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Notre Dame 99-to-0: No. 18 Steve Angeli, freshman QB, Blue-Gold Game star

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: APR 23 Notre Dame Spring Game

SOUTH BEND, IN - APRIL 23: Notre Dame Fighting Irish quarterback Steve Angeli (18) dives to score a touchdown in action during the Notre Dame Blue-Gold Spring Football Game on April 23, 2022 at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, IN. (Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Listed measurements: 6-foot-2 ⅜, 210 pounds.2022-23 year, eligibility: An early-enrolled freshman, Angeli has all four seasons of eligibility remaining.Depth Chart: Sophomore Tyler Buchner will start for Notre Dame at Ohio State in 46 days with junior Drew Pyne as his backup. One of them would need to suffer a long-term injury for Angeli to enter the two-deep in 2022.Recruiting: The label of “a three-star prospect” may be misleading given Angeli’s first offer came from Ohio State, one of 10 Big Ten programs to chase the New Jersey product. Multiple schools in each Power Five conference sought Angeli, but he curtailed any aggressive recruiting pitches by committing to the Irish in March of 2021 despite the then-year-long recruiting dead period keeping him from any offiical visits.

Under previous head coaches, a freshman like Angeli would not meet with the media until, at earliest, the spring following his freshman season. More likely, he would wait until preseason practices before his sophomore season.

Instead, Angeli has already done so twice, a welcome change and acknowledgment from new Irish head coach Marcus Freeman that these 18-year-olds are more ready than not to face the public.

Consider Angeli to be Exhibit A. During his recruitment, long after he had committed to Notre Dame, the Irish began chasing other quarterbacks in the class. That would have upset plenty of prospects. Most likely, such a player would arrive at Notre Dame and dodge any questions about it with Crash Davis-approved clichés. Angeli, instead, offered seemingly honest responses to that recruiting choice from Irish offensive coordinator Tommy Rees.

“My conversation with [Rees], he’s always been real and honest and up front with me,” Angeli said in February. “If there was tough stuff he had to tell me, I just respected him so much, knowing that we had such a good relationship. Being able to tell me, it is what it is.

“The real stuff, he’d never lie or sugarcoat anything. He was just telling me how it was. I really respected him for that.”

That honest dynamic, along with Angeli’s innate competitive streak, allowed Notre Dame the flexibility to consider another quarterback, though one never did join the class.

RELATED READING: QB Steve Angeli’s confidence gave Notre Dame, Tommy Rees recruiting flexibility

If there was ever an early-enrolled freshman positioned to make some money off his name, image and likeness, it is the quarterback who provided the last-second, game-winning touchdown in the Blue-Gold Game.

“A pro-style passer, Angeli may be more in the mold of Jack Coan than Tyler Buchner, but he can still get out of the pocket when need be, not afraid to hurdle a defender or spin out of a sack, as his highlight reel makes clear. …

“The Irish quarterback room in 2022 currently holds four names, and that includes current freshman Ron Powlus. He was brought into the class of 2021 to give Notre Dame a third healthy quarterback, before Coan transferred from Wisconsin, so there is not an inherent expectation that the Irish will seek another transfer; they already have four healthy passers. But that will also mean Angeli may be one snap away from being one snap away.”

Notre Dame has every hope to not look to Angeli in 2022. Buchner and Pyne both logged enough snaps last season to quell any thought whatsoever of Angeli turning the starting competition into a three-passer race. He is No. 3 on the depth chart with no controversy whatsoever.

Tbat should lend Angeli to the scout team for some practices and to the second-string for the rest while Buchner and Pyne split the starting reps during the week. Angeli will have a chance to further adjust to the speed of collegiate defenses as well as learn Rees’ playbook. He fared relatively well in both respects in the spring, but relatively is doing some work there. By no means did Angeli look like he would be competing to be the Irish starter if either Buchner or Pyne were elsewhere.

Rees knows better than anyone, though, that a freshman quarterback has to have some readiness in order for his head coach to sleep at night. If the starter suffers an injury, the third-string freshman immediately becomes the backup. That’s how Rees ended up starting four games in 2010 as a freshman, moving up from backup status when the initial injury replacment was so lackluster.

Similarly, Brandon Wimbush lost a year of eligibility in 2015 because he needed to be ready enough to start after Malik Zaire’s ankle injury. Wimbush needed meaningful snaps to be comfortable if that “break glass” moment arrived.

The confidence Angeli showed in leading that 10-play, 83-yard game-winning drive in the spring finale bodes well for those concerns. He would not need a much more thorough handle of the playbook to be able to serve in spot roles.

That is a scenario the Irish would like to avoid, but it is one they need to have thought through, nonetheless.

Not to risk overreacting to a spring scrimmage, but if not for Angeli’s play in the Blue-Gold Game, this section would border on dismissive.

He threw for 180 yards and a touchdown on 11-of-17 passing that day, adding the game-winning score on his sole carry, heading for the pylon as soon as he crossed the line of scrimmage 10 yards away.

More than his stats, it was the awareness on that final play that inspires some larger expectations moving forward.

“Watching the clock, I know we have to get a play off,” Angeli said afterward. “We were in our tempo calls.

