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Sons of Legends: Notre Dame's Emphasis on Legacy Players

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

Photo via Tom Lemming


With the recent commitment of star 2025 tight end James Flanigan, it has become clear that Notre Dame is bringing in a lot of legacy talent. His father, Jim, was a star at ND in the 90s, and the staff thinks James can be similarly successful. Family connections run deep through the Notre Dame community and that has been reflected in football recruiting in recent years. Whether it is Flanigan, Nathaniel Owusu-Boateng, Bryce Young, or Jerome Bettis Jr., Freeman and his staff have given alums plenty of reason to be back on campus. However, when these players commit to the program, their merit is often questioned, so below, I will break down them and their profiles as prospects.


James Flanigan

Flanigan committed this weekend, and at 6-foot-5, 220 pounds out of Notre Dame De La Baie Academy in Wisconsin, he appears to be the real deal. Ranked number 145 nationally and the third-best tight end by the 247Sports Composite, he immediately becomes one of the top players in Notre Dame’s 2025 class. Thus far, Flanigan has had solid production for a high school tight end with 17 receptions, 377 yards, and six touchdowns in his junior campaign. The talented athlete also plays linebacker on defense and has totaled 39 tackles, five TFLs, and four sacks. He has even proven to be a star in track and field, competing at an elite level in both discus and shotput throughout high school. When you watch his film, it becomes clear that James possesses elite athleticism. This may not come as a surprise considering his father’s NFL pedigree, but he is impressive to watch. With size that rivals any prospect and a frame that should only fill out further, the combination of speed and size should be deadly for opposing defenses. After losing star recruit Nate Roberts, it was unclear where Coach Parker would go at the position, but Flanigan is a great replacement who should carry on the TEU tradition at Notre Dame. This was certainly not a move made to satisfy an important alum, but one that would add an elite prospect to the class.


Bryce Young

When Bryce joined the 2024 class back in April, there were questions about his production. Then regarded as a three-star player, Young was coming off a junior campaign with only six TFLs and three sacks. At the same time, however, the frame and athleticism, as well as the history of his father, left hope for many ND fans. At 6-foot-5, 240 pounds, the defensive end has come into his own in his senior campaign. He has been a difference-maker all over the field for Charlotte Christian and the nation has begun to take notice. Young recently secured an invite to the All-American Bowl and has been upgraded to a four-star, ranked number 163 nationally, and the 22nd defensive lineman according to the 247Sports Composite. The film from this year shows a much more polished player who still possesses elite athleticism. With a very wide frame, Bryce could end up on the inside like his father, but right now his speed flashes on the edge. He ran an 11.45-second 100-meter dash and 22.99-second 200-meter last spring, which are fairly strong given the size. No matter how he fills out, Notre Dame has a talented player arriving in the fall and any questions about his merit have certainly been answered.


Players to Watch for Soon

Jerome Bettis Jr. is a major target on the receiving board for the 2025 class. As far as anyone knows, he is a take for the staff should he choose the Irish. For a long time now, insiders have felt he is a strong Notre Dame lean, but he has yet to make a decision. His father is a man who needs no introduction to ND fans, and some of this recruitment is a bet on the family. So far, he has 20 receptions for 222 yards and three touchdowns in seven games. This is solid production for a junior in high school, but it is also not the elite level that we’ll see from select prospects. Watching his film from this year and from the summer shows a far more talented player than these numbers suggest, and at this point, we should trust the staff’s evaluations at the position. He has impressive size and demonstrates smoothness and athleticism that should translate well. Nathaniel Owusu-Boateng is the brother of a former player, but the trend continues here. He is a high-end five-star prospect who is possibly the best linebacker prospect in the country. Notre Dame has a shot with him, but it will be a long battle. Definitely keep an eye on these players as the 2025 class rounds out.


These are the major names floating around right now, but it is unlikely that this trend will stop. Not only do family connections give something to leverage while recruiting, but it can also add confidence in a player’s background and development trajectory. Even for a player like Kennedy Urlacher, knowing his father’s background was likely helpful for the staff when envisioning his ultimate maturity as a football player. All of these prospects look to be elite and could be major difference-makers in the coming years.



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