Jan 1, 2022; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Detailed view of a gold Notre Dame Fighting Irish helmet during the 2022 Fiesta Bowl at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Jerome Bettis Jr. to follow father to Notre Dame

Jerome Bettis Jr. is following in the footsteps of his Super Bowl champion father, committing Sunday to Notre Dame.

The younger Bettis is a 6-foot-2 wide receiver who plays at Woodward Academy in the Atlanta area. He is listed by the 247Sports composite as a three-star prospect in the Class of 2025.

He announced his commitment on social media on Sunday with a video.

“Growing up as a Bettis, I’ve heard about all the ways Notre Dame can change your life academically and athletically,” he said. “…I’m blessed to announce my commitment to the University of Notre Dame. Go Irish.”

His father played three seasons at Notre Dame (1990-92) and was the No. 10 overall pick by the Los Angeles Rams in the 1993 NFL Draft. He played three seasons with the Rams, then 10 with the Pittsburgh Steelers, winning the Super Bowl in his final campaign.

He ranks eighth all-time in NFL rushing yards with 13,662 and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2015.

–Field Level Media

Arizona State Sun Devils quarterback Drew Pyne (10) warms up before playing the Fresno State Bulldogs at Mountain America Stadium in Tempe on Sept. 16, 2023.

Report: Ex-Arizona State, Notre Dame QB Drew Pyne transfers to Missouri

Former Arizona State and Notre Dame quarterback Drew Pyne committed to Missouri, ESPN reported Sunday.

Pyne entered the NCAA transfer portal in December and re-enrolled at Notre Dame for the spring semester to earn his degree in American Studies. When he transferred to Arizona State, he was one semester short of graduation.

As a graduate transfer at Missouri, he’ll be eligible to play immediately and will have three years of eligibility remaining after factoring in a medical redshirt and the extra year granted by the NCAA for the pandemic-impacted season.

He’ll be joining a quarterback room headed by Brady Cook, who led Missouri to a Cotton Bowl victory over Ohio State in December and is returning for his final season of eligibility.

Backup quarterback Sam Horn will miss the upcoming season following Tommy John surgery.

Pyne, 23, began his college football career in 2020 at Notre Dame. He saw limited action the first two seasons, redshirting as a freshman, and started 10 games in 2022 with an 8-2 record, including 4-1 against top 25 teams.

The Connecticut native transferred to Arizona after the 2022 season but played in just two games for the Sun Devils because of a lingering hamstring injury and other injuries.

In his career, Pyne has appeared in 19 games, completing 61.6 percent of his passes for 2,530 yards with 26 touchdowns and nine interceptions.

–Field Level Media

Nov 7, 2020; South Bend, Indiana, USA; An end zone pylon has the Notre Dame and ACC logos in at Notre Dame Stadium before the game between the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the Clemson Tigers. Notre Dame is playing in the ACC in the 2020 season. Notre Dame defeated Clemson 47-40 in two overtimes. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Irish to mark 100th anniversary of Four Horsemen vs. Army

Notre Dame announced Wednesday the return of its Shamrock Series, this version to come against Army in New York in November that will also commemorate the 100th anniversary of the fabled Four Horsemen.

The game will be played Nov. 23 at Yankee Stadium.

It was Oct. 18, 1924, when Notre Dame upset Army 13-7 in a game that immortalized, thanks to Grantland Rice, the Irish backfield of Jim Crowley, Elmer Layden, Don Miller and Harry Stuhldreher.

The Shamrock Series began in 2009 at San Antonio when Notre Dame started to “take a home game on the road.” This will mark Notre Dame’s 12th Shamrock Series game. The Fighting Irish are 11-0 all-time in the series.

Army and Notre Dame will be meeting for the 52nd time overall. The Irish lead the series 39-8-4.

