19.) Alex Peitsch (LS) –
Peitsch may end up being the only four-year starter out of the 2020 class. Peitsch is rated as the #1 snapper in the country, according to Kohl’s Kicking. Peitsch earned himself a spot on the Under Armour All American Game, and it’s well-deserved.
Landon Bartleson*** (DB) –
Bartleson is a tremendous athlete and has all the potential in the world, but is still very raw as a Defensive Back. Bartleson has as good as chance as any of the 2020 DB commits to succeed, I have to see it first. As good as a Running Back Bartleson is, that doesn’t mean he’s going to translate to an excellent Defensive Back. Bartleson is a wait and see for me. *** Bartleson was arrested and will no longer be joining the Notre Dame Football program. I didn’t change where I had Bartleson ranked, but I thought I’d leave this here, so you at least knew my thoughts on Bartleson.
18.) Alexander Ehrensberger (DE)-
Ehrensberger is the biggest unknown in the entire 2020 class being from Germany. At 6’7 and 240lbs, Ehrensberger will be arriving into Balis’s weight program with a perfect frame to add plenty of needed weight. Ehrensberger dominated his lesser opponents in Germany. Based on his Instagram videos, the kid is a workhorse in the weight room, which he will need to succeed at Notre Dame. Even know Ehrensberger is a complete mystery, based on everything, I think this is going to be a hit in recruiting. Now I don’t expect Ehrensberger to touch the field until after a redshirt year; I’d bet a pretty hefty amount that as a Sophomore even if he isn’t in the rotation at DE, he will be in the middle of the field goal block unit being 6’7.
17.) Caleb Offord (DB)-
Offord is a good athlete with an excellent frame for a DB. He reacts to the football in the air very well. Offord seems to be a lot quicker than he is fast. Offord appears to sell out of routes at times when he should trust his teammates. In High School, selling out isn’t going to make or break the play, in college, it will. Offord being ranked 15th isn’t even a knock at his game, I think Notre Dame nailed it with their unusual DB recruiting this year. One of the DB commits will most likely play safety. Of the two that I believe are safety candidates, I think Offord is far and away the better tackler of the two.
16.) Clarence Lewis (DB)-
Lewis is rangy, long, and a legit sub 4.5 40. When it comes to being a safety, I think he has the coverage tools to play safety. In Lewis’s highlights, there isn’t a lot of tackling being done, which to play safety; you need to be able to tackle. Lewis isn’t scared of contact by any means, so learning to be a better tackler isn’t off the table for Lewis at all. If I had to project which DB ends up being a safety, I’d say either Lewis or Offord, but they both have things they need to work on. Lewis and Offord are incredibly similar in my eyes, so if you wanted to argue Offord over Lewis or vice versa, then I would understand.
15.) Jay Brunelle (WR) –
Brunelle is an afterthought with most people when it comes to Notre Dame’s 2020 class, but not with me. He has as much talent as some of the receivers Notre Dame is playing in the 2019 season. Brunelle is elite at getting off the line and has tremendous ball skills. He seems like he could play inside or outside, which helps with play calling and game planning, knowing you have a receiver who is too fast for a linebacker to match up with and also has ball skills to go up and get the ball. Brunelle may be the 3rd best receiver in this class, but in some past classes, he may be the guy you’re most excited to see.
14.) Kevin Bauman (TE) –
Bauman is an old school Tight End. He’s running routes over the middle, making the tough catches, and will try and destroy you when he blocks you. Bauman isn’t the prototypical Tight End in 2020, but there is still a significant need for him in a program. Bauman will have a role whenever it’s his time; He’s far too talented, to not. I think the old school stigma makes people have negative thoughts about a Tight End, Bauman still has the receiving skills to be a functioning TE in the offense. Bauman’s presence will not be needed in 2020, but he will contribute to a Notre Dame team eventually.
13.) Drew Pyne (QB) –
Drew Pyne has a lot of the same qualities that Ian Book has. Ian Book has lost three games as a starting QB for Notre Dame, so the comparison could always be much worse. Pyne’s future is hard to predict coming into the 2020 season. Ian Book coming back for his 5th year means Pyne won’t be playing as a freshman, but with Phil transferring, that means Pyne has a shot at QB2 with a good spring.
All of this is without even mentioning if Pyne beats out Clark for the 3rd string role, I’m not entirely sure what will happen there. Then 2021 rolls around and highly sought after Tyler Buchner rolls into town and could move Pyne to the 3rd string role. Even with his very confusing future, Pyne is still a talented QB. Pyne is very accurate, not going to make a ton of mistakes, and is probably not going to be pushing the ball vertically a ton. While I believe that Notre Dame is in a better place than it was when Ian Book arrived in South Bend, I think the coaching staff will work more with Pyne’s weaknesses when he arrives instead of when he’s called upon, unlike what they did with Ian Book. I’m very excited to see what Pyne’s future entails at Notre Dame.
