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Notre Dame 99-to-0: No. 42 Nolan Ziegler, early-enrolled freshman linebacker, Irish legacy


Listed measurements: 6-foot-3, 205 pounds.2022-23 year, eligibility: An early-enrolled freshman, Ziegler has all four seasons of eligibility remaining.Depth Chart: Wherever Ziegler lands on the Irish depth chart, it will not be within the two-deep. Most likely, he spends 2022 on the scout team, nominally behind senior Marist Liufau and sophomore Prince Kollie at Will (weakside) linebacker.Recruiting: A consensus-four star prospect and the No. 24 outside linebacker in the class, per, Ziegler was long likely headed to Notre Dame, given he is an Irish legacy and Catholic-school product from less than two hours away from South Bend. Nonetheless, Michigan, Iowa and Nebraska all chased the Under Armour All-American from Grand Rapids, Mich.

As early December threw the entire Notre Dame program into tumult, perhaps one group was uniquely grounded in stability, the quartet of heralded linebacker recruits. Their lead recruiter, position coach and coordinator — the one person in South Bend they knew best— was increasingly the Irish keystone.

“We all stuck together through it,” Ziegler said in early February. “We all respected (Marcus) Freeman, and he’s the head coach now, so he’s going to get the program in a really good position. We all made it through it, and we’re al lin this thing together now, so we’re a championship team.”

Can Bengal Bouts cut a check to Ziegler to somehow get his younger brother to promote them?

“Ziegler’s length makes him an ideal safety candidate, but if he bulks up much, a move up to linebacker would not be terribly shocking. …

“Freeman spent considerable time on Sunday discussing the need for “speed and length” at safety, and Ziegler may help fill that want, the same one that sparked the move of Ramon Henderson from cornerback to safety this season. Ziegler’s fit in Freeman’s secondary will hinge on his coverage abilities, particularly his man-to-man coverage abilities.”

Injuries will sap Notre Dame of some of its linebacker depth, a football inevitability, but as long as that does not escalate to the level of last season’s August and September — in which the Irish lost multiple veterans for the entire season before typical wear and tear had even begun to tire others — then Ziegler should remain out of the rotation in 2022. If anything, he is at the deepest linebacker position on the roster, behind both Liufua and Kollie with longtime Will linebacker JD Bertrand available to make his way back to his old position, from middle linebacker, if the need arose.

That does not mean Ziegler will automatically preserve a year of eligibility, though. A former safety growing into a linebacker’s body may be the ideal player to cover kickoffs and punts. Ziegler could see special teams action in 13 games this season.

Liufau, Kollie and even Bertrand all have three seasons of eligiblity remaining each, as absurd as that sounds. They will not all use all of them. However these elongated careers pan out time-wise, Ziegler may have time to develop into his linebacker gig.

There will be no fretting over an eventual transfer just because a highly-touted recruit has to wait to play consistently. Ziegler arrives at Notre Dame to wear the same digits his grandfather wore on the 1973 national championship team. His want to play for the Irish is without many peers.

And his time to do so will come; it just may be a bit before there is a spot in the two-deep for Ziegler.

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. 41 Donovan Hinish, incoming freshman defensive tackle, Kurt’s brother
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

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