Nine Freshmen Walk-Ons Join 2018 Notre Dame Roster
This year’s 27-scholarship freshman class is the largest single haul in a year at Notre Dame since inking 28 in 2006.
Overshadowed is nine preferred walk-on freshmen will augment the group while aiding the scout team and practice sessions. Earlier this summer the University released the names for publication in Blue & Gold Illustrated’s 2018 Football Preview. Overall, 119 players are listed on the roster, the maximum 85 on scholarship plus 34 walk-ons.
By position, the breakdown for the nine freshmen walk-ons is as follows, with their jersey numbers listed first:
31 Cole Capen, 6-5, 225, Orange, Calif. (Orange Lutheran)
Odd number for a QB in more ways than one, but joins fellow Californian J.D. Carney (son of 1983-86 Notre Dame kicker John Carney) , a sophomore, and senior Nolan Henry, as walk-on signal callers.
26 Leo Albano, 6-1, 200, Charleston, S.C. (Bishop England)
43 Greg Mailey, 6-2, 185, Hudson, Ohio (Hudson)
Albano actually was a pro-style quarterback at Bishop England.
Mailey’s family has previous ties to Notre Dame, and he also received a preferred walk-on offer from the in-state Buckeyes.
63 Cody Benjamin, 6-5, 245, Tampa, Fla. (Berkley Prep)
64 Max Siegel, 6-3, 280, Indianapolis, Ind. (Brebeuf Jesuit Prep)
Benjamin, whose scholarship offers included Holy Cross and Davidson, played alongside Nicholas Petit-Frere, a five-star offensive lineman who signed with Ohio State.
Siegel’s father, also Max, received both his undergraduate (1986) and law degrees (1992) from the University of Notre Dame and has had a long-standing friendship with Fighting Irish director of athletics Jack Swarbrick in Indianapolis. His son played center at Brebeuf.
Cornerback Or Receiver
29 Matt Salerno, 6-0, 175, Encino, Calif. (Crespi)
43 Marcus Thorne, 6-2, 200, Washington, Ind. (Washington)
Salerno, who also starred in soccer and lacrosse, grew up a Notre Dame fan and plans to major in engineering. He caught 77 passes as a senior and was first-team All-Mission League with Stanford recruit Michael Wilson.
Thorne’s father, also Marcus Thorne, played fullback at Notre Dame as a walk-on from 1993-95 and was the backup to Marc Edwards as a senior, carrying five times for 49 yards and a touchdown.
16 Jake Rittman, 6-3, 195, Lawrence, Kan. (Free State)
His older brother Justin was a walk-on running back at UCLA. Rittman, who also handled kickoffs, averaged 39.5 yards per punt as a senior and caught 29 passes for 507 yards and four scores.
65 Michael Vinson, 6-3, 230, Winnetka, Ill. (New Trier)
A potential contingency option in case junior starter John Shannon is injured. Like predecessors Jordan Cowart (2009-12), Scott Daly (2013-16) and Shannon, Vinson is from Illinois and excelled at Chris Rubio’s camp for specialists.