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Sunday, April 21, 2024
The Observer

Irish secure 11 commits on offense for 2024 football recruiting class

CJ Carr, Quarterback

It’s been a while since Notre Dame truly hit on a top-ranked quarterback prospect, dating back to the days of Jimmy Clausen. But after going into the transfer portal for a signal caller three times in the last four years, the Irish hope they’ve finally found their long-term answer with Carr. The grandson of legendary Michigan coach Lloyd Carr has been an Irish commit since June 2022, and he’s already on campus participating in practices ahead of the Sun Bowl. Carr is rated as the fifth-best quarterback in the class of 2024 and the top prospect in the state of Michigan, according to 247Sports. In three seasons as a starter at Saline, Carr has thrown for at least 2,500 yards and 24 touchdowns. He’s completed at least 68% of his passes each of the last two years. The Irish don’t have to rush Carr. Junior transfer Riley Leonard and sophomore Steve Angeli are set to compete for the starting job this year, and sophomore Kenny Minchey could be in the mix as well. When Carr is ready, though, the Irish shouldn’t be afraid to cut him loose. There’s always pressure leading the offense at a football-crazed school like Notre Dame. Everything in Carr’s background suggests he’ll be able to handle it.

Cam Williams, Wide Receiver

Williams’ rating of 96 out of 100 by 247Sports ties him with Carr for tops among Notre Dame’s 2024 class. He is unanimously regarded as a top-15 wideout in his class and rated as the second-best player in Illinois by 247. He’s grown into his 6-foot-2, 190-pound frame nicely while also possessing great speed thanks to his high school experience running track. The Irish sorely lacked the type of receivers who could win 50-50 balls and make big plays last season. Williams should solve that problem soon. He can run a 4.4 40-yard dash and make plenty of plays with the ball in his hands. Williams put up double-digit touchdowns three straight seasons at Glenbard South, racking up nearly 2,000 receiving yards over the last two seasons. He’s also a threat to run the ball, tacking on six scores and averaging 15.6 yards per carry as a senior. Marcus Freeman emphasized the importance of securing Williams as a Chicago-area prospect.

Guerby Lambert, Offensive Line (E)

Notre Dame and offensive line coach Joe Rudolph secured a major pickup with the commitment of offensive tackle Guerby Lambert. The West Roxbury, Massachusetts, native will provide some much-needed depth to the 2024 offensive line class, an area that recently lost stars Joe Alt and Blake Fisher to the NFL Draft. The four-star rated Guerby chose the Irish over schools such as Alabama, Georgia, Ohio State, Michigan, LSU, Florida State, Penn State and Tennessee, among others.

Given his performance at Catholic Memorial, Lambert is the nation’s No. 4 tackle and the top player in Massachusetts according to 247. Lambert will be a big-name player on the Irish roster come the fall.

Kedren Young, Running Back

In June of 2023, Notre Dame continued its trend of landing top running back recruits when it secured the commitment of Kedren Young. Ranked by 247Sports as the No. 3 running back in his class and the No. 103 player nationally, Young joins fellow four-star Aneyas Williams as Notre Dame’s running back signees for 2024. Young comes to South Bend following a record-breaking high school career in Lufkin, Texas. He racked up 1,751 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns as a junior and set Lufkin’s career rushing mark during his senior season with 3,938 yards. He was recently selected to participate in the prestigious All-American Bowl on Jan. 6. Described as a “ready-made” back, Young has been noted for his vision and elusiveness, as well as his ability to change speeds. At 5-foot-10 and 220 pounds, his combination of physicality and top-end speed have led Notre Dame to view him as a potential difference-maker in the backfield. He may have opportunities to contribute early in his Notre Dame career, as the departure of All-American Audric Estime leaves behind an abundance of available carries. Young and Williams, along with standout returners like freshman Jeremiyah Love and sophomore Jadarian Price, will form the core of what should be a formidable Irish running back unit in 2024 and beyond.

Micah Gilbert, Wide Receiver (E)

Micah Gilbert, the 6-foot-3, four-star wide receiver recruit out of Charlotte Christian in Charlotte, North Carolina, committed to the Irish after four visits to campus. Gilbert, who received offers from Michigan, Penn State, South Carolina, Pittsburgh and Duke, was considered to be the ninth-best player out of North Carolina and the 41st-best receiver in his class. Gilbert was primarily recruited to Notre Dame by former Irish receivers coach Chansi Stuckey and offensive coordinator Gerad Parker. Despite the departure of both from Notre Dame, Gilbert didn’t waver in his commitment. South Carolina and Duke would have been likely landing spots for Gilbert due to proximity to his hometown. Pittsburgh also would have made sense, as his cousin, legendary NFL cornerback Darrelle Revis, played there. With several notable wide receivers leaving Notre Dame over the last month, Gilbert has the opportunity to make an immediate impact on the field for the Irish.

