Notre Dame football: Meet the newest additions ahead of 2022 season

Fernando Ramirez
South Bend Tribune


Brandon Joseph (Safety)

From Northwestern | HT: 6-1 | WT: 185 | College Station, Texas

Joseph is coming in and filling the void left by Kyle Hamilton, who was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens. During the spring, Joseph made numerous plays like intercepting passes. He has shown to be able to read the quarterback well, having tight coverage, and tackling. He should be a solid addition to the defense.

“He is bringing some maturity and leadership, which is great,” defensive coordinator Al Golden said. “It's great to see. So, as he gets more comfortable with the system, we're hoping that that continues to come on, because you can see glimpses of it.”

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Chris Smith (Defensive line)

From Harvard | HT: 6-2 | WT: 300 | Bloomfield Hills, Mich.

Smith will see an increase of snaps as a graduate transfer due to some of the injuries to the defensive line like Aidan Keanaaina tearing his ACL. Smith had 40 tackles, 5 tackles for loss, and 3.5 sacks last season at Harvard. Smith’s strength is impressive especially when the ball is snapped because he is able to shed off guards quickly to make plays on pass and run plays.

Blake Grupe (Kicker)

From Arkansas State | HT: 5-8 | WT: 150 | Sedalia, Mo.

Grupe is a graduate transfer. He made 20-of-25 field goals in 2021. Grupe made three field goals in a game (vs. Texas State) as his career high while his longest field goal is 50 yards (vs. Tulsa).

“He is kicking from 55 (yards) in pre-practice, and I trust him to be able to hit from 55,” special teams coach Brian Mason said. “He made it easy earlier at the beginning of practice, so I think he has more than good enough of a leg.”


Jaylen Sneed (Linebacker)

5-star | HT: 6-2 | WT: 210 | Hilton Head Island, S.C.

Sneed is coming into a crowded linebacker group, but he could be asked to put in some work on special teams. He is so athletic that he is able to blow past either tackle and disrupt the back field whether it is by sacking the quarterback or getting a tackle for loss. He is a tackling machine even when facing a guard or tackle, he sheds them off and makes the necessary play.

Notre Dame linebacker Jaylen Sneed (17) during Notre Dame Spring Practice on Saturday, April 02, 2022, at Irish Athletics Center in South Bend, Indiana.

Tyson Ford (Defensive lineman)

4-star | HT: 6-5 | WT: 260 | St. Louis

When Ford engages with an offensive lineman it is interesting to see what different move he will use. It could be a swim move or a straight bull rush. Ford has the coaches excited because of his high motor and play-making ability on the defensive side. Regardless if it is a pass or run, Ford is able to make plays to help the defense. He could also be a special teams candidate.

Josh Burnham (Linebacker)

4-star | HT: 6-4 | WT: 225 | Traverse City, Mich.

Burnham is a tall linebacker who has incredible close-out speed. When he realizes where the ball is going, he zeroes in on the target and launches himself after them. One of his biggest strengths is being able to read the back field. His athleticism is off the charts, and he is able to pop balls loose when tackling.

Billy Schrauth (Offensive line)

4-star | HT: 6-5 | WT: 300 | Fond Du Lac, Wisc.

Schrauth is an aggressive guard that can maul players over especially on goal-line situations. While in the run game, he can get up on the defensive levels quickly. On pass protection, he is able to engage his first defender and if need be, help his fellow offensive lineman. He might challenge for a starting position.

Notre Dame offensive lineman Billy Schrauth (74) during the Notre Dame Blue-Gold Spring Football game on Saturday, April 23, 2022, at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend.

Joey Tanona (Offensive line)

4-star | HT: 6-5 | WT: 295 | Zionsville, Ind.

Tanona is as strong in pass protection as he is in the run. He is able to shed his first defender and get up to the second level during run plays. On pass plays, he sometimes can engage his first defender while the guard picks him up and Tanona then takes care of the pass rusher or blitzer. He has good recognition.

Niuafe Tuihalamaka (Linebacker)

4-star | HT: 6-2 | WT: 235 | Mission Hills, Calif.

When the ball is snapped Tuihalamaka patiently waits to see what the quarterback does. Once the ball is handed off, he darts after the ball carrier and can make a play on them. He is an above average tackler that could help on special teams. The linebacking group is very deep, so special teams will be the area that Tuihalamaka will see playing time, so his skill set should be an improvement for them.

Aiden Gobaira (Edge rusher)

4-star | HT: 6-4.5 | WT: 230 | Chantilly, Va.

Gobaira has the potential to grow into the best pass rusher on the Notre Dame roster. His hand swiping is his first move then he turns the accelerator on to blow past the tackle to get the sack. He is also a vicious hitter, which can cause the opposing quarterback to fumble the football. He is long, fast and could learn from fellow pass rusher Isaiah Foskey.

Jadarian Price (Running back)

4-star | HT: 5-11 | WT: 180 | Denison, Texas

Price is a skilled running back, who unfortunately won’t be able to help his team this season after suffering a torn Achilles on June 24th. During the Blue-Gold game, he showed glimpses of his potential contribution after scoring a 51-yard touchdown.

Jaden Mickey (Cornerback)

4-star | HT: 5-11.5 | WT: 175 | Corona, Calif.

Mickey is one player whom the coaches and team are very excited to see in fall camp. He is very aggressive when the ball is snapped so he can keep the receiver close but if by some reason he might be beaten even a little bit he turns on the after burners and makes a play on the ball. He is always alert and could also be a good returner on special teams.

