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Signing Day: Identifying the Best and Most Punnable Names in Notre Dame’s 2023 Class

A tradition unlike any other!

Photo Credit: Twitter (@ByKyleKelly)


It’s once again time to welcome a new class of signees to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish football program, and that of course can only mean one thing – it’s time to analyze all of their names in order to find the best and brightest monikers that we’ll spend the next 3-6 years making hilarious puns about and also just enjoying saying them out loud and/or yelling them as these kids make awesome plays on the field for Marcus Freeman’s squad.

Over the past 5 years, we’ve seen our fair share of simply sensational ND signee names. 2018 brought us Tommy Tremble and Ovie Oghoufo, and of course the GOAT Irish name since Equanimeous St. Brown, C’Bo Flemister.

NCAA Football: Notre Dame Blue-Gold Game Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

2019 delivered Litchfield Ajavon, Osita Ekwonu, NaNa Osafo-Mensah, Marist Liufau, and Hunter Spears.

2020 brought in Tosh Baker, Aidan Keanaaina, Alex Ehrensberger, and some very punnable options like Drew Pyne, Xavier Watts, and Michael Mayer.

2021 gave us Rocco Spindler, Deion Colzie, Lorenzo Styles, Audric Estime, Cane Berrong, Khari Gee, Logan Diggs, Kahanu Kia, and Prince Kollie.

And last year’s class pulled in Jaylen Sneed, Holden Staes, Tobias Merriweather, Niuafe Tuihalamaka, and Gi’Bran Payne (technically not at the same time as the rest of his class, but still).

Needless to say, we’ve been blessed with some absolute gems as Irish fans these last few years, even if there haven’t been any names as legendary as the ones we’ve all discovered on Twitter the last couple days…

So looking at this 2023 ND class, what are the top names overall, and which names will lend themselves to great puns for all of us idiots on Twitter to make horrible tweets about, a la the Ian Book days?

Let’s dive into it.

The Definitive Ranking of the Top 10 Names in the 2023 ND Recruiting Class

This is just going to be a simple, straightforward ranking with no explanations provided. Feel free to tell me how much you disagree in the comments, if you must.

1. Boubacar Traore

2. Jaden Greathouse

3. Sullivan Absher

4. Rico Flores

5. Jeremiyah Love

6. Armel Mukam

7. Adon Shuler

8. Jaiden Ausberry

9. Charlies Jagusah

10. Christian Gray

The Most Punnable Names in the 2023 ND Recruiting Class (in no particular order)

This is by no means a comprehensive coverage of possible puns, but simply a launch pad for all of us to use in preparing to pun it up with these guys’ names for the next few years. I encourage you to flood the article’s comments with many more brilliant and punny ideas on how we can make goofs on Twitter with these fellas’ names.

  • Micah Bell: Bell gives us lots of options with literal bells and their tolling, doorbells, handbells, the Liberty Bell, jingle bells, etc. Let the puns ring out!!!
  • Jeremiyah Love: anything with the word “love” or referring to love, romance, marriage, dating, etc. is fair game, and also some “JEREMIYAH WAS A BULLFROG” references could be in the cards
  • Christian Gray: I’ve never seen 50 Shades of Grey, but might do so soon just so that I can make lots of great jokes about the titular character of those sex movies during this kid’s ND career (would be especially funny given ND is a catholic school). Speaking of that, anyone named Christian opens the door for plenty of biblical/Catholic puns, and Gray will allow us to do plenty with colors, too. Just a very versatile name in terms of punnability here.
  • Devan Houston: like Houston Griffith before him, Devan’s presence on the squad will enable plenty of “Houston, we have a problem” kinds of lines. That’s always a good thing.
  • Jaden Greathouse: His name makes it almost too easy, which somehow makes it more limiting? “Greathouse” is a fun one but I will really need to think how to “naturally” work that into a tweet about his football performance. But I’m confident we can get to some great(house) stuff with such an off-the-shelf great name ready to be used for jokes.
  • Joe Otting: I’ll need to brainstorm and workshop this one more, but there’s a lot of potential here with a last name ending in “-ing,” and if you write his first initial and last name it’s J. Otting or “jotting,” which should allow us to make plenty of “jotting that down” kind of puns throughout his career
  • Adon Shuler: Puns with “shoe”/”shoo” are definitely on the table, and Adon can definitely be used to describe the head of a mafia or any number of guys with the last name Draper, Lemon, Glover, Duck, etc.
  • Brandyn Hillman: Hillman feels like a less accessible readymade pun last name than Greathouse, but has similar opportunity for punning just due to it having multiple words (“hill” and “man”) in it. Very usable name, no doubt.
  • Jaiden Ausberry: The Ausberries taste like Ausberries!!!; any berry puns in general will be a big hit here
  • Kenny Minchey: more like Kenny PinchMe, because I must be dreaming that the Irish landed this awesome QB!!!
  • Rico Flores: “Rico Suave” references will be hit hard for sure; also, Flores means “flowers” in Spanish, right? And Rico means “rich”? We’re in business here, y’all.
  • Cooper Flanagan: Flan again? Let’s do a different dessert this time – switch it up, ya know?
  • Boubacar Traore: I need a lot more time to think through this but there will be some good options here considering words like “boob” and “car” and “try” can be found in the pronunciation of his name.
  • Ben Minich: Honestly I don’t know if there’s really a great pun for his name as-is, but I keep wanting to call him “Ben Spinach” because his last name looks like, on paper, that it should rhyme with Spinach, and if I can force that nickname into the universe like we’ve done with Bellyman, John Mutton, White Steve, etc., then I can make Ben Spinach happen too…and then at that point, we’ve got a whole lot of salad and vegetable puns locked and loaded!!!
  • Sullivan Absher: Sullivan Absher? I barely Sullivan know her!!!!; As a Sullivan myself, I’m sure I can find some other riffs on this kid’s name too. This should be a fun one.
  • What Could Have Been – The Bowen Brothers: unfortunately this one didn’t last — Bowen itself doesn’t give us too much, but calling Peyton and Drayk the “Bowen Brothers” would lend itself to plenty of brotherly puns and even some Mighty Ducks “Bash Brothers” references, and obviously the names Peyton and Drayk could give us some fun references to the QB and rapper as well. At least we can still do some of this with Drayk as we watch him become a stud college linebacker over the next few years.
  • Not a Pun But Worth Mentioning, as a Little Treat – Kaleb Smith and Kaleb Smith: ND landed Virginia Tech grad transfer WR Kaleb Smith on the same day that 2023 WR Kaleb Smith signed with the Irish, and thus it’s so fun to think about not only having two players with the exact same first and last names on one team, but also having them at the same position (!!!). What a concept, we could have lots of fun with this.

Folks, like I said — I really want to make sure we’re punning it up with the best of them over the next few years, so please sound off in the comments with any great pun ideas related to these signees. We will need all the punny ammunition we can get as we go down guns a-blazin’ on Twitter, y’all.