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Football

Recruiting: Recapping big Michigan weekend, looking ahead

| Thursday, September 11, 2014

As Notre Dame Stadium rocked and the Irish blitzed Michigan, 31-0, on Saturday, a host of recruits took in the action and left campus with favorable impressions of the program. But Notre Dame has yet to add a commitment following the marquee recruiting weekend.

“Of course you want to land a commit or two, which didn’t happen, but as a whole I thought it was extremely successful in both the 2015 and 2016 classes,” Irish recruiting analyst Tom Loy said.

Heading into last weekend, Loy, who covers Notre Dame recruiting for Blue and Gold Illustrated, part of the 247Sports network, highlighted running back Soso Jamabo, linebacker/defensive end Porter Gustin and linebacker Tevon Coney as three of the marquee class of 2015 visitors to watch.

Soso JamaboPhoto courtesy of Blue & Gold Illustrated, 247Sports

Soso Jamabo

Jamabo, the No. 3 running back and No. 47 overall player in the nation, according to 247Sports’ Composite Rankings, is “extremely interested” in Notre Dame, per Loy. Loy added Notre Dame, UCLA, Texas A&M and Baylor all could be in the mix for the Plano, Texas, native.

Gustin, the No. 64 player in the country according to 247Sports, had a solid visit, Loy said, but Loy thinks USC will be too difficult to beat for the Utah product’s services.

“I just don’t see Notre Dame being able to do enough to overtake his interest in USC,” Loy said.

The No. 10 inside linebacker in 247Sports’ Composite Rankings, Coney also is considering Florida. Despite the perception Coney could be a lock or a heavy lean to the Gators, Loy said he could see Coney pledging to Notre Dame.

Loy said Notre Dame “knocked it out of the park” with class of 2016 quarterback Malik Henry, the No. 3 overall player, per 247Sports.

“He’s just got so much upside,” Loy said. “There’s so much polish. It’s like he was born to play the quarterback position. He’s a student of the game. [Irish quarterbacks coach] Matt LaFleur and [head coach] Brian Kelly really did a great job with handling his recruitment this weekend.”

After welcoming at least 26 recruits to campus for the Michigan game, Notre Dame will head down to Indianapolis to square off with Purdue in the sixth installment of the Shamrock Series. While the Irish turned last year’s Shamrock Series matchup with Arizona State at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, into a major recruiting weekend — welcoming roughly 36 visitors to the home of the Dallas Cowboys — this year’s version won’t be nearly as big, Loy said.

“That was huge when you get that big, high-profile game there. You get these kids to basically go see Notre Dame when it’s right down the street for them in Texas — that’s huge,” Loy said, referring to the three commitments from Texas the Irish landed in its class of 2014. “It’s a little different now that it’s in Indianapolis.

“If there was a game in like Florida or Georgia or California, that would be ideal because you can get these kids to see Notre Dame without them having to travel to South Bend, Indiana to see the game.”

Loy said Notre Dame will focus its efforts this weekend on class of 2015 linebacker Asmar Bilal, the No. 7 inside linebacker and No. 180 overall prospect, per 247Sports. Loy said Bilal, an Indianapolis native, is considering Notre Dame and Michigan.

“He told me last week that he’s going to take the trip to see them,” Loy said. “I think the Shamrock Series is going to be key in [potentially] landing him.”

So while the visitor list isn’t nearly as long as it was for the tilt against the Wolverines, Loy said it’s still important for Notre Dame to take care of the top in-state prospects, such as Bilal. Kelly echoed this sentiment Tuesday.

“We have done so well recruiting in this state,” he said. “There are great players here that we want to call. I guess it’s the old adage, you’ve got to pull your own state.”

Since the Shamrock Series debuted in 2009, the Irish have played the special off-site home games in San Antonio, New York City, Washington, D.C., Chicago and North Texas.

“I think my initial impression was why would you give up a home game, but I really didn’t understand the implications of the Shamrock Series and really what it meant,” Kelly said. “I think it’s been really good for us because it gets us into some geographical areas that make sense.”

For more on Notre Dame recruiting, check out BlueAndGold.com. Email Andrew Owens at aowens@blueandgold.com and tell him The Observer sent you.

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About Mike Monaco

Senior Sports Writer Mike Monaco is a senior majoring in Film, Television and Theatre with a minor in Journalism, Ethics, and Democracy as well as Business Economics. The O’Neill Hall native hails from the Boston area and is an aspiring play-by-play broadcaster.

Contact Mike