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Sports

Recruiting: QB Brandon Wimbush, WR Jalen Guyton excelling in senior seasons

| Friday, November 7, 2014

Amid the seemingly never-ending stream of commitments, visits and other activity during the past few weeks, attention hasn’t always been directed at Notre Dame’s current group of 21 pledges in the class of 2015.

But many Irish commits have compiled strong senior seasons as they get set to don the blue and gold next year in South Bend. Irish recruiting analyst Tom Loy said class of 2015 quarterback commitment Brandon Wimbush has been one of the most impressive players in the country this season, much less the Irish class.

Class of 2015 quarterback Brandon Wimbush committed to Notre Dame in October after flipping from Penn State. Irish recruiting analyst Tom Loy said Wimbush is “a five-star quarterback in [his] book.”

Class of 2015 quarterback Brandon Wimbush committed to Notre Dame in October after flipping from Penn State. Irish recruiting analyst Tom Loy said Wimbush is “a five-star quarterback in [his] book.”


“I wouldn’t say that he’s surprised me with his performance, but Brandon Wimbush has taken his game to another level,” said Loy, who covers Notre Dame recruiting for Blue and Gold Illustrated, part of the 247Sports network. “His overall play as a whole, he’s not only throwing the ball with arm strength and ball speed, but he’s throwing the ball so accurate.”

Wimbush, the No. 4 dual-threat quarterback and No. 63 overall player in the country, according to 247Sports’ Composite Rankings for the class of 2015, announced his flip from Penn State to Notre Dame on Oct. 7. Many believed the Irish would not land a quarterback in the class after former commitment and five-star prospect Blake Barnett flipped to Alabama in June. Barnett is the No. 1 dual-threat signal-caller in the country, per 247Sports’ Composite Rankings.

“You compare their numbers to their senior season, it looks like Wimbush may be the better prospect,” Loy said. “Regardless of what any recruiting [outlet] calls him, he’s a five-star quarterback in my book. He’s arguably the top player at his position in 2015. You could say Notre Dame got a huge steal late in the recruiting process and a potential difference-maker at the quarterback position.”

Loy said he has been somewhat surprised by the play of class of 2015 receiver commitment Jalen Guyton this season. The three-star pledge checks in as the No. 494 overall player in the nation, per 247Sports’ Composite Rankings. Loy said Guyton had an “average to good” junior season, highlighted by a strong postseason at Allen High School in Texas. This season, Guyton has teamed with his quarterback, Texas A&M commit and five-star prospect Kyler Murray, to form a strong duo through the air.

“He’s just been dominant. He looks faster. He’s playing with more confidence,” Loy said of Guyton. “He’s added size. … Now you look at him and you see a guy that can step in and compete for playing time as a freshman. He goes from looking like depth at the wide-receiver position to a game-changer, potentially a difference-maker on offense for the Irish. He’s been a pleasant surprise.”

Among other current Notre Dame commitments who could potentially contribute right away as freshmen, Loy mentioned center Tristen Hoge, cornerback Shaun Crawford, receiver C.J. Sanders and linebackers Josh Barajas, Tevon Coney and Asmar Bilal. Loy added that three-star cornerback Nick Coleman could surprise Irish fans.

Loy has said he could see Notre Dame taking a class of 25 commitments in this recruiting cycle. He said he doesn’t expect someone to come from completely off the radar as the end of the season nears and creeps toward National Signing Day, but long shots like cornerbacks Minkah Fitzpatrick and Iman Marshall, safety Marvell Tell and defensive tackle Christian Wilkins shouldn’t be completely ruled out.

“Those are guys that are very much perceived as long shots at this point, but they could surprise you,” Loy said. “I could see any one of those guys choosing Notre Dame come signing day.”

Nonetheless, Loy said there’s value for Notre Dame even in just being under consideration in some scenarios, especially with blue-chip recruits from states like Florida, Texas and California.

“You get a kid on campus, it’s still a win,” Loy said. “It shows nationally that Notre Dame is worth a visit. … You don’t always have to sign a kid to make it a win in recruiting.”

Class of 2016 five-star quarterback Malik Henry said Wednesday he will announce his college decision Thursday.Photo courtesy of Blue & Gold Illustrated, 247Sports

Class of 2016 five-star quarterback Malik Henry said Wednesday he will announce his college decision Thursday.

Class of 2016 quarterback Malik Henry announced Wednesday he will be committing Thursday afternoon. Loy, who once thought Henry would end up at Notre Dame, thinks that has changed.

“My guess would be that he’s going to Florida State at this point,” Loy said of Henry’s decision. “A lot can change in a week, but it seems like ever since Brandon Wimbush committed to Notre Dame last month, it seems like the priority has been to just focus on Wimbush going forward and then slow the recruitment of 2016.”

Loy said Notre Dame is also interested in class of 2016 quarterbacks Jawon Pass and Shea Patterson.

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