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Notre Dame scheduled to host three-star linebacker

| Thursday, September 24, 2015

Although the commitment front has been quiet since three-star quarterback Ian Book pledged to the Irish in early August, Notre Dame is staying busy on the recruiting trail.

This past weekend, Irish coaches rolled out the red carpet for Maryland outside linebacker Aaron Hansford, the lone official visitor and a four-star talent per Rivals.com.

“I think when there’s only one official visitor, it opens the door for the whole staff to get involved,” Irish recruiting analyst Andrew Ivins said. “If you’re going to do an in-season official visit, it’s a huge advantage to be the only guy on campus because … you’re going to be the [main focus].”

Ivins, who covers Notre Dame recruiting for Blue and Gold Illustrated, said Notre Dame has solidified itself as a school that’s going to be in the race down the stretch for the linebacker — especially because Hansford’s father is a huge Notre Dame fan. Hansford is also high on Oregon, Michigan State, UCLA and Florida, according to Ivins.

Now the Irish staff will quickly shift its attention to the only scheduled visitor for this weekend’s game against Massachusetts, three-star linebacker Jonathan Jones, who hails from Orlando, Florida. Although Jones is Rivals’ 17th-best inside linebacker, he is a player with a lot of upside, Ivins said.

“The knack on Jonathan is that he’s a little undersized,” Ivins said of the 6-foot, 207-pound Jones. “But he’s athletic and can play inside or outside. He might not have a lot of stars next to his name, but in terms of a program fit, he seems like another one of those guys that the staff is after.”

Both Jones and Hansford would fill a huge need for Notre Dame at the linebacker position. Another position starting to show itself as one of need is at running back. After taking two in from the class of 2015, the Irish already have 6-foot-1, 212 pound bruiser Tony Jones committed for next year. Jones, a three-star prospect per Rivals, was thought to be the only running back the Irish would take.

“It’s going to be hard for them to take two this cycle, but I think with the Folston injury, it’s more and more of a realistic possibility,” Ivins said.

Including Folston, the Irish currently only have three running backs on scholarship after the highly touted Greg Bryant departed before the season started. One name to watch to see if Notre Dame gets involved is three-star Miami commit Travis Homer, Ivins said.

For now, the Irish will make do with Jones and a recruiting class that totals 14 players. Although it is a crop that lacks a nationally recognized top talent, Ivins said he believes a number of current commits will move up in the Rivals rankings with strong showings thus far in their senior seasons.

“Chase Claypool, the Canadian wide receiver and safety, had a great start to his season,” Ivins said of the four-star talent and Rivals’ 196th best player. “He’s already scored six touchdowns through two games, but obviously there’s some questionable competition level there in Canada.”

Notre Dame’s other wide receiver commit, Kevin Stepherson, might be a name to watch as well, according to Ivins. In his most recent game for Jacksonville (Fla.) First Coast, the three-star Stepherson hauled in four passes for 79 yards and two touchdowns.

Finally, New York native Jamir Jones has also impressed. Brother of current Notre Dame defensive lineman Jarron Jones, Jamir is a three-star talent and the second-best player in New York, per Rivals.

“He’s listed as a linebacker, but I think he ultimately ends up at defensive end,” Ivins said. “He had a great start to his season, a few sacks here and there.

“Those are all guys that I think Notre Dame should be excited about and are guys that have really turned up this early in the season.”

For more on Notre Dame recruiting, check out BlueAndGold.com. Email Andrew Owens at [email protected] and tell him The Observer sent you.

Follow Brian Plamondon on Twitter: @Bri_Guy18

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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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