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Irish look to build East Coast efforts

| Thursday, September 17, 2015

While Notre Dame has not added a new commit for either the class of 2016 or 2017 in a while, that may soon change, as several high-profile recruits could be set to make decisions in the next couple weeks, Irish recruiting analyst Andrew Ivins said.

“It’s wait and see right now,” Ivins, who covers Irish recruiting for Blue and Gold Illustrated, said. “Some of the guys who visited for the Texas game will make their decision in the next couple weeks.”

Among the crop of visitors for the Texas opener was receiver Demetris Robertson, a five-star former Alabama commit who took an official visit to Notre Dame two weeks ago.

And while there won’t be a slew of visitors on campus this weekend for the Irish, it’s still a chance to impress their lone official visitor.

“They’re going to host one official visitor this week for the Georgia Tech game, linebacker Aaron Hansford,” Ivins said. “He’s a 6-foot-2, 210-pound undersized kid.”

The Washington, D.C. native sits amongst the top 15 outside linebackers and top 150 overall players in Rivals.com’s Rivals250, and Ivins said the four-star recruit and Notre Dame could be a good match, calling him a “good fit.”

While the linebacker position wasn’t initially one of need for the Irish in this class, recent developments have meant Notre Dame could be looking for an additional recruit this year at the position; Sophomore Kolin Hill transferred to Texas Tech, while freshman Nile Sykes left for Indiana before playing a snap for Notre Dame.

If junior Jaylon Smith leaves for the NFL Draft at season’s end, Ivins said the Irish would only have six linebackers on scholarship.

It all comes together to mean Hansford’s visit becomes more important than it otherwise would have been for the Irish staff.

“Originally, we thought they were only going to take one or two linebackers, now I think it’s definitely two or three for sure,” Ivins said. “Aaron is the first linebacker to take an official visit, and that’s what I think makes this weekend’s visit extremely important, in terms of having one guy on campus.

“This is a guy who seems like a fit for Notre Dame; I always use that, it sounds so cliché, but based on everything that he’s looking for in a school … this is a guy that they definitely need to make an impression on this weekend while he’s on campus.”

Last Thursday, Brian Kelly discussed Notre Dame’s deal with the ACC that sees the Irish play five games each year against teams from the conference, noting it has increased the school’s exposure on the East Coast.

“There’s clearly a group of student-athletes now that pay more attention to Notre Dame because of that footprint,” the Irish head coach said.

Kelly was quick to note Notre Dame had always been recruiting nationally and still is, but said the school now has “more notoriety” in the area.

“It’s opened up the recruiting opportunities for us,” Kelly said. “But I still think it’s national recruiting for us.”

It came at the start of a stretch in which the Irish played three games of four against ACC opposition, and Ivins said while it’s not paramount, the added attention paid to the program on the East Coast helps.

“It’s difficult to point to one thing and be like, ‘Yeah, we played a game there, so we’re recruiting well,’ but that said, Notre Dame went to Virginia for the first time ever, and they already have a kid committed from Virginia in [safety] Jalon Elliot,” Ivins said. “Obviously, when you’re in the mid-Atlantic, that exposure helps.”

With this weekend’s game against Georgia Tech and an upcoming series with Georgia, including a trip to Athens, Georgia, in 2019, it’s an opportunity to change Notre Dame’s struggles recruiting in the state.

“They continue to try to recruit Georgia, and that’s really been not an Achilles heel, but it’s been really hard to crack that area,” Ivins said. “They got Demetris Robertson, the number one player from Georgia, to take an official visit.”

And while the Irish can’t “host” recruits when they play at Virginia or Clemson, having that East Coast presence helps on the recruiting trail, Ivins said.

“It helps just being on the television, being in the newspaper, just building the brand,” he said.

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About Alex Carson

Alex Carson graduated from Notre Dame in 2017 after majoring in Applied and Computational Mathematics and Statistics and living in O’Neill Hall. Hailing from the Indianapolis area, but born in Youngstown, Ohio, Carson is a Cleveland sports fan convinced that he’s already lived the “best day of his life.” At The Observer, Carson was first a Sports Writer, then served as an Associate Sports Editor (2015/16) and an Assistant Managing Editor (2016/17), before finishing his tenure as a Senior Sports Writer. A man of strong convictions, he ardently believes that Carly Rae Jepsen's 2015 release E•MO•TION is the greatest album of his generation, and wakes up early on Saturday mornings to listen, or occasionally watch, his favorite least-favorite sports team, Aston Villa. When he isn’t writing, Carson spends his time counting down the days to the next running of the Indianapolis 500 and reminding people that the Victory March starts with the lyric, “Rally sons of Notre Dame,” not “Cheer, cheer for Old Notre Dame.”

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