The Notre Dame 2022 Signed Ranking – Defense Edition

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Notre Dame has practically completed its recruiting class of 2022 with the early signing period. The Irish staff have recruited 21 players, including 10 in defense. Notre Dame landed impact players at all three levels of defense and met almost all of its needs with top prospects.

Notre Dame has signed five different defensive players who achieved Top 100 ratings or better, five players with an upward rating of 5.0 stars and this is the deepest Notre Dame defensive class I have. never ranked from the perspective of Top 150 ranked prospects.

Below is my ranking for the defensive class. Ratings are based on my scoring system for each player’s current rating. The upgraded rating is NOT taken into account. At the bottom you will find my ranking based on the rise of each player.

1A. JAYLEN SNEED, LINEBACKER

Hometown / High School: Hilton Head High School (SC)
Measurable: 6-2, 210
IB level: 4.5 (Top 50 caliber prospect)
Higher level: 5.0

The gap between the top three players in this class was extremely narrow and the ratings for Sneed and Burnham were identical. Sneed is an exceptional athlete who possesses elite playing speed, short zone speed, change of direction and flexibility. He has played all over defense during his career and he could play several positions in Irish defense. Sneed explodes towards the round ball and arrives in force despite a lack of ideal size. His cover play has grown and he can get past the quarterback, which means he can do whatever a Notre Dame linebacker needs to do, and he does it at an elite level. Sneed could play linebacker Rover or Will in the Irish defense.

1B. JOSH BURNHAM, LINEBACKER

Hometown / High School: Traverse City (Michigan) Central
Measurable: 6-4, 215
IB level: 4.5 (Top 50 caliber prospect)
Higher level: 5.0

What’s scary about Sneed and Burnham is that neither are near their full potential. Burnham had a monster high level reason, rushing for 1,516 yards and 29 offensive touchdowns while racking up 102 tackles and 12 tackles for losses on defense. His combination of length and speed is special, and his quickness and power over short distances is exactly what you want and need in a modern linebacker. Burnham’s length will be a big plus for him in terms of cover and block destruction once he learns how to play with better technique, which will come when he only focuses on defense. I could see him being a dominant Will, Mike and he has a lot of potential for quick passes.

3. TYSON FORD, END DEFENSIVE

Hometown / High School: St. Louis (Mo.) John Burroughs
Measurable: 6-5, 260
IB level: 4.0 (Top 100 caliber prospect)
Higher level: 5.0

I can’t help but get a glimpse of Stephon Tuitt as I watch Ford’s growth in high school. He’s the perfect big winger in Marcus Freeman’s defense. He has the power to be a dominant edge player, the size to play on the inside in certain looks and the ball speed and closing speed to develop into an impact pass rusher. When he kept his pads low in preparation, he was legitimately unblockable, which you’ve seen in his senior season (19 tackles for loss, 11 sacks). Ford is still a bit crude from a technical standpoint, which is why he was passed by Sneed and Burnham, but his cap is higher than anyone in the class. This young man really has elite potential.

4. BENJAMIN MORRISON, CORNER REAR

Hometown / High School: Phoenix (Arizona) Brophy Prep
Measurable: 6-1, 175
IB level: 4.0 (Top 100 caliber prospect)
Higher level: 5.0

Its length is the first thing you’ll notice about Morrison, and from a pure body and tenacity perspective, it fits in quite well in the borderline position. His height is certainly an asset, but it’s his athleticism and intangible qualities that make him one of the top-rated cornerback signers of the past decade on my board. Morrison is a smooth, fluid athlete who easily changes direction. Its agility allows for clean and explosive downhill skills, which aid it when driving on roads in zone and off-man situations, and when closing on the soccer ball. Morrison needs a bit of technical work, but he plans to be an elite cover player on the edge or in the field.

5. AIDEN GOBAIRA, DEFENSIVE END

Hometown / High School: Lycée Chantilly (Va.)
Measurable: 6-6, 225
IB level: 4.0 (Top 100 caliber prospect)
Higher level: 5.0

The fact that Gobaira is fifth on this list says a lot about how uniquely this defensive class is for Notre Dame. Gobaira is exceptionally long and it’s just starting to fill its frame. It has room to add a lot of weight and I would expect it to easily haul over 250 pounds. The Chantilly standout is a force on the edge against the race thanks to his powerful hands and engine, and as he fills that part of his game he will improve further. His potential as a passer is what gives him a 5.0 star advantage. Gobaira has a weird first step, especially for someone who is 6-6. Its length makes it difficult to block and its closing speed sets it apart from most edgers.

