Eight is enough: Meet the latest crop of June enrollees for Notre Dame football (2024)

SOUTH BEND — Notre Dame football coach Marcus Freeman hears the question every recruiting cycle, regardless of where that particular class might rank on the national dartboards.

“I have recruits and parents that (ask) me all the time: ‘Is he going to be behind if he doesn’t start midyear?’ “ Freeman said on early signing day in December. “Academically, yeah, you miss a semester. But in terms of the opportunity to play football … some of the greatest players we've had as freshmen, here or in my career, have been in the summer.”

Kyle Hamilton, now a rising star at safety with the Baltimore Ravens, flashed from Day 1 at Notre Dame after enrolling in June of 2019, a year and a half before Freeman’s arrival on campus.

Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, NFL defensive rookie of the year after the New York Jets took him fourth overall in 2022, didn’t enroll at Cincinnati until July of 2019. His rise was so sudden, the Irish hired away his cornerbacks coach, Mike Mickens, the following offseason.

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And Benjamin Morrison, a freshman All-American at cornerback for the Irish in 2022? He, too, didn’t report from Brophy Prep in Arizona until that summer.

And last fall, two-sport sensation Jordan Faison didn’t show up in South Bend until June. All the shifty slot receiver did in his first year was follow up Sun Bowl MVP honors with a national title in lacrosse.

The former walk-on had plenty of company in terms of June-to-achievement in the 2023 class of summer enrollees. Charles Jagusah started the Sun Bowl at left tackle, while running back Jeremiyah Love, tight end Cooper Flanagan and Vyper end Boubacar Traore all saw their playing time increase as the year went on.

In the 2024 signing class, a whopping 15 midyear enrollees got a taste of college ball this spring.

“There’s no wrong, coming in early or coming in the summer,” Freeman said. “It’s whatever is the preference of that student-athlete.”

Here’s a look at the eight freshman enrollees this month for Notre Dame football with July 31 and the start of fall camp just around the bend:

Eight is enough: Meet the latest crop of June enrollees for Notre Dame football (1)

Guerby Lambert, offensive tackle

Blake Fisher won a starting job at tackle as a freshman in time for the 2021 season opener. Could Lambert follow suit now that Fisher has moved on to the NFL as a second-round draft pick of the Houston Texans?

Listed at 6-foot-6 and 280 pounds, Lambert has the frame, the smarts and the agility to project as a future bookend at tackle along with Jagusah. Should untested third-year Aamil Wagner or veteran Tosh Baker (the Sun Bowl starter) fail to lock up the starting job on the right side this August, Lambert could provide a tempting alternative.

Harvard was the runner-up for Lambert’s services, which should tell you plenty about the aptitude of this four-star recruit. Nicknamed “The Dancing Bear” for his quick feet, the former youth soccer standout started from his freshman year on at Catholic Memorial in West Roxbury, Mass.

Traore was a year ahead of Lambert in that program.

Eight is enough: Meet the latest crop of June enrollees for Notre Dame football (2)

Logan Saldate, wide receiver

A four-star signee from Salinas, Calif., Saldate will have to work his way up through a lengthy list of receivers to earn first-year playing time.

His potential, however, is obvious. Listed at 5-foot-11 and 185 pounds, Saldate flipped from an Oregon State commitment last July and has an older brother who wrestles at Michigan State. Saldate also wrestled for a year in high school while running track all four years.

A smooth route runner with excellent hands and catch radius, Saldate figures to start out in the slot behind the likes of Jaden Greathouse, Jordan Faison and Marshall transfer Jayden Harrison.

Leonard Moore/Karson Hobbs, cornerbacks

With the spring transfers of Clarence Lewis and Micah Bell, the door opened a bit for Moore and Hobbs in a depth capacity.

Three-star signees from Texas (Round Rock) and Cincinnati (Moeller High), respectively, they start out behind key returnees Benjamin Morrison, Christian Gray and Jaden Mickey. Fourth-year junior Chance Tucker also remains.

Eight is enough: Meet the latest crop of June enrollees for Notre Dame football (3)

Moore (6-2, 177 pounds) was a three-sport standout (track and basketball) in high school, has advanced ball skills and footwork but must add functional strength.

Hobbs (6-1, 180) flipped from South Carolina to Notre Dame more than 13 months before the early signing date.

Brauntae Johnson/Taebron Bennie-Powell, safeties

Johnson (6-3, 170) was a four-star get from Fort Wayne’s North Side High, where he also shined at receiver and on the basketball court. Johnson’s ball skills are advanced, but he’ll have to add bulk as he learns the position behind All-American Xavier Watts and Northwestern grad transfer Rod Heard II.

Bennie-Powell (6-1, 180) is from the same prep program in Ohio (Lakota West) that produced fellow Irish safety Ben Minich, now a redshirt freshman.

Eight is enough: Meet the latest crop of June enrollees for Notre Dame football (4)

Teddy Rezac/Bodie Kahoun, linebackers

Rezac (6-3, 195) is a three-star signee from Westside High in Omaha, Neb. A two-way standout whose identical twin (Anthony) is an Irish walk-on at quarterback, Rezac made 10 interceptions and pulled down 44 receptions during his prep career.

Kahoun (6-2, 214) is a three-star signee from Roanoke, Va., where he was a Butkus Award finalist. A converted safety who moved to linebacker as a junior, he turned down offers from Miami, Florida State and Tennessee.

Mike Berardino covers Notre Dame football for NDInsider.com and is on social media @MikeBerardino.

Eight is enough: Meet the latest crop of June enrollees for Notre Dame football (2024)
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