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Notre Dame 99-to-0: No. 22 Ben Minich, early-enrolled freshman safety, four-star recruit

Ben Minich Notre Dame

Twitter | @BenMinich

Listed measurements: 5-foot-11 ⅞, 190 pounds.
2023-24 year, eligibility: An early-enrolled freshman, Minich has all four seasons of eligibility remaining.
Depth Chart: With four veteran safeties on the roster, thanks to Antonio Carter’s transfer in from Rhode Island, Notre Dame should not need to call on Minich unless he absolutely excels in preseason practices, something that would be a surprise but not completely out of left field.
Recruiting: A consensus four-star recruit and the No. 27 safety in the class of 2023, per, Minich visited South Bend for a June recruiting camp and committed to the Irish soon thereafter. At that point, he was a lower-ranked recruit and somewhat under the radar; whatever he showed the Notre Dame coaching staff in that in-person workout changed the tone of his recruitment.

Ironically, they also presumably got accurate measurements on Minich that weekend. listed Minich as 6-foot-1, clearly an embellishment based on the Irish roster. This is not mentioned as a criticism of Minich, only as a moment of noticed evidence of an all-too-common occurrence in the recruiting industry.

“Speed. Minich has been clocked in the 100-meter dash in less than 11 seconds. …

“Most of Minich’s power comes from his legs, which allows for surer tackling than 180 pounds usually would suggest. His combination of speed and willingness to be physical should make him an early special teams contributor, though some added weight will be needed for more than that role.”

RELATED READING: ND safety Minich determined to find the fast track to early playing time

Much like running back, coordinators often look for pure athleticism and game instincts in future safeties. The position can include such a wide array of duties while effectively quarterbacking the defense, an instinctual understanding of the game can yield unexpected dividends from the back line.

Notre Dame defensive coordinator Al Golden saw as much in Minich.

“I had the good fortune of seeing him play live early in the [fall],” Golden said when Minich signed his National Letter of Intent in December. “Had a fake punt, had some great tackles in the open field on defense at safety, game-winning touchdown with seconds remaining in the game on offense. Just a really smart player that’s physically tough and versatile.”

Minich has some physical growing to do, as evidenced by putting on 10 pounds in his first semester, and then he will have a learning curve to climb, but he has made progress on both challenges already. First of all, he put on 10 pounds in his first semester. Secondly, consider the jump from the following February quote …

“I’ve never seen someone throw the ball like that with my eyes,” Minich said of Wake Forest transfer quarterback Sam Hartman. “High school is so different. The zip they have on the ball and how they roll out and how it comes out of their hand, it’s definitely different.”

… to intercepting three passes, though it is unknown if they were off Hartman’s arm, halfway through spring practices, according to sixth-year safety DJ Brown. Minich was making plays, likely buttressed by that speed, before a broken thumb cut short his spring with just a few practices left.

Nonetheless, seniors Xavier Watts and Ramon Henderson, and Brown and Carter should limit Minich’s exposure in the Irish secondary this fall. If/when one of them goes down with an injury, Notre Dame is as likely to turn to Oklahoma State transfer Thomas Harper, currently expected to work mostly at nickel back, as it is to turn to a freshman.

That should leave Minich with special teams duties. His physical profile projects too well to coverage units to preserve a year of eligibility.

Brown will be out of eligibility after this season, but Watts, Henderson and Carter will each have eligibility through the 2024 season. With both Minich and early-enrolled freshman Adon Shuler on the roster, the Irish can afford to bring back only two of the veterans, but that would lead to a thinner room than would be ideal. Thus, all three may return.

In that instance, Minich and Shuler will be competing to crack the two-deep and gain an upper hand on a 2025 starting role. Playing time is not far off for the pair, but a starting role may have to wait.

The summer countdown begins anew, Rylie Mills to Deion Colzie
No. 99 Rylie Mills, senior defensive tackle, moving back inside from end
No. 98 Devan Houstan, early-enrolled four-star defensive tackle
No. 97 Gabriel Rubio, junior defensive tackle, one of three Irish DTs with notable experience
No. 95 Tyson Ford, sophomore defensive tackle, up 30 pounds from a year ago
No. 93 Armel Mukam, incoming freshman defensive end, former Stanford commit
No. 92 Aidan Keanaaina, a senior defensive tackle now ‘fully healthy’ after a 2022 torn ACL
No. 91 Aiden Gobaira, sophomore defensive end, former four-star recruit
No. 88 Mitchell Evans, the next starter at ‘TE U
No. 87 Cooper Flanagan, incoming freshman tight end, four-star recruit
No. 84 Kevin Bauman, senior tight end coming off a torn ACL
No. 83 Jayden Thomas, junior receiver, probable No. 1 target in 2023
No. 79 Tosh Baker, senior tackle, again a backup but next year ...
No. 78 Pat Coogan, junior interior offensive lineman
No. 77 Ty Chan, sophomore offensive tackle, former four-star recruit
No. 76 Joe Alt, first-team All-American left tackle
No. 75 Sullivan Absher, incoming freshman offensive lineman
No. 74 Billy Schrauth, sophomore left guard, likely starter
No. 73 Andrew Kristofic, fifth-year right guard, likely starter
No. 72 Sam Pendelton, early-enrolled freshman offensive lineman
No. 70 Ashton Craig, sophomore interior offensive lineman
No. 68 Michael Carmody, senior offensive lineman
No. 65 Michael Vinson, sixth-year long snapper, four-year starter
No. 64 Joe Otting, incoming freshman offensive lineman, four-star recruit
No. 59 Aamil Wagner, sophomore offensive tackle
No. 56 Charles Jagusah, incoming freshman offensive lineman, four-star recruit
No. 56 Howard Cross, fifth-year defensive tackle, multi-year starter
No. 55 Chris Terek, incoming freshman offensive lineman, four-star recruit
No. 54 Blake Fisher, junior right tackle, second-year starter
No. 52 Zeke Correll, fifth-year center, third-year starter
No. 51 Boubacar Traore, incoming freshman defensive end, four-star recruit
No. 50 Rocco Spindler, junior offensive guard
No. 47 Jason Onye, junior defensive tackle on the verge of playing time
No. 44 Junior Tuihalamaka, sophomore defensive end, former linebacker
No. 42 Nolan Ziegler, sophomore linebacker, Irish legacy
No. 41 Donovan Hinish, sophomore defensive tackle following in his brother’s footsteps
No. 40 Joshua Burnham, sophomore linebacker-turned-Vyper end
No. 38 Davis Sherwood, junior fullback/H-back, former walk-on
No. 34 Drayk Bowen, early-enrolled freshman linebacker, baseball infielder
No. 32 Spencer Shrader, South Florida transfer kicker
No. 31 Nana Osafo-Mensah, fifth-year defensive end
No. 29 Christian Gray, early-enrolled freshman cornerback coming off a knee injury
No. 29 Matt Salerno, sixth-year receiver, former walk-on
No. 27 JD Bertrand, fifth-year linebacker, third-year starter, possible captain
No. 25 Preston Zinter, early-enrolled freshman linebacker, subtle recruiting win
No. 24 Jack Kiser, fifth-year linebacker, third-year starter, most efficient defender
No. 23 Jaiden Ausberry, early-enrolled freshman linebacker, four-star recruit
No. 17 Brenan Vernon, incoming freshman defensive end, four-star recruit
No. 13 Holden Staes, sophomore tight end, up 20 pounds in a year
No. 12 Penn State RB transfer Devyn Ford gives Notre Dame newly-needed backfield depth, experience
No. 4 Rhode Island transfer safety Antonio Carter gives Notre Dame desperately needed backline depth

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