Notre Dame gets the letter: Consensus four-star defensive end Tyson Ford, the first commit to Marcus Freeman back in January
John Burroughs School; St. LouisMeasurements: 6-foot-4, 262 pounds.Accolades: A consensus four-star recruit, rivals.com rates Ford as the No. 9 strongside defensive end in the class of 2022 and the No. 105 overall prospect. He will play in the All-American Bowl on Jan. 8.
Other notable offers: Ford’s recruitment will be remembered for the quick impact of Marcus Freeman. Perhaps too much has been made of Freeman’s recruiting successes, a thought spurred simply because this time of year has doubled how much praise he gets on that front, but his effect on Ford was undeniable. Before Brian Kelly hired Freeman to be Notre Dame’s defensive coordinator, Ford was expected to commit to Oklahoma any day. Then Freeman swayed him into an Irish pledge that never wavered.
“I really think the Marcus Freeman situation changed things a little bit,” Ford said to Carter Karels of The South Bend Tribune. “I’ve been talking with him ever since he got there really. He was telling me it was a great opportunity to study, get a degree and play football at a school as prestigious as Notre Dame, that it was an opportunity that you can’t turn down.
“After that conversation with him, we talked for a long time. I thought about it, I made pros and cons of each of my schools, I realized Notre Dame was the best choice.”
Ford also considered Georgia and his homestate Florida as finalists before making that January decision.
Projected position: Ford’s size makes him a more likely “big” end than the Vyper that Freeman introduced this season.
Quick take: Ford already brings plenty of strength to the edge, keeping offensive linemen from getting into his body, but there is some fundamental work ahead of him in developing his pass rush tendencies.
Short-term roster outlook: If both Isaiah Foskey and Justin Ademilola return to Notre Dame in 2022, then depth will not be a concern on either edge. If Foskey jumps to the NFL, though, then the recruiting lapses of 2021 — in which the Irish hauled in only two defensive ends, neither of which pressed for playing time last year — could bump Ford into an early role.
Long-term depth chart impact: Will Schweitzer and Jason Onye have plenty of time to develop, assuredly, and German import Alexander Ehrensberger has long been seen as a developmental project with a high ceiling awaiting him. But Ford may be more ready to play than any of them right away, suggesting that will only remain the case. As Foskey, Ademilola and current junior Nana Osafo-Mensah work through the program, that should leave more playing time for Ford.
EARLY SIGNING PERIOD COVERAGE
Consensus four-star defensive end Aiden Gobaira
Consensus four-star safety Nolan Ziegler
Consensus three-star quarterback Steve Angeli
Consensus three-star defensive tackle Donovan Hinish, Kurt’s brother
Consensus four-star linebackers Jaylen Sneed and Joshua Burnham
Punter Bryce McFerson, former Wake Forest commit
Consensus four-star running back Jadarian Price
Tight ends Eli Raridon and Holden Staes
Consensus four-star defensive end Tyson Ford, the first commit to Marcus Freeman back in January
Cornerbacks Benjamin Morrison and Jayden Bellamy
Consensus four-star linebacker Niuafe Tuihalamaka, former USC commit
Consensus four-star receiver Tobias Merriweather, the only receiver in the class
Consensus four-star cornerback Jaden Mickey
Five offensive linemen complete Irish class of 2022, including quartet of four-stars