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Irish impress recruits over Texas weekend

| Friday, September 11, 2015

Notre Dame did not add any commitments to the classes of 2016 or 2017 this past week, but all the same, the Irish recruiting team enjoyed a successful weekend.

While the No. 9 Irish dominated Texas in Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday, several high-profile recruits watched and left impressed, according to Andrew Ivins, an Irish recruiting analyst.

Notre Dame had the added recruiting advantage of playing at home for the opening weekend of the season, said Ivins, who covers Notre Dame recruiting for Rivals.com affiliate Blue and Gold Illustrated. While other top programs such as Alabama, Auburn, Michigan and Baylor either played at neutral sites or took to the road, the Irish hosted arguably the best group of recruits in the nation.

“This was one of the premier games on a college campus, and I think Notre Dame had one of the top groups of visitors out there,” Ivins said. “Notre Dame capitalized on playing a premier opponent at home in week one and set the foundation for them to shore up the class year moving forward into the rest of the season.”

Thus far, Notre Dame has 14 commitments for the class of 2016 but is still looking to add top-level talent, including the class’s first five-star recruit, per Rivals ratings.

To that end, the Irish hosted two five-star prospects this past weekend: receiver Demetris Robertson on an official visit and linebacker Daelin Hayes on an unofficial trip.

Robertson is ranked as the seventh-best recruit in the nation by Rivals and was committed to Alabama last spring. Since then, however, he has reopened the process and had a good experience at Notre Dame this past weekend, Ivins said.

Former, current and future Irish players courted Robertson. Receivers Golden Tate, now with the Detroit Lions, and Will Fuller met with the Savannah, Georgia, native, and fellow recruit and offensive lineman Parker Boudreaux, who has already committed to Notre Dame, spent a good portion of the weekend with him.

Boudreaux, along with other commits, came for the Texas weekend with the expectation that he would help to recruit his peers, Ivins said, and Robertson posted a picture of himself with Boudreaux and other offensive linemen to Twitter.

Hayes is top three at his position, per Rivals, and is currently committed to USC. However, he and his mother came for the Texas game and received plenty of attention from the Irish staff and players.

“He’s starting to waver a little bit more [on his commitment to USC],” Ivins said. “This was his first time he’s been on campus in a while, so that was big for the staff to lure him here. That’s a credit to Brian Kelly, who’s been heavily involved in his recruitment. He and his mom met with Kelly before the game for about 20 minutes. … His mom asked a lot of questions. His mom, she’s going to be key to his recruitment.

“She asked Coach Kelly a lot about, ‘How are you going to develop my son into a man?’ and non-football related stuff like that. From all accounts that I heard, it went very, very well and productively, and I think it’s setting the stage for Notre Dame to potentially flip Daelin down the line.”

Kelly and the Irish have had a recent run of success getting players to switch their commitments, flipping eight players in last year’s class, including quarterback Brandon Wimbush.

Two other top targets, Donte Vaughn and D.J. Morgan, entered the weekend as safe bets to commit to Notre Dame. Both reported positive experiences, Ivins said, but Vaughn has already said he will not officially announce his commitment until Oct. 12, his birthday.

On the other hand, some analysts thought Morgan, a safety, might make his decision official as soon as this weekend, but no such announcement came, though Ivins said the silence does not mean there is any change in the likelihood that Morgan will commit to Notre Dame.

While the Irish are in Charlottesville to face Virginia this weekend, recruiting will naturally slow, Ivins said. The mid-Atlantic area of Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C., has been a particular area of focus for Brian Kelly’s staff in recent years, Ivins said, with senior running back C.J. Prosise, junior cornerback Devin Butler and sophomore offensive lineman Sam Mustipher all coming from the area.

In the current cycle, the Irish have a three-star commit from Virginia in Jalen Elliott, who is projected to be a defensive back on the collegiate level. Ivins said it is possible Kelly or someone from his staff will check in with Elliott while the Irish are in the area. Otherwise, Ivins said, the recruiting impact of the game will likely be negligible.

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About Greg Hadley

Greg Hadley is a senior from Rockville, Maryland, majoring in political science with a minor in Journalism, Ethics and Democracy. He served as The Observer's Editor-in-Chief for the 2015-2016 term and currently covers Notre Dame baseball and women's basketball.

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