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Recruiting: Irish prepare for biggest recruiting weekend

Mike Monaco | Friday, October 18, 2013



USC. Under the lights, part two.

With the stage set, the Irish are expected to welcome upwards of 25 prospects – including 10 commitments in the class of 2014 and 12 other class members holding Notre Dame offers – to campus for the rivalry weekend, which has been shaping up as the major game for Irish recruiting all season.

“These are really, I would say, the vast majority of the elite guys they have left on their list are all pretty much coming in this weekend,” said Notre Dame recruiting expert Mike Frank, who runs the ESPN-affiliated Irish Sports Daily. “There’s a couple others that may visit later but right now this is kind of the big group of the elite guys coming in. If they can finish out their class with this group of guys, then they’ve done a pretty good job.”

In order to begin to close out the class by securing commitments from some of those 2014 offer-holding visitors, Irish coach Brian Kelly said the best recruiting tool is a ‘W.’

“As I told our guys [regarding handling recruits], this is pretty simple, right?” Kelly said Tuesday. “The atmosphere, the game, the people around will take care of the environment. And then just win the damn game. Win the game. That’s what you need to do.”

Irish class of 2014 commitment Justin Brent, a receiver from Speedway, Ind., who was the second pledge of the current 14-member group, has attended the three other home games at Notre Dame Stadium this season. Nonetheless, Brent said he is looking forward to Saturday in particular.

“It’s very exciting,” he said. “I’ve been committed for two years now and last year we would rain out on Fridays and play the same time as ND on Saturdays, so I would have to miss some games. So I’m excited to witness my first full night game.

“With 80,000 packing it out like usual, it will be very exciting. I know a lot of people are looking forward to it, so I can expect it to be very loud. It will be a great time.”

Brent committed to Notre Dame on July 9, 2012. He and the eight other 2014 pledges visiting this weekend will have a chance to spend time with the uncommitted recruits.

“Well I’ve met most of them at some of the top camps, like the Rivals 100 or The Nike Opening in Oregon,” Brent said. “So I’ve seen a lot of them before and I’ll just tell them that if your goals are to be successful in not only just football, then this is the place for you.”

The following 2014 prospects are part of the many recruits expected to visit:
Defensive tackle Matt Elam

The 6-foot-6, 350-pound Kentucky native is ranked as the No. 2 player in the Bluegrass State, according to ESPN. Elam, who Frank called “one of the top nose guards in the country,” is also reportedly strongly considering Alabama and Kentucky.

“He’s a big body, somebody you don’t have to put much weight on that’s for sure,” Frank said. “You want to get some good weight on him and he should be a dominating nose guard in the future.”


Receiver Allen Lazard

The 6-foot-5 Iowa native committed to Iowa State on Dec. 3, 2012 and ranks as ESPN’s No. 20 receiver. Notre Dame’s two receiver commitments in the class of 2014 – Brent and Corey Holmes – are both expected to visit this weekend.

“He’s one of the top players in the country and he certainly would fit in with them at wide receiver,” Frank said.


Athlete Michiah Quick

The 170-pound California speedster checks in as the 4th-best athlete in the class of 2014, per ESPN. Quick visited Oklahoma at the beginning of the month and is also scheduled to be at Alabama for the LSU game. Frank described Quick as an inside-slot receiver who is quick with “excellent explosion.”


Tight end Tyler Luatua

ESPN rates the La Mirada, Calif., native as the best H-type tight end in the class of 2014 and the 68th-best player overall. Luatua visited Ole Miss last weekend and has November visits scheduled with Alabama and Wisconsin, per ESPN.

“He’s probably more of a stretch-the-field tight end like [2014 tight end commit Nic] Weishar, guys who can get deep, excellent athletic ability,” Frank said.


Offensive lineman Damien Mama

The massive Mama, who is listed at 6-foot-4, 370 pounds, is the No. 3 guard in the class and the No. 56 player overall. Mama visited Wisconsin last weekend and is scheduled to visit Alabama for the LSU game in early November.

“Damien Mama would kind of be the crown jewel to an already unbelievable offensive-line class,” Frank said. “He’s the kind of guy you just run the ball behind. He’s just an absolutely dominating blocker and plays with incredible attitude and nastiness even though he’s kind of a real happy-go-lucky type of guy.”


Linebacker Nyles Morgan 

ESPN’s No. 4 inside linebacker attends Crete-Monee High School, less than two hours away. The 6-foot-2, 225-pounder tweeted his top six schools Sept. 1, and Notre Dame did not make the cut. Two days later, Morgan said it was, in fact, too early to start narrowing down his recruitment.

“Obviously with [graduate student inside linebackers] Carlo [Calabrese] and Dan Fox graduating, somebody’s got to start,” Frank said. “It is wide open right now next year for inside linebacker, and Nyles Morgan has the kind of ability and size to step in right away and start. He’s really that kind of tremendous talent.”


Athlete Bo Scarbrough

Scarbrough, ESPN’s No. 2 athlete and No. 20 player overall, committed to Alabama on Sept. 7, 2012. Scarbrough, who lived previously in Tuscaloosa, Ala., and transferred this season to the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., could play running back at the next level.

“You want to talk about an amazing talent, that guy has crazy amounts of talent,” Frank said. “He’s, I would say, Notre Dame’s No. 1 choice even before [former Irish commit Elijah] Hood was committed, he would have been the guy they would have wanted more than anybody.”


Linebacker/safety Drue Tranquill

   The Fort Wayne, Ind., native and Purdue commitment visited Notre Dame for the Michigan State game. Tranquill pledged to the Boilermakers on July 23rd and received an offer from Notre Dame soon thereafter. Tranquill likely profiles as either a linebacker or safety.

“He knows there’s a number of Irish commitments coming in,” Frank said. “So I think he wants to see how he fits in with that group. I think if he does, chances are Notre Dame is going to have a good chance to get him in the end.”


Cornerback Nick Watkins 

A top-10 cornerback, according to ESPN, Watkins has already visited Notre Dame unofficially and also took in Notre Dame’s victory over Arizona State on Oct. 5. The Irish do not have any pledges in the 2014 secondary.

“He’s one of the few corners that Notre Dame has targeted this year and they really like him,” Frank said. “I know he could be the No. 1 guy on their board [overall].”


For more on Notre Dame recruiting, check out Mike Frank’s irishsportsdaily.com. Email Mike at [email protected] and tell him The Observer sent you.
Contact Mike Monaco at [email protected]