer

A “B” grade here may be a little more generous than other see it, but during the NSD presser, Mike Elston laid out exactly what Notre Dame is as a defensive line development school. Rubio could play early at DT, but all 4 could develop into more of the same for ND — which is an extremely solid defensive line.

LINEBACKER — B+

  • Prince Kollie
  • Kahanu Kia

This grade should probably be higher, but I still think Notre Dame should have signed one more to this class. With the arrival of Marcus Freeman, all of that may change quite a bit too. Prince Kollie is tragically underrated and was the winner of the HS Butkus Award. Kollie jumps off the screen when watching his film, and his incredible athleticism is going to make highlight reels for years at ND. Kia looks like another kid from the islands that Notre Dame does well with, and could be a major part of the defense later down the road.

CORNERBACK — B

  • Philip Riley
  • Chance Tucker
  • Ryan Barnes
  • JoJo Johnson

As the college game evolves into the speedy perimeter game, the already premium position of cornerback has increased importance. Philip Riley is definitely one of the highest-rated corners that Notre Dame has signed during the Kelly era, and he could figure into the mix as a freshman. Tucker and Barnes are both high ceiling guys that have interesting length in their game. JoJo Johnson was singled out by Freeman in the NSD presser as one of the best athletes in the country — but he may still need time in the weight room to get ready.

notre dame philip riley recruiting Twitter @Riley18Philip

SAFETY — B-

  • Khari Gee
  • Justin Walters

With 2021 likely being the last year of both Kyle Hamilton and Houston Griffith, and the Irish didn’t do enough here to fill Mr. Hamilton’s shoes with another ELITE player — and perhaps needed one more body. Khari Gee, however does have the potential to be something very close. Walters is an interesting prospect as a box safety, but could develop into a linebacker.

SPECIAL TEAMS — A+++

  • Joshua Bryan

When you get a 6-Star player — how could the grade NOT be a A+++? Notre Dame is in a great situation by getting the best kicker in the country, and getting one more year out of Jonathan Doerer to help bring Bryan along.

OVERALL — A-

The Irish have the #9 class in the country, and this grade represents that pretty well. Offensively the Irish hit all the right buttons in terms of playmakers, depth, and pure need. Defensively, there are a lot of really good parts here, but some of it certainly needs to develop and I do question numbers at certain positions.

This is a class that will help the Irish continue to win at an elite level, but it will still take some time to see if it helps them finally win a playoff game.

prince kollie, notre dame
Prince Kollie
Twitter @p_kollie_21

Notre Dame Football’s 2021 Commit List (27)

POSITION PLAYER SIGNED STATE HT WT RIVALS ESPN 247 SPORTS 247 COMPOSITE COMMIT DATE EARLY ENROLLEE
POSITION PLAYER SIGNED STATE HT WT RIVALS ESPN 247 SPORTS 247 COMPOSITE COMMIT DATE EARLY ENROLLEE
QB Tyler Buchner ☘️ California 6'2" 200 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 03/08/19 YES
DT Gabriel Rubio ☘️ Missouri 6'6" 290 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 06/15/19 YES
OT Blake Fisher ☘️ Indiana 6'6" 300 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 06/15/19 YES
TE Cane Berrong ☘️ Georgia 6'5" 220 ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 06/21/19 YES
WR Lorenzo Styles ☘️ Ohio 6'1" 170 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 10/13/19 YES
S Justin Walters ☘️ Illinois 6'2" 175 ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 02/02/20 YES
OL Pat Coogan ☘️ Illinois 6'5" 290 ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 04/15/20 -
DE Jason Onye ☘️ Rhode Island 6'5" 245 ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 05/07/20 -
CB Ryan Barnes ☘️ Maryland 6'2" 180 ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 06/06/20 YES
OT Joe Alt ☘️ Minnesota 6'7" 257 ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 07/06/20 -
CB Chance Tucker ☘️ California 6'1" 170 ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 07/22/20 -
RB Logan Diggs ☘️ Louisiana 6’0" 195 ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 07/29/20 -
TE Mitchell Evans ☘️ Ohio 6'7" 240 ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 07/31/20 YES
LB Prince Kollie ☘️ Tennessee 6'2" 205 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 08/07/20 -
OG Rocco Spindler ☘️ Michigan 6'5" 315 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 08/08/20 YES
DE Will Schweitzer ☘️ California 6'4" 220 ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 08/16/20 YES
WR Deion Colzie ☘️ Georgia 6'4" 195 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 09/28/20 -
WR Jayden Thomas ☘️ Georgia 6'1" 205 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 10/02/20 -
CB Philip Riley ☘️ Florida 6'0" 195 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 11/16/20 YES
K Josh Bryan ☘️ Colorado 6'1" 185 SAILER 6⭐️ SAILER 6⭐️ SAILER 6⭐️ SAILER 6⭐️ 11/17/20 -
LB Kahanu Kia ☘️ Hawaii 6'2" 220 ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 11/19/20 -
OT Caleb Johnson ☘️ Florida 6'7" 295 ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 11/19/20 YES
CB JoJo Johnson ☘️ Indiana 5'11" 180 ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 11/24/20 -
DE Devin Aupiu ☘️ California 6’6” 225 ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 12/09/20 YES
QB Ron Powlus III ☘️ Indiana 6'3" 225 ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 12/16/20 YES
S Khari Gee ☘️ Georgia 6'3" 190 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 12/18/20 -
RB Audric Estime ☘️ New Jersey 6'2" 215 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 12/18/20 -