12.) Aidan Keanaaina (DT) –
I think Aidan Keanaaina has been overlooked in the 2020 recruiting class. Keanaaina takes up a lot of space at 6’3 315lbs, but he’s also surprisingly athletic. Keanaaina moves very well for his size. Keanaaina is a 3-star recruit on about every recruiting site, but I think he projects to be much better than a 3-star at his size and athleticism. Even though Keanaaina should redshirt as a freshman based on the depth chart, in most years, Keanaaina wouldn’t be redshirting. Mike Elston has recruited a wealth of DL talent, and it’s not the old Notre Dame anymore.
11.) Ramon Henderson (ATH) –
Henderson is one of the best athletes in the 2020 class. I have him listed as an ATH because if you watch his film, you’ll see he could play either side of the ball. Notre Dame believes they can make him a DB, which I’m sure they can with how good of an athlete is he. Henderson could play either safety or corner, which Notre Dame projects him as a corner, I believe. Of all the 2020 DB commits they found, I think that Henderson has the most significant upside of the three. Henderson was the best player on the field in his film. He was faster than anyone he played against on the football field. Henderson ran a 10.59 100m dash in track as a junior and for anyone who doesn’t know that’s unbelievably fast.
10.) Michael Carmody (OT) –
The best thing about Carmody is that he will have years to develop as an offensive lineman before he needed. Carmody projects as an offensive tackle, but so does every Notre Dame offensive lineman. Carmody has a good frame for Balis to work with in the weight room.I’m not sure what position Carmody will eventually be playing. Still, I am excited about his future; he brings a ton of talent to an already talented offensive line.
9.) Tosh Baker (OT) –
As I said with Carmody, is it’s very beneficial for Baker that he won’t be starting immediately at Notre Dame. Baker will get a year or two in the weight room to work on his frame before he plays every snap of offense for the Irish. Offensive linemen are hard to project because they’re men amongst boys in High School. I like Baker as a tackle in college more than I like Carmody, but I will be the first to admit that I think projecting offensive linemen off their high school film is difficult.
8.) Bennett Skowronek (WR) *Transfer –
Bennett Skowronek is a Wide Receiver transfer from Northwestern. In Skowronek’s time at Northwestern, he had 110 receptions for 1,1417 yards and eight touchdowns. Skowronek has the tall, thick frame that Notre Dame has had in the last few years in Boykin and Claypool. From everything I’ve seen, Skowronek might be the best athlete of those three guys. Now I’m not predicting that he’ll be as productive as Claypool and Boykin, especially Claypool, but he’ll have a chance too. Ian Book throws the back shoulder fade as well as any QB in the country, and that seems like the throw that Skowronek will make his living off of at Notre Dame. Notre Dame has played a lot of players in the last two years, so Skowronek being a starter or not doesn’t even seem important because he will play regardless. Skowronek’s final year of eligibility will be with the Irish, and I think we’ll get his best.
7.) Isaiah Pryor (S) *Transfer –
Pryor is a safety transfer from Ohio St. In Pryor’s three years with Ohio State, he produced 45 tackles, 2.0 tackles for loss, 1.0 sack, and 1 interception. Pryor was a top 100 recruit coming out of high school. Pryor had any offer that he wanted when he was playing for IMG Academy. Pryor has two years of eligibility left for the Irish. He is a downhill safety with some rangyness to him in the secondary. Pryor has a chance to start for the Irish next year, and the only reason I don’t have him ranked higher is that I’m projecting these players careers at Notre Dame, not just early/immediate impact.
6.) Rylie Mills (DL) –
Do you remember Jerry Tillery? Of course, you do. Rylie Mills reminds me a lot of Jerry Tillery. He’s built more like a defensive end, but he’s flexible and will play defensive tackle. Rylie Mills is the perfect DIME package defensive tackle, and he can get a pass rush from the DT spot just like Tillery did. I expect Mills to have an impact early on even though the defensive line unit has a ton of talent. Mills seems too good to keep off the field. I know it’ll bother people if he barely plays, but still burns his redshirt, and to that, he’s not going to be there for five years if he’s as talented as he looks.
