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Recruiting: Irish host slew of nation’s top prospects

| Thursday, September 4, 2014

As if Notre Dame wasn’t going to be crowded enough this weekend for the primetime matchup between two rivals playing their final scheduled meeting, the Irish are set to host at least 24 recruits over the weekend.

Notre Dame will welcome  mostly a combination of class of 2015 commitments, class of 2015 targets and class of 2016 targets. The expected group could swell to even more members, replete with “big names,” according to Irish recruiting analyst Tom Loy.

Loy, who covers Notre Dame recruiting for Blue and Gold Illustrated, part of the 247Sports network, said none of the names really get much bigger than Plano, Texas, native Soso Jamabo, a four-star running back and the No. 45 overall player in the nation, per 247Sports’ Composite Rankings.

Soso JamaboPhoto courtesy of Blue and Gold Illustrated, 247Sports
Soso Jamabo

“He’s been the top guy for a very long time for running backs coach Tony Alford,” Loy said. “For a while he didn’t seem like a realistic shot as the relationship was developing between Jamabo, Alford and [Irish defensive backs coach and Texas specialist] Kerry Cooks. [Then] things started really heating up.”

Loy said there’s a chance Jamabo could make a decision this weekend, but he expects the running back’s recruitment to stretch to October.

As for someone who could pledge to Notre Dame this weekend, Loy said he would not be surprised if linebacker Tevon Coney left this week as commitment No. 18 in Notre Dame’s class of 2015.

Meanwhile, linebacker/defensive end Porter Gustin became one of the most recent additions to the mass of visitors. Loy described the No. 67 overall prospect in the class of 2015 — per 247Sports — as a “freak athlete.”

“Right now he’s definitely favoring USC,” Loy said. “USC is the school he grew up cheering for, grew up watching. He’s been to campus, been to the games. This is Notre Dame’s one shot to blow him away”

With all the hype surrounding the rivalry weekend, Loy agreed there is an opportunity to blow away recruits — to an extent.

“I don’t think it sways kids as much as they like to believe, as fans like to believe,” Loy said. “But you get a victory, a wild locker room, you get a crazy campus, all the fans going crazy, it can definitely do a lot to help their chances. But in the end these kids are smart.”

CommitsWebKeri O'Mara

Loy said many of the prospects will still look beyond one rivalry win or loss, or one night on a fervent campus.

“They do look at it, but it’s not as important as basically looking at the pros and cons of actually being a student-athlete at Notre Dame,” Loy said. “And that’s where Notre Dame really sells itself.”

But at the same time, Loy argued, the recruits do enjoy being blown away. It’s a challenge for the staff to balance all the various recruits in one weekend, Loy said, and avoid having certain prospects leave feeling discounted. For instance, the top two quarterbacks — Malik Henry and Shea Patterson — on Notre Dame’s class of 2016 board, according to Loy, will both be visiting South Bend this weekend. Loy said it’s important to actively recruit both, even though it could eventually be a “first-come, first-served” scenario.

“If you let a top guy leave without showing him enough love, that’s a problem,” Loy said. “But in the end, this is Notre Dame, and they’re recruiting a certain type of kid. … If you’re looking for a kid that’s looking for the right thing, there’s no way they’re going to leave this weekend without being pretty impressed by Notre Dame.”

For more on Notre Dame recruiting, check out BlueAndGold.com. Email Andrew Owens at [email protected] 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.

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