Buckeyes matchup grabs attention of Irish commits

Recruits took notice when Notre Dame landed Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl.

When Notre Dame takes the field against Ohio State on New Year’s Day in the Fiesta Bowl there will be no shortage of anticipation.

Current Irish commitments and one-time targets already took notice of the matchup. Some of them considered scholarship offers from the Buckeyes before making their choice, giving them an even closer connection to the game than others.

Four-star offensive tackles Liam Eichenberg and Tommy Kraemer couldn’t have asked for a more interesting bowl matchup. Both held offers from Ohio State and are Ohio natives.

Eichenberg, who will cap his prep career at the Under Armour All-America Game next month fielded several texts and tweets from friends who are Buckeye fans. Needless to say they weren’t offering good luck.

“They’re just saying ND is gonna get their ass whooped,” Eichenberg said.

Kraemer will turn his attention to the trenches, where Notre Dame will dispatch one of the best offensive lines in the country against perhaps the top defensive prospect in next year’s draft: defensive lineman Joey Bosa.

“I can’t wait for the Ronnie Stanley-Bosa matchup,” Kraemer said. “We’re already figuring out where to go (to watch the game). We’re going to try to keep out the obnoxious OSU fans.”

Notre Dame will play the day after College Football Playoff semifinal games — No. 1 Clemson against No. 4 Oklahoma on one side of the bracket with No. 2 Alabama and No. 3 Michigan State on the other — but figures to be a major television draw anyway with tradition rich programs and rabid fan bases.

Four-star junior tight end Cole Kmet knows all about those things.

Kmet whittled his choices down to Notre Dame or Ohio State before choosing the Irish in October. He visited both programs and grew up watching Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer lead Florida to national championships.

“I think the game could get more views than one of the playoff games,” Kmet said. “It’s gonna be sweet.”

Long snapper John Shannon actually sees the Fiesta Bowl as a playoff game, even if it’s not.

“Going to be a great game,” Shannon said. “Personally, I think (Ohio State) should be a one or two seed in the playoffs and the same with Notre Dame.”

News of the matchup reached just about everyone by Sunday night. Irish Illustrated touched base with other recruits.

“So awesome! Going to be a great game with a crazy atmosphere.” - quarterback commitment Ian Book

“Great matchup. High power teams going at it.” - running back commitment Tony Jones Jr.

“Awesome. (They’re) great competition and it will be a great game.” - wide receiver commitment Kevin Stepherson

“I'm excited. It should be a great game. Both teams have a chip on their shoulder because neither made the Top 4 and it’s still a huge bowl.” - safety commitment Jalen Elliott

“Great game. Growing up I was an Ohio State fan so I definitely wanna watch this game.” - safety target Troy Pride Jr.

“It’s definitely going to be a great game. I think ND proves they aren’t overrated and that they can beat top 10 teams. I’m excited to see if Jarron is able to play in this game as well.” - defensive end commitment Jamir Jones


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