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Championship Pedigrees: The Ex-NFL to Notre Dame Pipeline Continues to Grow

Written by Connor D'Aquila ⏐ Writer ⏐ Twitter/X: @ConnorDaquilaIT

Photo via X/@elijahburress


Just a few short months ago, I wrote an article detailing the uptick in legacy recruiting we were seeing from the Notre Dame staff. Between James Flanigan and Bryce Young, it was hard to ignore the sons of former Irish stars becoming priorities for the coaching staff - and for good reason. Today, this has escalated even further, with the emphasis remaining squarely on players with elite football talent in their DNA, but not necessarily those whose fathers have played for the Irish. Since publishing that article, Ivan Taylor and Elijah Burress, sons of Ike Taylor and Plaxico Burress respectively, have committed to the Irish, and Jerome Bettis Jr. remains a top target. Do not get it twisted, however, these players are elite talents who just happen to have well-known fathers. Taylor is a bona fide star and was a major pickup for Notre Dame, while Burress is a more underrated player who many think will see a major ranking jump in the coming year. Prioritizing these players makes sense for a coach like Freeman, who has an NFL background and likely sees value in the training and mentorship these players have received from a young age. Let's take a look at these NFL legacy commits and what they bring to the table.





Ivan Taylor

This is a recruitment that has become slightly more uncertain in recent days with the departure of safeties coach Chris O’Leary. Most signs point to the star safety staying true to his commitment, but the departure of a positional coach will always bring uncertainty. Mike Mickens is also the best replacement Irish fans could ask for and should add some confidence in their ability to keep him. Nonetheless, as it stands, Taylor is the top-ranked player in Notre Dame’s 2025 class with a four-star and number 61 overall ranking by the 247Sports Composite. Out of West Orange High School in Florida, he plays in the state’s top division with some of the best talent in the country. Ivan has also made an impact on varsity since his freshman year, an impressive achievement for any player. Understandably, Notre Dame had some stiff competition in this recruitment, but the ability to excel academically and athletically prevailed, as his father understood the temporary nature of football. This is always a major part of Notre Dame’s pitch, but it seems to resonate well with the recruits whose parents understand the difficulty of a long career in football. The “four for forty” pitch helped the Irish land a player who flashes impressive athleticism and an eye for the game that is hard to teach. Notre Dame fans should be over the moon about this pickup, should Taylor stay true to his pledge come signing day.


Elijah Burress

Burress brings a unique skill set to the Irish offense. In 2023, he hauled in 434 yards and five touchdowns at DePaul Catholic, which is impressive, but not the numbers we have seen from some other top recruits. After watching his film and examining the skillset, however, it is clear why the ND staff fell in love with Burress. While still raw and a bit undersized, his athleticism and knowledge of the game is elite and should translate well with time and a college strength program. Ranked 520 overall on the 247 Sports Composite, Notre Dame got in at the right time and moved quickly with his recruitment. They did not offer until January 11th but got him out for a visit soon after, and he was committed by February 10th. This is another case where his family knew the importance of an education and Notre Dame quickly stood out on that front. Making such quick work of the recruitment is also a good sign for receivers coach Mike Brown and what he will be able to accomplish moving forward. At the end of the day, this is a player who lacks size at the moment, but has incredible athleticism and potential. His mother was also a track and field athlete at Penn State, which is just another good sign for his athletic development.





Whether it is a concerted effort by Coach Freeman or Notre Dame’s message resonating with ex-NFL players, it is undeniable that we have seen an increase in NFL last names committing to the Irish. Not only does it add great storylines, but it also brings players who are ready for the next level and have been taught well from a young age. We can only hope this will continue, and it appears it will with Jerome Bettis Jr. still on deck for the 2025 class. Adding pieces with Bettis, Taylor, and even Urlacher (2024 safety commit) DNA should never be viewed as a negative for Notre Dame. 


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