–Field Level Media

Oct 14, 2023; South Bend, Indiana, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish safety Xavier Watts (0) scores a touchdown in front of USC Trojans wide receiver Mario Williams (4) after a fumble recovery in the fourth quarter at Notre Dame Stadium. Notre Dame won 48-20. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Notre Dame All-American S Xavier Watts returning for 2024 season

Notre Dame unanimous All-American safety Xavier Watts has elected to return to the Fighting Irish for the 2024 season.

Watts simply said “run it back” on his various social media sites while pitching the video of his announcement. The video was filmed in a Western outdoor setting in El Paso, site of the Sun Bowl, and Watts dug up a gold bar out of the ground that said, “XAVIER WATTS returns in 2024.”

Notre Dame finished its season with a 40-8 shellacking of Oregon State at the Sun Bowl in El Paso on Friday.

Watts won the Bronko Nagurski Award as the nation’s top defensive player among a slew of honors.

Watts led the nation with seven interceptions. He added 52 tackles, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. He scored a touchdown on the fumble return during a 48-20 win over Southern California on Oct. 14.

Watts was a receiver when he arrived at Notre Dame and he played in two games in 2020 and redshirted. He moved to defense during the 2021 season when the Fighting Irish were dealing with injuries in the secondary and he has been a fixture at safety the past two seasons.

–Field Level Media

Dec 29, 2023; El Paso, TX, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish quarterback Steve Angeli (18) drops back to pass against the Oregon State Beavers defense in the first half at Sun Bowl Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ivan Pierre Aguirre-USA TODAY Sports

No. 16 Notre Dame steamrolls No. 19 Oregon State to win Sun Bowl

Steve Angeli passed for three touchdowns in his first career start as No. 16 Notre Dame shellacked No. 19 Oregon State 40-8 on Friday in the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas.

Angeli drew the start after Sam Hartman opted out of the game and he stood out by completing 14 of 18 passes for 212 yards for the Fighting Irish (10-3). Jordan Faison had five receptions for 115 yards and a touchdown and Jadarian Price rushed for 106 yards and a score for Notre Dame.

Jayden Thomas and Jeremiyah Love also caught touchdown passes and Chase Ketterer tacked on a rushing score for the Fighting Irish.

Ben Gulbranson was 16-of-27 passing for 180 yards, one touchdown and one interception for the Beavers (8-5), who lost their third straight game. Gulbranson threw just one pass in the regular season but became the starter for the bowl game after both DJ Uiagalelei and Aidan Chiles entered the transfer portal.

The Beavers were also without star running back Damien Martinez and leading tackler Easton Mascarenas-Arnold. In addition, wide receivers coach Kefense Hynson served as interim coach after Jonathan Smith departed for the Michigan State gig.

Oregon State avoided the shutout when Gulbranson tossed a 33-yard touchdown pass to Jimmy Valsin III with 6:19 left in the game. Tyler Voltin ran in for the two-point conversion.

The Fighting Irish outgained the Beavers 448-197. Oregon State netted 2 yards on the ground while Notre Dame piled up 236.

Notre Dame was dominant throughout and increased its lead to 24 with 10 third-quarter points.

Spencer Shrader booted a 44-yard field goal with 9:43 left in the third quarter to give the Fighting Irish a 17-0 lead.

Six-plus minutes later, Angeli threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to Faison.

In the fourth quarter, Notre Dame’s Gi’Bran Payne was stopped at the Oregon State 1-yard line on fourth down to turn the ball over to the Beavers.

On the next play, Oregon State’s Isaiah Newell couldn’t make it out of the end zone as the Fighting Irish added a safety with 11:24 remaining. Notre Dame then increased the lead to 33-0 on Angeli’s 13-yard touchdown pass to Love en route to finishing off the win.

Notre Dame limited the Beavers to 103 total yards while taking a 14-0 halftime advantage.

The Fighting Irish moved ahead when Angeli tossed an 8-yard scoring pass to Thomas with 6:47 left in the first quarter.

Price’s 1-yard run with 27 seconds left in the half gave Notre Dame the 14-point margin.

