Notre Dame Winning Head-To-Head Battles In Michigan Vs. Wolverines
I suppose it’s debatable, but I hold the opinion that Notre Dame’s biggest rival on the recruiting front currently is Michigan. The Fighting Irish and Wolverines are often involved with the same recruits and go toe-to-toe with prospects from all over the country.
Michigan wins some battles. Notre Dame wins some battles. There is one recent trend in the past several months that is interesting to note.
The Fighting Irish have gone into the state of Michigan and stolen away three prospects that the Wolverines wanted since last August.
Notre Dame stealing Clarkston (Mich.) High’s Rocco Spindler, the nation’s No. 4 offensive guard and No. 67 overall recruit in the 2021 class per Rivals, was the recruiting win for the Irish that stung its rival the most.
It was always a Michigan-Notre Dame battle for Spindler, and it was a close one. In fact, Spindler’s father, Marc, told BlueandGold.com during an interview last October that when Rocco informed him that he wanted to commit, he figured it would be Michigan. But the two-way mauler picked the Irish over the Wolverines and enrolled at Notre Dame in February as part of the 2021 class.
Last August, Notre Dame beat out Michigan for Grand Rapids (Mich.) Catholic Central linebacker Nolan Ziegler, the No. 9 player in his home state and the No. 20 “athlete” in America.
Ziegler had a great-grandfather who played running back at Michigan several decades ago and also had a couple of relatives who donned Notre Dame’s blue and gold. He had strong ties to both programs, but after just 17 days of receiving his offer from the Irish, he made his commitment to Notre Dame.
The most recent head-to-head win for Notre Dame against Michigan in the Great Lakes State was on Wednesday evening. The Irish went all the way up to Traverse City (Mich.) Central to land Joshua Burnham, the No. 3 recruit in Michigan and the nation’s No. 5 inside linebacker and No. 141 overall player.
This one stung the Wolverines because Burnham was long considered a Michigan lean, but the 6-3, 200-pounder chose the Irish on St. Patrick’s Day.
“Notre Dame has had a great history of players from Michigan,” Prep Football Report’s Tom Lemming said. “Jerome Bettis is probably the most famous; they took him right away from Bo Schembechler. It came down to those two schools. ... With Notre Dame being a national team, they’ve had a great history recruiting the state of Michigan.
“It shows the Notre Dame reach, especially on the defensive side of the ball with Mike Elston and Marcus Freeman. It looks like there’s no stopping them. They’re a dynamic duo recruiting defensive players.”
As one could imagine, Notre Dame isn’t plucking anyone and everyone out of Michigan. The Wolverines beat Notre Dame out for five-star cornerback Will Johnson, a Michigan legacy. In the 2021 cycle, the Irish badly wanted four-star running back Donovan Edwards and were also recruiting three-star receiver Andrel Anthony and four-star lineman Rayshaun Benny during the process, but all three inked with Michigan.
As things currently stand in the 2022 class, the only other battle we expect between the Wolverines and Fighting Irish in the state of Michigan will be for Birmingham (Mich.) Groves safety Jaden Mangham, Rivals’ No. 7 player in his home state and the No. 19 “athlete” nationally.
There may be more battles between the two midwestern powers on the horizon in the 2023 cycle as well. Notre Dame and Michigan have both offered Detroit Cass Tech defensive lineman Jalen Thompson, and Detroit Martin Luther King quarterback Dante Moore.
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