InsideNDSports - Four-star OT Elijah Paige commits to Notre Dame
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Four-star OT Elijah Paige commits to Notre Dame

Four-star offensive tackle Elijah Paige, a 2023 recruit, announced a commitment to Notre Dame on Friday.
Four-star offensive tackle Elijah Paige, a 2023 recruit, announced a commitment to Notre Dame on Friday. (Rivals Graphic/Nick Lucero)

Elijah Paige never imagined he wouldn’t take all five of his official visits.

The four-star offensive tackle made an official visit to UCLA in May and had four more official visits planned in June to Notre Dame, Michigan State, USC and Washington.

But after the 6-foot-6, 295-pound Paige spent a couple days at Notre Dame last weekend, he knew he didn’t need to see anything else. Paige announced Friday a verbal commitment to the Irish.

“It’s just different at Notre Dame,” Paige said. “The mix of academics and football is something you don’t get everywhere. You don’t go anywhere else in the country where you get that great of an education and compete for a national title every year.

“With what (head) coach (Marcus) Freeman’s doing and what I know he’s going to do, I definitely want to be a part of it.”

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The recruiting wave Notre Dame’s been riding since Freeman took over in December, following Brian Kelly’s departure to LSU, still hasn’t crested for the Irish. Paige became the third recruit to verbally commit to Notre Dame this week following three-star offensive guard Joe Otting joining the top-ranked 2023 class Tuesday and four-star quarterback CJ Carr joining the second-ranked 2024 class on Thursday.

Offensive line coach Harry Hiestand, who was hired in January for his second stint at Notre Dame, has already accumulated four offensive line commitments. Four-star offensive tackles Sam Pendleton and Sullivan Absher, both of whom are on official visits to Notre Dame this weekend, pledged to the Irish in April and May, respectively.

Paige became the first 2023 offensive lineman to receive a new scholarship offer from Hiestand in February. Within a couple months, Notre Dame started to push for Paige to join the class.

Rivals previously rated Paige as a three-star recruit out of Phoenix Pinnacle, but he was bumped to a four-star rating in the latest ratings update this week. He’s now ranked as the No. 36 offensive tackle in the class.

"What stands out most about Paige as a player is his versatility and ability to run and pass block,” said Rivals national recruiting director Adam Gorney. “Mainly used at left tackle, Paige has the athleticism and toughness to move around the offensive line and still make a significant impact. He's also massive with almost no bad weight, so he should have no problem transitioning to whatever Notre Dame wants to do with him on offense.

“After his recent visit to South Bend, Paige knew he found the right spot and has cancelled all other visits. He wants to be at Notre Dame and should be a tremendous addition to this loaded offensive line class."

WATCH HIGHLIGHTS FROM PAIGE'S JUNIOR SEASON HERE

The Irish now have commitments from three of the top 36 offensive tackles in the 2023 class in Pendleton (No. 23), Absher (No. 26) and Paige (No. 36). Pendleton will likely become an interior lineman like Otting, who isn’t ranked among Rivals’ top 30 offensive guards. Absher could too.

Notre Dame has continued to pursue two other offensive tackles in the 2023 class: Mount Pleasant (S.C.) Oceanside Academy’s Monroe Freeling and Rock Island (Ill.) Alleman Catholic’s Charles Jagusah. Freeling, the No. 8 offensive tackle and No. 101 overall prospect in the class, is currently on an official visit to Notre Dame this weekend. Jagusah (No. 10 OT, No. 122 overall) is scheduled for an official visit later this month.

After former assistant coach Jeff Quinn signed five offensive linemen in each of the previous two recruiting classes, Hiestand might not have the wiggle room to add six offensive linemen in the 2023 class. So the clock may be ticking for Freeling or Jagusah to make a decision if they want the fifth spot.

The Irish extended their lead as Rivals’ top-ranked 2023 class with Paige providing commitment No. 15. The class consists of one five-star recruit (defensive end Keon Keeley), one three-star recruit (Otting) and 13 four-star recruits.

Only three other programs have as many total commitments — Texas Tech with 20, Cincinnati with 18 and Northwestern with 17 — as Notre Dame has four-star commitments. Ohio State, which owns the fourth-ranked class, has the second-most four-star commitments, with nine.

Paige, who attends the same high school that produced current Irish offensive tackle Tosh Baker, said the Irish class didn’t play much of a role in his recruitment. But he still has high expectations for it.

“It’s obviously great to be a part of this class,” Paige said. “This class is special. I know this class is going to win a national title.”

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