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Donovan Jeter commits, Notre Dame stays attractive after losses

| Friday, September 23, 2016

If there was a silver lining for Notre Dame this past weekend, it certainly wasn’t on the field. The Irish were effectively eliminated from playoff contention by No. 8 Michigan State.

Despite the loss, however, Notre Dame had a strong weekend on the recruiting front, adding a verbal commitment from Rivals.com four-star prospect Donovan Jeter on Monday.

Jeter is listed at 6-foot-5, 255 pounds and figures to play either defensive tackle or defensive end for the Irish next season. Blue and Gold Illustrated recruiting analyst Bryan Driskell said Jeter could be an impact player for the Irish front seven.

“He’s a really good fit for Notre Dame’s defense,” Driskell said. “He’s a power player at 6-foot-5 … he benches as much as 285 [pounds]. He fits what Notre Dame’s looking for in a strong-side end. He can play strong-side end, he can play three technique. He’s a guy that can defend the run, can handle himself setting the edge and he’s also got some ability to rush the quarterback. I think that’s really something they’re missing right now in their power players. Jeter has a chance to be an impact player, and as we know, Notre Dame needs more impact players along the defensive line.”

Jeter’s commitment following a loss should comfort Irish fans, as it shows the program is still desirable despite not being in the playoff hunt. Driskell said this is due to the fact that recruits are less affected by individual games than most fans.

“I think fans tend to make more out of how a team loses than players,” Driskell said. “If Notre Dame goes 9-3 still season, which is plausible … it’s not going to affect [its] recruiting. The reality is, recruits tend to be more big picture and down the road than fans are. Fans live in the moment, rightfully so. Kids are like, ‘Well I’m not on that team. When I get there, we’re going to beat Michigan State.’

“Kids who end up coming to Notre Dame, tend to have more a big picture view of what they’re looking for. … Unless they’re going 8-5 and getting their butt kicked by people, kids are still going to be interested.”

The commitment of Jeter also continues a recent trend for the Irish of attracting recruits from western Pennsylvania. Including Jeter, Notre Dame has six verbal commitments from western Pennsylvania in its 2017 and 2018 recruiting classes, and Driskell said this is a concerted effort from recruiting coordinator Mike Elston.

“A couple things show me Notre Dame has made western Pennsylvania a priority,” Driskell said. “It actually started before this year, but this is the first year it’s paying off. Pennsylvania as a whole — and western Pennsylvania in particular — used to be a tremendous pipeline back in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. … Notre Dame is trying to get back in there. Recruiting coordinator Mike Elston took over western PA as his region. You don’t send your recruiting coordinator into a new region unless you’re trying to say, ‘This is going to become a place where we really have to put a lot of emphasis,’ and Mike Elston has really done a great job there.”

Notre Dame hosted nearly 20 recruits on official visits in one of the biggest recruiting weekends of the year. This Saturday against the Blue Devils, the action will be less frantic, but Driskell said one player to keep an eye on is 2018 tight end Zach Kuntz, a 4-star prospect and Rivals.com’s No. 1 tight end.

“He’s arguably one of the top two or three tight ends on the board,” Driskell said. “He’s a guy that [Notre Dame] would take right now in a heartbeat. He’s going to be on campus, [and] this is his second trip to campus — he was also here for the Blue-Gold Game. He’s a kid that’s a big time player for them.

“As of now, that’s the only big name they’ve got coming up for Duke. And with it being a smaller visit, they’re going to be able to spend a lot more time on really showing him some love and showing him that, ‘Hey, you’re a guy we really to lead this class.’ It wouldn’t surprise me if during or after the visit you hear people like [Notre Dame commits] Phil Jurkovec and Bo Bauer talk about keeping that Pennsylvania pipeline going.”

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About Marek Mazurek

Marek is a senior history major and is a former resident of Carroll Hall. He has lived in Mishawaka or South Bend for all 21 years of his life and covers Notre Dame football and men's basketball. He has loads of hand-eye coordination but lacks the height to be any good. Marek is also a proud esports supporter.

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