“I got the play, looked up at the clock, saw it at about nine seconds left and I was like, I gotta get going. Took the snap, went out, saw the corners kept backing up, gave a few pump fakes, they kept reacting, and then I just went for the front pylon.”

Not to be hyperbolic, but that kind of detailed description of a chaotic moment was impressive from Ian Book after his last-minute touchdown scamper to beat Virginia Tech in 2019 and from Jack Coan on his last-minute touchdown pass with an injured finger against Toledo in 2021. To get it from a high school senior was astounding.

Buchner should start for at least 2022 and 2023, and probably 2024. At the moment, though, there is no quarterback commit in the class behind Angeli. That will inevitably change before December’s early signing period, but the nature of quarterback recruiting suggests that eventual signee may not be of the pedigree that immediately cements Angeli as an afterthought.

RELATED READING: Steve Angeli’s, Jadarian Price’s spring star turns forecast differing Notre Dame futures

From Blake Grupe to Braden Lenzy, the offseason countdown begins anew
No. 99 Blake Grupe, kicker, Arkansas State transfer
No. 99 Rylie Mills, junior defensive lineman, a tackle now playing more at end

No. 98 Tyson Ford, early-enrolled freshman, a defensive tackle recruited as a four-star end
No. 97 Gabriel Rubio, sophomore defensive tackle, still ‘as wide as a Volkswagen’
No. 92 Aidan Keanaaina, a junior defensive tackle who tore his ACL in March
No. 91 Josh Bryan, sophomore kicker
No. 91 Aiden Gobaira, early-enrolled freshman defensive end, four-star recruit
No. 90 Alexander Ehrensberger, junior defensive end, a German project nearing completion
No. 88 Mitchell Evans, sophomore tight end
No. 87 Michael Mayer, junior tight end, likely All-American
No. 85 Holden Staes, incoming freshman tight end
No. 84 Kevin Bauman, junior tight end
No. 83 Jayden Thomas, sophomore receiver, former four-star recruit
No. 80 Cane Berrong, sophomore tight end coming off an ACL injury
No. 79 Tosh Baker, one of four young Irish offensive tackles
No. 78 Pat Coogan, sophomore center, recovering from a meniscus injury
No. 77 Ty Chan, incoming offensive tackle, former four-star recruit
No. 76 Joe Alt, sophomore starting left tackle
No. 75 Josh Lugg, sixth-year offensive lineman, likely starting right guard
No. 74 Billy Schrauth, early-enrolled freshman offensive guard coming off foot surgery
No. 73 Andrew Kristofic, senior offensive tackle-turned-guard
No. 72 Caleb Johnson, sophomore offensive tackle, former Auburn pledge
No. 68 Michael Carmody, junior offensive line utility man
No. 65 Michael Vinson, long snapper, ‘Milk’
No. 65 Chris Smith, defensive tackle, Harvard transfer
No. 59 Aamil Wagner, consensus four-star incoming freshman offensive tackle
No. 58 Ashton Craig, incoming freshman center
No. 57 Jayson Ademilola, fifth-year defensive tackle, coming off shoulder surgery
No. 56 Joey Tanona, early-enrolled offensive guard coming off a concussion
No. 56 Howard Cross, senior defensive tackle with heavy hands, and that’s a good thing
No. 55 Jarrett Patterson, fifth-year offensive lineman, three-year starting center, captain
No. 54 Jacob Lacey, senior defensive tackle, now lighter and a starter
No. 54 Blake Fisher, sophomore starting right tackle, ‘ginormous’
No. 52 Zeke Correll, senior center or perhaps left guard
No. 52 Bo Bauer, fifth-year linebacker, Ironman
No. 50 Rocco Spindler, sophomore offensive guard
No. 48 Will Schweitzer, sophomore end-turned-linebacker
No. 47 Jason Oyne, sophomore defensive end-turned-tackle
No. 44 Junior Tuihalamaka, early-enrolled freshman linebacker, consensus four-star recruit
No. 44 Alex Peitsch, junior long snapper
No. 42 Nolan Ziegler, early-enrolled freshman linebacker, Irish legacy
No. 41 Donovan Hinish, incoming freshman defensive tackle, Kurt’s brother
No. 40 Joshua Burnham, early-enrolled freshman linebacker-turned-end
No. 34 Osita Ekwonu, senior Vyper end coming off an Achilles injury
No. 31 NaNa Osafo-Mensah, senior defensive end
No. 29 Matt Salerno, fifth-year receiver, punt returner, former walk-on
No. 28 TaRiq Bracy, fifth-year starting nickel back
No. 27 JD Bertrand, senior linebacker recovering from a plaguing wrist injury
No. 25 Philip Riley, sophomore cornerback
No. 25 Chris Tyree, junior running back, possible Irish bellcow
No. 24 Jack Kiser, senior linebacker, second-year starter
No. 23 Jayden Bellamy, early-enrolled freshman cornerback
No. 22 Justin Walters, sophomore safety
No. 22 Logan Diggs, sophomore running back with a shoulder injury
No. 21 Jaden Mickey, early-enrolled freshman cornerback
No. 20 Jadarian Price, early-enrolled freshman running back with a ruptured Achilles
No. 20 Benjamin Morrison, freshman cornerback
No. 18 Chance Tucker, sophomore cornerback
No. 9 Eli Raridon, incoming freshman tight end with a torn ACL

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