–Field Level Media

Aug 9, 2021; West Harrison, Indiana, USA; Cincinnati Bearcats offensive coordinator Mike Denbrock directs a drill during practice at the Higher Ground training facility. Mandatory Credit: Sam Greene/The Cincinnati Enquirer via USA TODAY NETWORK

Report: Notre Dame to name LSU’s Mike Denbrock as OC

LSU offensive coordinator Mike Denbrock is leaving the school for the same job at Notre Dame, multiple outlets reported Friday.

Denbrock, who has been coaching since 1990, first worked at Notre Dame from 2002-04, coaching offensive tackles and tight ends. After stints at Washington and Indiana State, he returned to the Irish from 2010-16, moved on to coach Luke Fickell’s staff in Cincinnati as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, then joined head coach Brian Kelly in LSU before the 2022 season.

The 59-year-old Denbrock was a finalist for the Broyles Award, given annually to the nation’s top assistant coach, after guiding a Tigers offense that leads the nation in yards (547.8) and points (46.4) per game.

Executing Denbrock’s vision, LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels won the Heisman Trophy.

Gerad Parker, recently hired as the head coach at Troy, most recently served as offensive coordinator for Notre Dame head coach Marcus Freeman.

–Field Level Media

Notre Dame offensive coordinator Gerad Parker during Notre Dame Fall Camp on Wednesday, July 26, 2023, at Irish Athletics Center in South Bend, Indiana.

Report: Troy picks Notre Dame OC Gerad Parker as coach

Troy is expected to announce the hire of Notre Dame offensive coordinator Gerad Parker as head coach on Monday, according to multiple reports.

Parker is replacing his former Kentucky football teammate Jon Sumrall, who left to become the head coach at Tulane earlier this month. Sumrall posted a 23-4 record in two seasons with the Trojans.

Parker has coached tight ends for the last two seasons at Notre Dame and added coordinator duties this season. Under his leadership, the Fighting Irish (9-3) ranked eighth in FBS with 39.1 points per game.

The move leaves Notre Dame coach Marcus Freeman looking for a third offensive coordinator in three seasons. Parker was the play-caller for Notre Dame in 2023.

Parker, 42, was the interim head coach at Purdue for the second half of the 2016 season after Darrell Hazell was fired, losing all six games.

A former wide receiver at Kentucky (2000-04), Parker has also worked as the offensive coordinator at West Virginia (2020-21) and as a receivers coach at Penn State, Duke, Purdue and Marshall.

Troy (11-2), champions of the Sun Belt Conference, is scheduled to face Duke (7-5) on Saturday in the Birmingham Bowl. Defensive coordinator Greg Gasparato is the Trojans’ interim coach.

–Field Level Media

Notre Dame All-American left tackle Joe Alt, like Fighting Irish quarterback Sam Hartman (10), decided to skip the Sun Bowl to begin preparation for the 2024 NFL Draft.

Notre Dame LT Joe Alt to skip Sun Bowl, enter NFL draft

Potential top-10 NFL draft pick Joe Alt of Notre Dame is skipping the Sun Bowl to get a jumpstart on preparation for his pro career.

The two-time All-American left tackle is rated in the top 13 among 2024 draft-eligible prospects by Field Level Media and is 15th on ESPN’s Big Board.

“What a ride it has been! From wearing 45 as a tight end to wearing 76 as a left tackle, I’m truly grateful for all the memories at this university and all the friends made on and off the field,” Alt posted on social media Wednesday. “I want to thank God for the abilities He has blessed me with and the opportunities he presented me with here at Notre Dame.”

Notre Dame plays Oregon State in the Sun Bowl on Dec. 29, but the Fighting Irish (9-3) are down a bunch of talent, including NFL-bound quarterback Sam Hartman and Alt.

Alt allowed one sack and four pressures in 2023, according to Pro Football Focus.

Alt is eligible to compete in the Senior Bowl but hasn’t confirmed his status for that all-star game in Mobile, Ala.

