In addition to the 21 freshmen who will be on scholarship in 2017, Notre Dame is adding six rookie preferred walk-ons to the roster — including a couple of legacy figures and others with previous allegiance to the school.
A preferred walk-on is defined as someone who is guaranteed a spot on the 105-man roster in August camp, whereas regular walk-ons have to go through tryouts to see if they can earn a spot. Alphabetically, the six are:
• Quarterback JD Carney, 5-10, 160, Cathedral Catholic, San Diego, Calif.
Son of 1984-86 Notre Dame kicker John Carney, the fifth all-time leading scorer in NFL history. He is from the same high school as classmate/safety Jordan Genmark Heath and incoming freshman lacrosse player Morrison Mirer — son of 1989-92 Irish quarterback Rick Mirer.
In 2016, Cathedral Catholic captured the CIF State Bowl Championship in Division 1-AA.
• Safety Cameron Ekanayake — 6-2, 200, Edwardsburg (Mich.) High School
A quarterback/safety for the school located about 25 minutes from Notre Dame, Ekanayake’s mother Sureeni is a Notre Dame graduate who works in the school’s investment office as an accounting manager. Aspiring toward a medical career, Ekanayake has taken advanced courses in calculus, statistics, biology and chemistry.
• Center Colin Grunhard, 6-1, 270, Bishop Miege, Roeland Park, Kansas
Father Tim Grunhard thrived at Notre Dame from 1986-89, starting for the 1988 national champs at guard while posting a school record 23-game winning streak, and he started throughout the 1990s at center for the Kansas City Chiefs. The younger Grunhard played with Irish receiver recruit Jafar Armstrong at Bishop Miege. His offers included Air Force, Colgate and South Dakota.
• Tight End/receiver Jack Henige, 6-5, 205, Fenwick High, Oak Park, Ill.
Named Academic All-State on an 11-2 team that lost a controversial playoff overtime contest to Plainfield North in the Class 7A semifinals. At Fenwick, he played with Will Lattner (DePauw) — grandson of 1953 Notre Dame Heisman Trophy winner John Lattner (also a Fenwick grad) — and also was on the Chicago Catholic League champion Friars basketball team last year.
• Safety John Mahoney, 6-0, 198, West Des Moines (Iowa) Valley
First-team all-state in Class 4A took visits to Notre Dame, Princeton — he scored 35 of a possible 36 on the ACT — Drake, Iowa State, Minnesota State, Cornell and Colgate. He was featured earlier this week on Blueandgold.com as someone who could find a niche on special teams.
• Safety Patrick Pelini, 6-1, 160, Cardinal Mooney, Youngstown, Ohio
Son of Bo Pelini, Nebraska’s head coach from 2008-14 who led Youngstown State to the FCS title game this past season. The younger Pelini attended Irish Invasion last year, and his father was at the Notre Dame Coaches Clinic last year, with his presentation on defending a spread offense.
Like Grunhard, Pelini was recruited by the Air Force Academy.
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