5.) Jordan Johnson (WR) –
Jordan Johnson is the highest-rated receiver of the Brian Kelly era. Johnson is the type of athlete that Notre Dame needs if they’re going to compete at the highest level. Johnson has the frame of an elite receiver along with the speed, quickness, and catching ability. He has a separation skill that isn’t all that teachable. Johnson can be stride for stride with someone, but the second the ball is in the air, he makes separation. A lot of receivers never develop that trait, but Johnson has developed it in HS, which can only help him in college. I’d expect Johnson to burn his redshirt in the first four games of the season.
4.) Xavier Watts (WR) –
Xavier Watts is one of the most underrated recruits in the entire country. Watts looks like the type of talent that Notre Dame is always chasing but never seems to find. Watts has the speed to get over the top of the defense, the quickness to get open anywhere on the field, and the catching ability to make you pay even if you played good defense. Watts is the full package, and he’s enrolling early at Notre Dame. Watts could also play DB at Notre Dame if he needed too. I think Notre Dame will take his talents at receiver though because not very often does a Watts type offensive player come around. I’m personally probably a lot higher on Watts than most, but his film jumps off that he’s an alpha. He dominates both sides of the ball in HS, and his catching ability is extraordinary for a High Schooler. I think Watts will make a big impression as a true freshman, especially as an early enrollee.
3.) Chris Tyree (RB) –
Chris Tyree is the highest-rated running back of the Brian Kelly era. Even though I’ve ranked Tyree 3rd on my rankings list, he’s the most needed player of the 2020 class. Notre Dame set their scoring record in 2019 without having a running back with game-breaking speed. Chris Tyree ran a 4.38 at the opening finals, how about that for game-breaking speed? A Chris Tyree player hasn’t existed on any of Brian Kelly’s other teams. As fast as Dexter Williams was in 2018, Chris Tyree is still .2 faster than Dexter. There were many times this year that the offensive line would take the blame for running backs not getting yards when in reality, the running backs didn’t have the speed/quickness to get through the hole before it was gone, Tyree has that speed/quickness. Now Tyree is only 5’10 and 180lbs, so he can’t be running the ball between the tackles 20 times a game as a true freshman, but there are other ways through the passing game that Notre Dame can get him in space. Tyree is going to thrive at Notre Dame, and I’m ready for it.
2.) Jordan Botelho (ILB/DE) –
Botelho is an extremely talented prospect at two positions of defense. Botelho could play inside linebacker or be a defensive end and join the deep defensive line. I think Notre Dame should give him a look at linebacker and if he can’t contribute early as a linebacker than focus on him as a defensive end. Botelho brings nastiness to him that Notre Dame doesn’t have with the departure of Gilman, but much needed. He never gives up on a play even if he shouldn’t be making the play. One specific play in his high school film that stands out: is he forces a fumble in the backfield, and the offense recovers the fumble, and Bothelo gets up from forcing the fumble and chases the ball carrier down and gets another tackle. That play describes Botelho’s motor that you can’t teach. If Botelho is going to play DE, then he’ll need to get a little bigger than he is now with his 6’3 230lb frame. Despite being slightly undersized, Botelho’s strength isn’t an issue at all. He will bull rush an offensive linemen, or he’ll speed rush right past them, he doesn’t have limitations on how he rushes the QB he just finds a way to get it done. Even though I have Bothelo ranked 2nd on my list, I’m not positive that Botelho burns his redshirt. Botelho will enroll early so he’ll have a fair chance to beat out an upperclassman for a spot. Notre Dame has an excellent defensive line room, so I think it’s going to be tough for Botelho.
1.) Michael Mayer (TE) –
Notre Dame has a long history of excellent tight end play, and Mayer is going to add to that list. Michael Mayer is everything Notre Dame looks for in a tight end. He has abilities that not even Cole Kmet had. Mayer has the ability to lineup anywhere on the field and still get open, I’m not sure Kmet didn’t have it, but if Kmet did, Notre Dame didn’t use it. Mayer is virtually a mismatch with anyone trying to guard him with his 6’4 235lb frame. Mayer ran a 4.29 shuttle time, which is very quick for a tight end. Mayer is a man-to-man nightmare; he’s too much for a linebacker to guard down the seam. I expect Mayer to push for a lot of playing time as a freshman since he’s more of a Cole Kmet style tight end. Kmet leaving for the draft would concern me more if Mayer weren’t arriving in South Bend in June. Will Mayer has similar stats to Kmet’s junior year as a true freshman? Of course not. Could Mayer have a freshman year better than Kmet’s freshman and sophomore years combined? I think so. I think Mayer has the ability for a 250-yard season, which as a true freshman TE, is solid. I do not expect Mayer to redshirt as a freshman if healthy, and I do not expect him to be on Notre Dame as a senior either unless it’s by his choice.