The converted tight end is expected to be a big draw at the 2024 NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, where his athleticism and size are a partial byproduct of NFL bloodlines. He’ll be trying to best his father, John Alt, an offensive tackle selected No. 21 by the Chiefs in 1984. He played 13 seasons in Kansas City. Like his son, he played tight end entering college (at Iowa), then converted to tackle.

He’ll also be in a battle to be the top-rated offensive tackle in the 2024 draft with Penn State’s Ola Fashanu. Fashanu was projected as a first-round pick in 2023 but opted to return to the Nittany Lions for another season.

It won’t take much to convince coaches that Joe Alt already knows what it means to be a pro. He watches film every week with his dad to find weaknesses and physical tells of opponents, and Notre Dame head coach Marcus Freeman said his preparation is closer to the equivalent of a coach, not a player.

Then there’s the physical traits.

Joe Alt was a 220-pound tight end as a junior in high school playing the tight end spot in Minnesota. He said he dedicated himself for more than 16 months, eating and lifting his way to hit 306 before his first day in South Bend.

At 6-8, 323, Alt started the past 33 consecutive games for the Fighting Irish and was named All-American each of the past two seasons.

–Field Level Media

Oct 28, 2023; Louisville, Kentucky, USA;  Duke Blue Devils quarterback Riley Leonard (13) looks to pass the ball against the Louisville Cardinals during the second half at L&N Federal Credit Union Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Duke QB Riley Leonard transfers to Notre Dame

Former Duke quarterback Riley Leonard announced Tuesday that he has transferred to Notre Dame.

“A dream come true,” Leonard wrote on Twitter.

Leonard threw for 2,967 yards with 20 touchdowns and rushed for 699 yards and 13 scores in 13 games with the Blue Devils in 2022. He was limited by injury to just seven games this season, finishing with 1,102 yards passing and three touchdowns and rushing for 352 yards and four scores before entering the transfer portal last month.

The addition of Leonard is a welcome one for the Fighting Irish, who learned quarterback Sam Hartman will not play in the team’s upcoming Sun Bowl. Instead, Hartman will focus on preparing for the 2024 NFL Draft.

No. 16 Notre Dame (9-3) faces No. 19 Oregon State (8-4) in the Sun Bowl on Dec. 29 in El Paso, Texas, and expects sophomore Steve Angeli to line up in Hartman’s spot. Angeli had 272 yards and four touchdowns this season with 19 completions in 25 pass attempts and one interception.

Hartman, 24, played one season at Notre Dame after a prolific career at Wake Forest.

He completed 191 of 301 pass attempts for 2,689 yards with 24 touchdowns with eight interceptions in 2023.

–Field Level Media

Nov 18, 2023; South Bend, Indiana, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish quarterback Sam Hartman (10) watches from the bench in the fourth quarter against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons at Notre Dame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Notre Dame QB Sam Hartman picks draft prep over bowl game

Notre Dame is going to the Sun Bowl without quarterback Sam Hartman.

Hartman won’t play for the Fighting Irish with his focus shifted to preparing for the 2024 NFL Draft.

No. 16 Notre Dame (9-3) faces No. 19 Oregon State (8-4) in the Sun Bowl on Dec. 29 in El Paso, Texas, and expects sophomore Steve Angeli to line up in Hartman’s spot. Angeli had 272 yards and four touchdowns this season with 19 completions in 25 pass attempts and one interception.

Hartman, 24, played one season at Notre Dame after a prolific career at Wake Forest.

He completed 191 of 301 pass attempts for 2,689 yards with 24 touchdowns with eight interceptions in 2023.

Oregon State has its own questions at QB. Senior starter DJ Uiagalelei and freshman backup Aidan Chiles already are in the transfer portal.

Ben Gulbranson was 7-1 as the starter for the Beavers in 2022, including being named MVP of the Las Vegas Bowl.

–Field Level Media