Notre Dame 99-to-0: No. 20 Benjamin Morrison, freshman cornerback
Listed measurements: 6-foot ¼, 179 pounds.2022-23 year, eligibility: A freshman, Morrison has all four seasons of eligibility remaining.Depth Chart: Early-enrolled freshman cornerback Jaden Mickey has drawn the most discussion about his potential to contribute right away in 2022, sparked both by his strong showings in spring practices and by Irish head coach Marcus Freeman outright saying as much, and Jayden Bellamy also enrolled early, adding another name ahead of Morrison’s in experience. With them, along with a trio of unproven sophomores, it is hard to envision Morrison working his way into the 2022 rotation.Recruiting: Cornerback factories chased Morrison, despite being ranked only the No. 30 cornerback in the class, per rivals.com. Both Washington and Alabama chased the Phoenix product, choosing Notre Dame over the Huskies despite a lifelong dream of playing for Washington.
NAME, IMAGE, LIKENESS
Morrison may bridge a gap to better relations with Michigan for Irish fans. Well, probably not, given those two fanbases continue to despise each other despite not having any games scheduled for the future. Regardless, Morrison’s older sister is a star gymnast for the Wolverines.
She may be in a better position to capitalize on NIL rights in the short-term than Benjamin is. Female student-athletes have raked in a significant chunk of NIL revenues in the year that doing so has been legal, and as a junior, Naomi’s presence will be more notable than Benjamin’s as a freshman.
WHAT WAS SAID WHEN MORRISON SIGNED IN DECEMBER
“Morrison has a longer wingspan than expected of someone standing 6-feet. If that is matched by physicality, he could end up as a boundary cornerback. …
“Any defensive back sought by Washington and/or Alabama should be considered an impressive get, even for Marcus Freeman amid a hot stretch in recruiting.”
Is it likely Morrison plays his way into the Notre Dame two-deep this fall? No. Is it impossible? Certainly not.
Consider Mickey’s narrative rise — using the descriptor “narrative” because until he is seen in August practices, the insistences he will play this fall still lack literal evidence. Mickey did play well in the spring, and combining that with his recruiting pedigree makes for an understandable thought of him playing at Ohio State in 47 days.
But how much different is Mickey from Morrison? The No. 19 cornerback in the class, rather than the No. 30, Mickey is nearly an inch shorter than Morrison.
Could an impressive August from Morrison match Mickey’s impressive spring? If so, then Morrison may have found his way into the 2022 rotation, and the Irish will be delighted at cornerback for a few seasons, a welcome change for the defense after years of wonder on the perimeter.
That is all obviously a hypothetical, but it is one to underscore the lack of tangible value to spring showings. Notre Dame will lean on whoever shows up in August much more than worry about anything from April.
DOWN THE ROAD
At some point, the glut of young cornerbacks will thin out. With Clarence Lewis and Cam Hart both likely returning to start in 2023, some among the six cornerbacks with four years of eligibility currently remaining could end up elsewhere.
That is simply a math thought, especially when adding in the reality that the Irish have added two cornerback commits in the class of 2023 who would both have been higher-rated recruits than Mickey in 2022.
Some among those six — to list them in full: freshmen Mickey, Bellamy and Morrison; sophomores Philip Riley, Chance Tucker and Ryan Barnes — may dabble at safety or receiver. Some may transfer.
That future consideration will be in the back of minds as the pecking order is established in August and September.
NOTRE DAME 99-TO-0
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. 9 Eli Raridon, incoming freshman tight end with a torn ACL