Aneyas Williams, Running Back (E)

Notre Dame continues to recruit well among running backs with the signing of Missouri native Aneyas Williams. Williams carries a four-star rating and is the 21st-ranked running back nationally according to recruiting service 247Sports. A versatile back, Williams has shown that he is capable of being an effective runner and pass catcher. In his senior season at Hannibal, High School in Missouri, Williams caught 17 touchdown passes, rushed for 26 scores, returned two punts and recorded a pick-six for a total of 46 touchdowns. He ended his high school career in style, too, scoring seven touchdowns in his final game. Over four years with the Pirates, Williams amassed over 7,400 total yards of offense. Williams committed to Notre Dame in December 2022. He chose the Irish over offers from 20 additional schools, including the likes of Oregon, Alabama, Ohio State and Auburn.

Logan Saldate, Wide Receiver

Notre Dame’s receiver room may have had its problems on the field last year. But former wide receivers coach Chansi Stuckey did a solid job of recruiting talent that should solve that problem going forward. Logan Saldate, a four-star recruit from Salinas, California, selected Notre Dame over a dozen other offers, including College Football Playoff-bound Washington and Notre Dame’s Sun Bowl opponent, Oregon State. Saldate is ranked as a top-50 receiver and top-30 Californian in his class by 247. Saldate is a bit smaller than Williams, coming up in at 5-foot-11, 185 pounds. He delivered a breakout senior year at Palma High School, nearly doubling his junior year production in receiving yards with a total of 1,242 yards on a career-high 68 receptions. His 15 touchdowns were the same amount he caught as a junior and sophomore combined. The two-time First Team Pacific Coast wideout should be a key part of rebuilding the Irish receiving room.

Jack Larsen, Tight End

Usually a position of stability and production, the tight end group is in flux at Notre Dame right now. Junior Mitchell Evans may not be ready for the start of 2024 with a torn ACL, and presumed No. 2 Holden Staes transferred to Tennessee. That puts a bit more focus on Jack Larsen than may have been expected three months ago. Though rated as a three-star recruit by 247, Larsen, out of Charlotte Catholic High School, received offers from several perennial college football powerhouses such as Alabama, Clemson, Florida State, Michigan and Ohio State. 247 rated him as his class’ 31st best tight end, although ESPN and Rivals had him inside their top 20. As a junior, Larsen caught 37 passes for 686 yards and 10 scores. At 6-foot-3, 220 pounds, Larsen will have some work to do — every Irish tight end on the 2023 roster weighed in at 235 pounds or more. But Larsen should be able to add value as both a pass catcher and blocker as he gets stronger, looking to continue Notre Dame’s tradition of producing productive tight ends.

Peter Jones, Offensive Line

First-year offensive line coach Rudolph didn’t waste any time jumping into the depths of the recruiting scene. Jones is one of three three-star recruits the Irish are enrolling. Jones is the only member of the Irish 2024 class hailing from the Northeast, attending esteemed Malvern Prep in Malvern, Pennsylvania. Jones chose the Irish over offers from Michigan, Oklahoma, Penn State, Stanford and many other schools. He currently stands at 6-foot-5 and 297 pounds. Jones also threw the discus and shotput in high school and already possesses a strong frame the Irish will look to develop.

Styles Prescod, Offensive Line

Ranking nine spots behind Jones in the 247Sports offensive lineman rankings at No. 46, Styles Prescod chose the Irish out of 29 offers that included pitches from Alabama, Colorado, Michigan, Penn State and more. Though he did visit Colorado 10 days after committing to Notre Dame, Prescod chose South Bend over Coach Prime. Prescod measures in at 6-foot-6 and 280 pounds. The offensive lineman is a local product, hailing from Fishers, Indiana, which is about two-and-a-half hours from campus. Though 247’s rankings have him as a three-star, the 247 Composite (which combines 247, ESPN and Rivals rankings) list him as a four-star.

Anthonie Knapp, Offensive Line

Anthonie Knapp comes to South Bend from Georgia, where he served as an anchor at left tackle for Roswell High School. He is rated as a four-star recruit in 247’s composite ranking and the 28th-best offensive tackle in the country. Notre Dame had to beat out offers from the likes of Penn State, Duke, and Cincinnati to earn his signature.The path to playing time looks to be a steep one early on for Knapp. The Irish offensive line for 2024 is far from set, but current freshman Charles Jagusah has already earned an inside track for the currently vacated left tackle slot, and senior Tosh Baker and sophomore Aamil Wagner look to be battling on the other side of the line. However, recent history has shown that there are several paths to snaps on the Notre Dame line and that seniority doesn’t necessarily matter: the best example being soon-to-be first-round pick Joe Alt, who started his freshman season buried on the depth chart before emerging as a stalwart starter as the year progressed.Recruiting rankings via 247SportsSign up for our Observer Sports newsletter!Have an Irish sports question? Ask it for our Observer Sports mailbag!