Notre Dame gets the letter: Consensus four-star receiver Tobias Merriweather, the only receiver in the class
Union High School; Vancouver, Wash.Measurements: 6-foot-4, 180 pounds.Accolades: An All-American and Polynesian Bowl invitee, the consensus four-star prospect is ranked as the No. 25 receiver in the country by rivals.com, as well as the No. 167 overall recruit in the class of 2022.
Other notable offers: Merriweather’s recruitment could have been remembered for choosing Notre Dame over closer options like Oregon, Washington and UCLA, all understandable destination for a West coast receiver.
Instead, it will be remembered for two things that had little to nothing to do with Merriweather. After defections in the last week from C.J. Williams (to USC over the weekend) and Amorion Walker (on Wednesday morning to Michigan), Merriweather is the only receiver in this Irish class. With those other two, it could have been the type of receiving group that puts a contender over the top. Now, Notre Dame suddenly has a distinct concern on its hands.
Secondly, visiting Merriweather was the last thing Brian Kelly did as the Irish head coach, infamously stepping outside to take a phone call during the in-home visit and then returning to eat a plateful of burnt ends. Yet, Merriweather stuck with Notre Dame.
Projected position: If Merriweather remains this lean, the Irish will want to play him on the field (wide) side of the formation, typically a less physical position. If he bulks up in a collegiate strength and conditioning program, then Merriweather’s height and length could make him an ideal fit along the boundary, a la Miles Boykin, Chase Claypool and Kevin Austin.
Quick take: Unless Merriweather becomes the far and away best receiver in the country, he will largely serve as a reminder of what was lost in the closing weeks of this recruiting class. Williams’ was always a fraught commitment, and as soon as Lincoln Riley took over at USC, it looked inevitable Williams would remain in southern California. Kelly’s jump to LSU then did not help that cause. And Walker’s recruiting rankings never quite caught up to the Irish evaluation of him, something perhaps underscored by Michigan swooping in late in the process.
As was written when Merriweather committed in early August, “Two-year gaps between perimeter playmakers like that has been regularly cited as the biggest difference between Notre Dame and the top tier of college football.”
The losses of Williams and Walker in this recruiting class only widen that gap, despite Merriweather’s potential.
Marcus Freeman's first stop as #NotreDame's head coach was pretty publicly to woo Wisconsin OL Billy Schrauth, but he just said that was a stop on the way to Washington WR Tobias Merriweather.— Douglas Farmer (@D_Farmer) December 15, 2021
Merriweather ended up the only WR in this class, a vital recruit to hold onto.
Short-term roster outlook: Those defections should be to Merriweather’s benefit, frankly. The 2022 plans of Kevin Austin and Braden Lenzy are not yet known, but regardless, this past season showed how thin the Irish receiving ranks are. If Merriweather arrives on campus ready to play, he almost certainly will.
Long-term depth chart impact: Current freshmen Lorenzo Styles and Deion Colzie should be the receiving leaders once Austin and Lenzy move on, be that this offseason or next, but behind them is anyone’s guess, with only fellow freshman Jayden Thomas remaining on the depth chart.
Merriweather could start in the 2023 opener, perhaps at the latest.
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