“He’s a competitive guy, and that’s what we have to be at corner,” cornerbacks coach Mike Mickens explained. “That’s his zone he plays in, and I love that about him that he has a fire about him. He meets a lot off the field. He’s a film junkie, and he studies a bunch. So the reason why he makes plays on the field is because he understands what’s happening. He’s just a mature kid.”

Notre Dame defensive back Jaden Mickey (21) during the Notre Dame Blue-Gold Spring Football game on Saturday, April 23, 2022, at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend.

Nolan Ziegler (Linebacker)

4-star | HT: 6-4 | WT: 210 | Grand Rapids, Mich.

Ziegler played numerous positions in high school which helped build up his instincts. Playing safety helped him be able to be in coverage while being able to keep an eye on the quarterback. He also played outside linebacker, which may be his position with Notre Dame. Ziegler had 120 tackles, nine sacks and six forced fumbles in his final prep year. His instincts along with his speed should help with his ability to cover running backs, tight ends and receivers.

Steve Angeli (Quarterback)

4-star | HT: 6-3 | WT: 215 | Oradell, N.J.

Angeli is a freshman quarterback that impressed during the Blue-Gold Game. He played in the second half of the game completing 11 of 17 passes for 180-yards including a 51-yard touchdown. He also had the game winning 10-yard touchdown run.  

"Steve took it in his own hands, knew it was the last play of the game,” running backs coach Deland McCullough said after the game. He'd had a great attitude these last few days. I was just happy to see him in that position."

Aamil Wagner (Offensive line)

4-star | HT: 6-6 | WT: 265 | Dayton, Ohio

Wagner is so strong that at times he is able to maul over two defenders. His real strength is being able to hit the second level of the defense. He is quick and athletic, so he will be able to get out on screens and be a wrecking ball.

Tobias Merriweather (Wide receiver)

4-star | HT: 6-4 | WT: 185 | Camas, Wash.

Merriweather has a good first step when the ball is hiked to not allow the cornerback to put his hands on him. If he continues to develop that it will only help him ascend. When he makes a catch and turns up field his afterburners are impressive. Another impressive trait for  Merriweather is his blocking down field.

“He's so selfless and in his willingness to do whatever it takes to help the team. If that means playing special teams, if that means being the gunner on punt, if that means whatever it takes, he'll do it with a smile,” his high school head coach Rory Rosenbach said. “He said ‘coach, as long as we're winning and guys are eating, I'm good.’”

Eli Raridon (Tight end)

4-star | HT: 6-6 | WT: 228 | Valley (West Des Moines, Iowa

Raridon was a touchdown machine his senior year going from two the previous year to ten his last one. When watching him it is easy to tell that he is good at getting open while he has unique speed for a tight end. He also doesn’t stay in one place if the quarterback can’t find him on the initial route, he will get himself open.

Another area of Raridon’s game that stands out is his blocking ability. It is no surprise because his father, Scott, played offensive line for Notre Dame in the early 2000s.

Ty Chan (Offensive line)

4-star | HT: 6-6 | WT: 300 | Groton, Mass.

Chan is a big bodied offensive lineman that uses his big hands to control the defender. One impressive aspect of his game is he is able to knock over one defender and get to the next level quickly to help open up a running lane.

Holden Staes (Tight end)

4-star | HT: 6-4 | WT: 230 | Atlanta

The freshman tight end has big-play ability. During his final season, what stands out about him is his ability to come down with jump balls or 50-50 balls. Westminster School used him in the slot as well as on the outside, so that should help him to adapt to Tommy Rees’ offense

Benjamin Morrison (Cornerback)

4-star | HT: 6-0.5 | WT: 175 | Phoenix

Morrison could be an impact player on special teams during his freshman year because of his history of playing it in high school. He blocked two field goals and a punt. Morrison also is a solid tackler, so he could be used as a gunner on punt and even on kickoff.

Ashton Craig (Offensive line)

4-star | HT: 6-5 | WT: 283 | Lawrenceburg Ind.

Craig was an offensive tackle in high school that waited to see what move the defensive lineman would make then he would react. He is good at putting his hands on the defender and controlling them. He is impressively strong because at times he is able to shake defenders off or even drive them back 10 to 15 yards.

Donovan Hinish (Defensive line)

3-star | HT: 6-2 | WT: 275 | Pittsburgh

Hinish is a powerful defensive lineman that was a disrupter in high school. He sacked the opposing quarterback eight times while adding 16 tackles for loss in his senior year. He will need to lower his pad level when playing in college, but he is talented. He is the younger brother of former Irish captain Kurt, who was an anchor for the defensive line during his tenure. He will be able to learn from his brother and come in with some thoughtful notes.

Bryce McFerson (Punter)

3-star | HT: 6-1 | WT: 185 | Indian Trail, N.C.

McFerson was the number-one ranked punter in the nation by Chris Sailer Kicking. He averaged 46 yards per punt and could be a difference maker for the special teams in the future. During his senior year, he was able to punt the ball over the returners head and place it numerous times within the 20-yard line.

Jayden Bellamy (Cornerback)

3-star | HT: 5-11 | WT: 175 | Oradell, N.J.

Bellamy played both cornerback and wide receiver in high school. It seems like he uses his knowledge of playing receiver to play cornerback. On certain coverages, he warps both hands around the receiver’s hands to make it difficult to catch. His father, Jay, played 14 seasons in the NFL with the New Orleans Saints and Seattle Seahawks.