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From ages seven to 12, Mathias Barnwell played youth football for Joe Brennan and Brian Smith, who are both admittedly big Notre Dame football fans. Barnwell, who is a class of 2023 recruit from Fredericksburg (Va.) Riverbend, earned an offer from the Fighting Irish May 24.

Receiving a scholarship from Notre Dame meant a lot to him because of his former coaches, who Barnwell says are like family members to him.

“I’ve always known about Notre Dame growing up,” Barnwell explained. “My first football coaches were huge Notre Dame fans. They always talked about the school, and we’d watch the games together. Those two made the offer even more special because I had background watching Notre Dame.”

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The Rivals100 recruit was formerly committed to Penn State.
The Rivals100 recruit was formerly committed to Penn State. (Ryan Snyder/Blue White Illustrated)

Before Notre Dame offered Barnwell, he already locked in a visit to see campus June 17. Having the offer already is a nice bonus, and the four-star two-way recruit is excited to meet the Irish staff.

“We’ve been talking with Coach [Mike] Elston for two or three weeks now,” added Barnwell. “I can already tell that there’s a great environment there. I’ve talked to a few other coaches as well. They show love to my family too. I just can’t wait to get there.

“I’m looking forward to the hype. Everyone tells me great things about the school – academically and athletically. I can’t wait to see the school as a whole, see how beautiful campus is and meet the staff and commits. I want to see everything, and I can’t wait.”

Rivals lists Barnwell as a tight end recruit and the nation’s No. 52 overall player in the 2023 class. Notre Dame sees Barnwell fitting in on the defensive line.

He also has June visits set for Virginia Tech June 1, Ohio State June 18, Kentucky June 19 and Tennessee June 20. Additionally, he will see Michigan State and West Virginia, although he doesn’t have dates set for those schools just yet.

Barnwell gave an early pledge to Penn State back in June of 2020 but opened things back up in January.

“Recruiting has gone really well ever since I decommitted,” Barnwell said. “I’ve picked up about 10 new offers; I’ve talked to way more schools. In June, I’m going to several schools and will go to a lot of games in the fall. I’m just really excited to visit campuses again and see coaches face-to-face.”

The 6-5, 240-pounder was a member of the MaxPreps 2019 Football Freshmen All-American first-team offense at tight end.


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