6. NOLAN ZIEGLER, LINEBACKER

Hometown / High School: Grand Rapids (Michigan)
Measurable: 6-4, 205
IB level: 4.0 (Top 150 caliber prospect)
Higher level: 4.5

Ziegler is having a monster senior season and has seen his rating continue to rise. He’s one of the best athletes in the class, which you’ve seen this season when he dominated as a wide receiver (67 catches, 1,343 yards, 25 touchdowns). Ziegler is an explosive downhill athlete and he shows exceptional range, making him ideal for the running game and perimeter passing aspects of the rover stance. What really stands out about Ziegler, especially during his senior season, is how good he is at cover. Its lineup is one of them, but Ziegler also shows quick feet and an ability to easily change direction. A 6-4, 205-pound player (he’ll end up with 220+) who can run, cover and hit like that is rare.

7. NIUAFE TUIHALAMAKA, LINEBACKER

Hometown / High School: Mission Hills (California) Bishop Alemany
Measurable: 6-2, 230
IB level: 4.0 (Top 150 caliber prospect)
Higher level: 4.5

Most years, Tuihalamaka is one of the top 3-4 players in a defensive class, but it shows how busy that class is, and I could say that of all players after Tyson Ford. While other linebackers in this class get high marks due to their lineup, Tuihalamaka brings a different skill set. He’s a pure linebacker Mike who plays a physical and hard-hitting downhill game. Tuihalamaka is a powerful defender who explodes on contact. His speed on short zone is impressive and he arrives at the ball with force. His instincts are excellent and allow him to compensate for the fact that he doesn’t have the elite speed. Tuihalamaka shows a talent for getting through holes in football.

8. JADEN MICKEY, CORNER REAR

Hometown / High School: Centennial of Corona (California)
Measurable: 5-11, 180
IB level: 4.0 (Top 150 caliber prospect)
Higher level: 4.5

Mickey is one of my favorite players in this class. He’s a young man who loves competition and he plays the game with a ton of arrogance and confidence. He’s more than just a trial player, Mickey is also gifted. It’s not too long a cornerback, but he’s got enough length to thrive in Notre Dame’s defense. Mickey has fast feet, an explosive downhill speed and he also improved his long speed. His instinct is exceptional and he shows a great sense of reading routes when working vertically. Mickey plays soccer a lot and he’s physical when it comes to soccer. Mickey adapts quite well to the position on the court and he suits the nickel perfectly.

9. JAYDEN BELLAMY, SECURITY / CORNERBACK

Hometown / High School: Oradell (NJ) Bergen Catholic
Measurable: 5-11, 175
IB level: 3.5 (Top 400 caliber prospect)
Higher level: 4.0

There are two things I love about Bellamy immediately. One is that he has pretty good speed, especially downhill. Second, he is a very intelligent, instinctive, high IQ football player. These traits allow Bellamy to make a lot of plays in the passing game. Bellamy isn’t the biggest player but he’s physical and more than willing to hit. He was first recruited as a cornerback, but Bellamy’s play – and the class’s need – is more of a safety. Bellamy projects much better in cover as a safety than he does as a cornerback. The fact that he can play away, nickel and safety only adds to his value as a prospect.

10. DONOVAN HINISH, DEFENSIVE ATTACK

Hometown / High School: Pittsburgh (Pa.) Central Catholic
Measurable: 6-2, 270
IB level: 3.0 (Top 500 caliber prospect)
Higher level: 3.5

Hinish is the lowest ranked rookie in the class, and if you look at his resume on paper (height, weight, production, rank), it’s a bit of a puzzle for Notre Dame. But if that’s how you feel, I encourage you to watch the Notre Dame 2021 movie and watch # 41 on the defensive line. Young Hinish is not as tall as his brother but he is a better athlete. Hinish is quick on the ball and naturally plays with good leverage. As he gets stronger he will make even more plays and be able to withstand the point of attack better. He will never be a volume producer, but like his brother, his engine, speed and tenacity will be a valuable addition to the group of positions.

SUPERIOR RANKING

1. Tyson Ford – 5.0
2. Josh Burnham – 5.0
3. Aiden Gobaira – 5.0
4. Jaylen Sneed – 5.0
5. Benjamin Morrison – 5.0
6. Nolan Ziegler – 4.5
7. Jaden Mickey – 4.5
8. Niuafe Tuihalamaka – 4.5
9. Jayden Bellamy, 4.0
10. Donovan Hinish, 3.5

GRADE KEY

5.0 – Elite player
4.5 – 100% American caliber player
4.0 – Multi-year starter
3.5 – Key player
3.0 – Backup

Be sure to check out the Irish Breakdown bulletin board, Champions Lounge

Content of the Irish breakdown

The alignment of Notre-Dame 2021
Notre Dame 2021 Schedule

Notre Dame 2022 commits Big Board: Offense
Notre Dame 2022 commits Big Board: Defense

Notre Dame scholarship offers 2022

Large Notre Dame 2022 class board
Large Notre Dame 2023 class board

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