Blue and Gold Illustrated

Oct. 24, 2020

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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44 OCT. 24, 2020 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED FOOTBALL RECRUITING BY MIKE SINGER T wo future pieces of Notre Dame's offensive line met on Oct. 9. Avon (Ind.) High (4-4) took down Zions- ville (Ind.) High (3-5) in a matchup between Indianapolis-area schools that pitted a pair of Irish commits against each other. Avon features class of 2021 five- star recruit Blake Fisher, who is Rivals' No. 4 offensive tackle and No. 19 overall prospect in the coun- try, while class of 2022 four-star pros- pect Joey Tanona, the No. 25 offen- sive tackle and No. 169 overall player nationally per Rivals, is a standout for Zionsville. After the 28-19 win for Fisher 's squad, which Blue & Gold Illustrated was live in person for, the two Irish pledges sought each other out to embrace and talk for a few minutes. Afterward, Tanona spoke about why he committed to Notre Dame prior to his junior year of high school and how his relationship with Fisher was a key part. "I was talking to the other Notre Dame recruits, and there weren't any other schools where their commits were recruiting you," Tanona said. "That really stood out to me." Tanona is Notre Dame's lone of- fensive line commitment in the 2022 class to date, but there are a num- ber of other high-level recruits that are considering the Irish. At the top of the wish list is Lynchburg (Va.) Liberty Christian's Zach Rice, who is rated as a five-star talent and the No. 3 offensive tackle and No. 11 overall recruit nationally by Rivals. There are about a dozen other highly regarded 2022 prospects in the mix as well, but the most likely recruit, as of mid-October, to join the Irish's class is Fond du Lac (Wis.) St. Mary's Springs' Billy Schrauth, who is Rivals' No. 2 offensive guard and No. 104 overall player in the country. Notre Dame will likely take three offensive line recruits in the 2022 class. Barring an unforeseen cir- cumstance, offensive line coach Jeff Quinn's efforts in the 2021 cycle have been completed. Fisher is, of course, the headliner for the Fighting Irish. He has the five- star ranking and mammoth size at 6-6, 330 pounds, which is coupled nicely with superb athleticism, a big personality and the role of an unof- ficial leader in Notre Dame's 2021 class. Clarkston (Mich.) High's Rocco Spindler, the nation's No. 3 offensive guard and No. 59 overall recruit per Rivals, rejected Michigan in favor of the Irish in front of a pro-Wolverines crowd on Aug. 8. He was a big pri- ority for Notre Dame for two years, and him choosing the Irish was a ma- jor recruiting victory for head coach Brian Kelly. Chicago Marist's Pat Coogan, the nation's No. 34 offensive tackle per Rivals who is projected to play center or guard for the Irish, held 28 other scholarship offers before commit- ting to Notre Dame in April, but he doesn't have the "four-star status" ardent recruiting followers want — although Rivals recruiting analyst Josh Helmholdt has lauded the 6-5, 300-pounder's skill set several times. "Coogan's value is amplified by his versatility," Helmholdt said. "We evaluate prospects on their individ- ual abilities, but when you consider him among an offensive line group where he can effectively play all five positions and plug in wherever there is greatest need, his value rises. "When this 2021 class is signed, sealed and delivered, Coogan's pres- ence makes it a more versatile unit." Fridley (Minn.) Totino-Grace offen- sive tackle Joe Alt, who Rivals ranks as a low three-star talent, didn't have a long list of offers, but he picked Notre Dame over Iowa, Iowa State, Kansas State, Minnesota, Missouri, Northwestern and Rutgers in July. Stanford and Wisconsin were close to entering the race for him as well. Of Notre Dame's 19 pledges, Alt is ranked the lowest, but if you ask this recruiting writer who his favor- ite commit is of the class (based on no specific criteria), it's Alt. Alt has an extremely high ceiling, too, and if he pans out he has the potential to be high NFL Draft pick, following in the footsteps of his fa- ther, John, a first-round selection in 1984. Alt's father went on to a solid career with the Kansas City Chiefs as an offensive tackle and played in two Pro Bowls. With a strong 2021 haul and a great start to the 2022 class, Notre Dame will continue its case as "Offensive Line U." The bar has been set high for offensive line recruiting, and Quinn and Co. are getting the job done. ✦ Avon (Ind.) High's Blake Fisher (left), the nation's No. 4 offensive tackle and No. 19 overall recruit in the 2021 class per Rivals, and Zionsville (Ind.) High's Joey Tanona (right), who is Rivals' No. 25 offensive tackle and No. 169 overall player in the 2022 cycle, are key pieces to the future of the Irish offense. PHOTO BY MIKE SINGER Notre Dame Offensive Line Recruiting Stock Is Up

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