Notre Dame gets the letters: Tight ends Eli Raridon and Holden Staes
Valley High School; West Des Moines, IowaMeasurements: 6-foot-6, 220 pounds.Accolades: The consensus four-star prospect is considered the No. 5 tight end in the class and No. 178 prospect overall, per rivals.com.
Other notable offers: Raridon was the first tight end to join this class for Notre Dame, literal days ahead of Staes (below), committing to the Irish over offers from both his homestate powers, Iowa and Iowa State, as well as most of the Big Ten.
Projected position: Raridon looks like a downfield tight end more than an in-line blocker, his 6-foot-6 frame as used to dunking a basketball as leaping for a pass.
Quick take: Praise is going to follow Raridon and follow him soon. If he adds muscle to that lanky frame, his ceiling could fit right in with some of the bigger names to come through “Tight End U.” Raridon’s speed shines in the seam route that Irish offensive coordinator Tommy Rees has long adored both as a quarterback and as a play caller. File that thought away now.
Short-term roster outlook: Michael Mayer should get every pass possible in 2022. If Rees instructs his quarterback to make the All-American the first read on every play, that would be understandable. That should limit the possibilities for a receiving-first tight end already needing to add some heft.
Long-term depth chart impact: But once Mayer heads to the NFL after next season, Rees will need someone new to deploy as a large target downfield. It would be hard to envision a Notre Dame offense without one. That will be Raridon before long.
Westminster High School; AtlantaMeasurements: 6-foot-4, 230 pounds.Accolades: The rivals.com three-star is rated as the No. 23 tight end in the class and the No. 40 prospect in Georgia, continuing a Notre Dame focus on the Peach State. He will play in the Polynesian Bowl on Jan. 22.
Other notable offers: His rankings may not indicate it, but Staes was sought by Alabama, Florida State and his homestate Georgia, not to mention Lane Kiffin’s Mississippi, Texas and Nebraska. He originally committed to Penn State in August of 2020, a commitment that held up for six months.
Projected position: Tight end.
Quick take: Staes’ 6-foot-4 frame underscores his wingspan, an ideal trait in a tight end. Combine that with his crisp routes and Staes may already be a college-level receiver. The Irish will not lean on him until he proves an able blocker, but that has often been the shorter learning curve for Notre Dame tight ends.
Short-term roster outlook: The Irish were quietly very high on both Cane Berrong and Mitchel Evans this season, even if only Evans saw much playing time of the two freshmen. One of them is likely to step into George Takacs’ role as the complementary piece to All-American Michael Mayer, leaving only third-string reps or H-back duties for Staes.
Long-term depth chart impact: Mayer will be a first-round draft pick in 2023, opening up all sorts of possibilities for Notre Dame’s tight ends at that point. Berrong and Evans, along with current sophomore Kevin Bauman, may have the edge on Staes, but his edge in downfield action could change that pecking order before too long.
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