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Irish await commitments following promising USC visits

Mike Monaco | Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Two weeks removed from the USC game and the biggest recruiting weekend of the season for Notre Dame, the Irish still have yet to receive any commitments from the nearly 30 visitors who descended on campus for the game against the Trojans.

Nonetheless, Irish recruiting expert Mike Frank still hailed the landmark weekend as a major success for Notre Dame.

“I think it was a great opportunity to kind of sell their program to a lot of the elite guys left on their list right now and I think they did a wonderful job,” said Frank, who runs the ESPN-affiliated Irish Sports Daily.

Frank said despite the lack of immediate returns, it was important for Notre Dame to get the recruits on campus so they could “remain in the game” by getting them on campus early and having the opportunity to sell the school and the program.

Twelve offer-holding prospects from the class of 2014, who aren’t committed to the Irish, made the visit to South Bend.

“I don’t know exactly how many commitments they’re going to get out of this, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see five, six, maybe even seven of these kids pull the trigger for Notre Dame,” Frank said.

Frank said of those 12 recruits, he believes linebacker/safety Drue Tranquill and tight end Tyler Luatua are the closest to pledging to Notre Dame. Tranquill, who is committed to Purdue and hails from Fort Wayne, Ind., is expected to visit the Boilermakers this weekend. Luatua, meanwhile, is the No. 1 H-type tight end in the nation, according to ESPN.

Frank also said he thinks the Irish made a particularly strong impression on safety Payton Hendrix and cornerback Nick Watkins, who share the same secondary at Bishop Dunne High School in Dallas.

According to Frank, Notre Dame also made an impact with defensive tackle Matt Elam, who is also strongly considering Kentucky and Alabama, receiver Allen Lazard, who is committed to Iowa State, linebacker Nyles Morgan, who at one point had Notre Dame outside his top-six schools and a trio of California prospects – Luatua, offensive lineman Damien Mama and athlete John (Juju) Smith – who made the trek from the West Coast.

“So I think overall, I think everything went really well,” Frank said.

Notre Dame did, in fact, receive a commitment from receiver Isaiah McKenzie the day before (Oct. 18) the USC game, per Irish Sports Daily. McKenzie, who had been scheduled to make a visit to Notre Dame for the game against the Trojans but did not, became the 17th commitment in the class of 2014.

Despite McKenzie’s commitment, Frank said there is still work to be done before the Plantation, Fla., native is qualified for Notre Dame.
“Well, he’s got to have both the qualifying test score and the grades to get into Notre Dame. … I think he obviously wants to come to Notre Dame and I think Notre Dame would take him currently if he can qualify. But it just depends on how soon he can get qualified for Notre Dame.”

Academics aside, Frank said the Irish are undoubtedly high on McKenzie’s skill set.

“They think he’s a tremendous talent and he’s got excellent speed, Rocket Ismail-type speed, and the ability to make people miss, very big-time explosion,” Frank said. “He’s a home-run hitter. He’s a guy that can play in space and make a lot of things happen. You want to grab that guy if you can.”

In the wake of the massive recruiting efforts over USC weekend, Frank said there is not much activity this week.

“I think earlier in the year you wanted to get a lot of your 2015 kids in and they did bring in quite a few top 2015 kids,” Frank said. “It’s hard to get [2014 prospects] to come especially when they’re seniors, hard to get them on campus, especially when they have to travel from so far away. I don’t expect a lot of other visitors.”

For more on Notre Dame recruiting, check out Mike Frank’s irishsportsdaily.com. Email Mike at mikefrank18@sbcglobal.net and tell him The Observer sent you.

Contact Mike Monaco at jmonaco@nd.edu