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Class of 2016 looks to add star

| Friday, September 4, 2015

Although the most important battle this Saturday will happen on the gridiron when Notre Dame welcomes Texas, the Irish will be taking on the rest of the nation, too, in a different kind of battle — one for the top prospects in the recruiting world that will descend onto campus.

This weekend’s visitors will include a mix of class of 2016 commitments, class of 2016 targets and class of 2017 targets, according to Irish recruiting analyst Andrew Ivins.

As always, the current commits will become key cogs in the recruiting of undecided players. Ivins, who covers Notre Dame recruiting for Rivals.com affiliate Blue and Gold Illustrated, said that on hand this weekend to help recruit is four-star offensive tackle commit Parker Boudreaux, among others. Boudreaux, an Orlando, Florida, native who is the 24th best offensive tackle in the nation per Rivals, made headlines when he announced his allegiance to Notre Dame by pulling a school bus to reveal the Irish. Boudreaux helps make up the strength of the class so far, the offensive line.

“One could argue that the three that they currently have committed in [No. 34 overall, No. 3 offensive tackle] Tommy Kraemer, Parker Boudreaux and [No. 40 offensive tackle] Liam Eichenberg is the top haul in the nation with those three linemen,” Ivins said. “It’s not sexy, but those are three extremely talented linemen — guys that are really versatile on the line, which is what [offensive line coach Harry] Hiestand likes.”

Those three are part of a group of commits that currently sits at 14. While early indications had the number stopping at 18, it now seems possible for it to stretch to 22 or 23 as a result of attrition, Ivins said. Of those nine or so spots remaining, the Irish are still waiting on a star.

“I don’t think there’s really one big fish yet,” Ivins said. “There’s still a chance for one of those to emerge here down the road: a guy you can kind of hang your head around as the big gem of the class.”

Even without an eye-popping name, Notre Dame still has some considerable talent in its class — none more intriguing than Rivals’ 196th-ranked player, receiver Chase Claypool. Claypool, hailing from Abbotsford, British Columbia, is a big-bodied receiver at 6-foot-5.

“He hasn’t played much organized football, but he just shot up in the Rivals rankings after a great camp circuit,” Ivins said of Claypool. “He’s a guy who plays wide receiver but could end up at linebacker — you have to think there’s a ton of upside with him.”

Claypool could potentially have others join him in the class of 2016 as soon as Saturday. Four-star cornerback Donte’ Vaughn of Memphis, Tennessee, and four-star safety D.J. Morgan of Bellflower, California, are the best bets to commit, Ivins said.

Another visitor, Rivals’ second ranked all-purpose back and one-time USC commit Melquise Stovall, is thought to be an Irish lean, Ivins said.

“I don’t think Notre Dame is going to put the press on him or anything, but they’re just really excited about him getting on campus,” Ivins said. “He’s a guy that I think somewhere down the line will find his way into the class.”

None of the recruits that will be on campus, however, are more important to Notre Dame than Savannah, Georgia, native Demetris Robertson, a five-star athlete and the No. 7 overall player in the nation, per Rivals. A one-time Alabama commit, Robertson is expected on campus this weekend, although there is still a chance he could pull out at the last second, Ivins said.

“He’s a guy that you get on campus and say, ‘Hey, you can play wherever you want, and we’ll figure it out from there,’” Ivins said of Robertson.

Whether it’s from Robertson or elsewhere, Notre Dame needs the help right now to boost a class that currently sits at No. 27 in Rivals’ Team Rankings, behind the likes of Kentucky, Duke and Texas Tech. The somewhat lackluster showing so far can be attributed to coaching turnover and should not be a cause for concern, Ivins said.

“I think the fact that Notre Dame lost four coaches, they took a lot of steps back on the recruiting trail,” Ivins said. “When you lose four coaches, you lose a lot of relationships. Back in February and early March, they really had to start from square one … [but] in the past three weeks things have really trended up.

“Right now, it might not be the most star-studded class, but at the end of the day … this staff has proven they can flip kids down the stretch. And I think that will be the case once again with some of these top targets.”

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 Brian Plamondon

Brian is a senior History major. He is a Maryland native that has been to 16 different countries including Italy, where he studied abroad. He loves all things hockey, especially the Washington Capitals. He's just doing this so he won't get fined.

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