Brandon Joseph, a 2020 consensus All-America selection from Northwestern, announced Saturday that he will continue his collegiate football career at Notre Dame.
Remember me different… pic.twitter.com/nRmk0nyDUE— Brandon Joseph (@BrandonJoseph_1) January 8, 2022
The sophomore from College Station, Texas, is expected to start classes Monday with the rest of the Irish student body.
The 6-foot-1, 185 pound talent will solidify Notre Dame’s defensive backfield in 2022, while also becoming the highest profile football player ever to transfer to Notre Dame after three semesters at another institution.
In three seasons with the Wildcats, Joseph tallied 135 tackles, nine interceptions and six passes defensed. Pro Football Focus says the safety was targeted 56 times in three seasons, allowing 34 receptions for just 264 yards and one touchdown. The longest completion made against him was 28 yards. The data service said he also had 37 “stops,” which are tackles that result in a “failure” grade for the offense.
Joseph has played the majority of his snaps (623) in the box, but has also lined up at free safety (437) and as the slot corner (374) during his career. Joseph earned a 83.4 grade during his All-America season from PFF; it was 64.1 this past season.
Notre Dame will be without Kyle Hamilton, its own All-America safety, in 2022 after the junior declared for the NFL Draft. Houston Griffith and D.J. Brown, two graduate, have already announced their intentions to return for a fifth year. Brown received a 78.9 overall grade from PFF for his 2021 performance, while Griffith earned a 71.5 grade from the service.
Sophomores Ramon Henderson, who was moved from corner to safety, and Xavier Watts, switched from receiver to safety, were rotational players. K.J. Wallace, who is currently a junior, made brief appearances in 2021, as did Litchfield Ajavon, who has entered the transfer portal.
Joseph received scholarship offers from Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard and Vanderbilt coming out of College Station High School in 2019.
BREAKING NEW GROUND
Joseph’s transfer to Notre Dame as a sophomore entering his fourth semester is not unprecedented, but it is certainly rare.
Sam Assaf did three semesters at Amherst College — where he played on the lacrosse team — before joining Notre Dame in the 2021 spring semester as a walk-on.
Trey Wertz completed two years at Santa Clara before transferring to Notre Dame to compete with the men’s basketball team in the 2020-21 season.
Notre Dame says it only admits 5 to 10 applicants for the spring semester, and there are further obstacles. There are certain grade and core course requirements. The College of Arts and Letters is the only part of the university to admit juniors-to-be, but no one will admitted if they can’t earn 60 or more credits at Notre Dame. (It takes 122 credits to earn an Arts & Letters degree, so this is colloquially called the “50 percent rule.”) That eliminates all interested undergraduates in the middle of their junior year, starting their senior year or lacking one semester’s worth of classes for their degree.
Amir Carlisle and Alohi Gilman — who were both entering their sophomore year — are the most well known Notre Dame undergraduate transfers since 2010. The Irish have also plumbed the graduate transfer market several times, even grabbing former Northwestern Wildcats wide receiver Ben Skowronek for his final season of eligibility.
Besides safety, Notre Dame seems to have a legitimate need for wide receiver depth. There were at least 87 receivers in the portal as of Thursday afternoon, but just 15 were graduate students. Two freshman — Oklahoma’s Mario Williams and UCF’s Titus Mokiao-Atimalala — held Notre Dame offers coming out of high school. But Williams has already said he is following his quarterback, Caleb Williams, to the next school. (Mokiao-Atimalala got an endorsement from former Irish receiver Robby Toma, but Notre Dame has not yet shown any interest in adding the talented Hawaiian.)