Class of 2017: Offense and Special Teams
Observer Sports Staff | Thursday, February 2, 2017
As Notre Dame’s commitments sign their letters of intent Wednesday, the Observer Sports staff will update this page, as well as the one tracking defensive signees.
The Irish have now signed all 18 players committed to the school at the start of the day and have added three commits on National Signing Day. There are no more signees expected.
Last updated: 2:11 p.m.
6’1” • 185
Bishop Miege High School
Shawnee Mission, Kan.
Originally committed to Missouri, Jafar Armstrong switched his commitment to Notre Dame on Jan. 29. Armstrong, standing at 6 feet, 1 inch tall and weighing 185 pounds, was a wide receiver and kick returner at Bishop Miege High School near his hometown of Shawnee Mission, Kansas. At Bishop Miege, Armstrong helped carry the team to three consecutive state championships while earning recognition as an all-state receiver in each season. He holds the Kansas high-school state record for most touchdown receptions at 45, snagging 21 in his senior year. This touchdown machine, along with fellow wide receiver commit Michael Young, should strengthen the Irish receiving corps. However, Armstrong’s athleticism means he may see time on the special teams unit.
6’7” • 344
El Cerrito High School
El Cerrito, Calif.
Notre Dame finds size and talent in four-star recruit Aaron Banks. Banks received offers from over 30 schools — including Michigan, Oregon, Tennessee and Washington — before ultimately signing with the Irish in December.
While the offensive line will be returning many of its starters, the unit has lacked the depth it has boasted in years past, something Banks will add. Banks is the 13th-ranked offensive tackle in the country and comes in at the 16th-best recruit in his home state of California, according to Rivals.com.
At 6 feet, 7 inches and 344 pounds, Banks will become the tallest member of the Irish offensive line, with the exception of graduate student Mike McGlinchey. Banks’ combination of size and athleticism leave his future open, as he has the ability to play as either a tackle or a guard.
Banks enrolled early at Notre Dame, starting classes in January 2017. He is one of five commits to do so.
5’11” • 188
Cedar Hill High School
Cedar Hill, Texas
Davis is a Rivals.com three-star recruit ranked as the 19th-best signal-caller in the class of 2017. The dual-threat quarterback from Cedar Hill, Texas, follows in the footsteps of fellow dual-threat gunslingers and recent signees DeShone Kizer and Brandon Wimbush.
While Davis only stands at 5 feet, 11 inches tall, his talent is undeniable. The quarterback possesses elite speed for the position — he ran a 4.63-second 40-yard dash — and has a strong, accurate arm. As a starter for Dallas powerhouse Cedar Hill, Davis played against some of the best high school talent in the country, accounting for 2,148 passing yards, 25 touchdowns and only four interceptions in his junior season, including 873 rushing yards and 13 rushing touchdowns. Davis was also a finalist in ESPN’s Elite 11 competition, which showcases the best high school quarterbacks in the country.
6’3” • 188
South Mecklenburg High School
Notre Dame added a kicker to its 2017 class on Signing Day with 6-foot, 3-inch prospect Jonathan Doerer. Doerer attended South Mecklenburg High School in Charlotte, North Carolina, and is a two-star recruit according to Rivals.com. As a senior, Doerer went 9-of-16 on his field goal attempts, with a long of 44 yards. 92 percent of Doerer’s kickoffs resulted in touchbacks.
Until the cusp of National Signing Day, Doerer was committed to Maryland, but he flipped to Notre Dame on Sunday. Doerer is expected to fight for kickoff duties as a freshman, but should remain stuck behind Justin Yoon on the depth chart at place kicker. With Doerer’s commitment, Notre Dame will have two scholarship kickers on its roster for the first time since 2013.
6’4” • 295
Clearwater Central Catholic High School
Dillan Gibbons, a 6-foot, 4-inch tackle out of Clearwater Central Catholic in Clearwater, Florida, was one of the first commits in the class of 2017 for Notre Dame. Gibbons made his decision to play in South Bend in early April 2015. Gibbons has shown flashes of finesse in his game, but at 295 pounds, it is his brute force that sets him apart from other guards in his class. With the offensive line always talented for the Irish, Gibbs may look to train in positions across the line, demonstrating throughout his high school career that he has the athleticism to help Notre Dame anywhere it needs him. Gibbons will join the 12 scholarship offensive linemen already on the team.
The Irish have already added Under Armour All-American Robert Hainsey to their ranks on the offensive line. The 6 foot, 5 inch, 276-pound commit has strong pass-blocking and run-blocking abilities, giving him future opportunities at both offensive tackle and guard. Hainsey will add depth to the Irish roster, no matter which position he ultimately plays. Hainsey comes into Notre Dame as the 11th-ranked offensive tackle in the country and 21st best commit overall coming out of Florida, according to Rivals.com. Hainsey attended IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, for his high school career, but is originally from Pittsburgh.
Hainsey received offers from over 25 schools, including Auburn and Big Ten powerhouses Penn State, Michigan and Michigan State. However, Hainsey committed to the Irish in early July, before he officially visited any of the schools that offered him spots on their roster.
Hainsey is one of five Notre Dame commits to enroll at the University early. He began classes in January.
6’ • 190
At the running back position, Notre Dame’s backfield will be boosted by the commitment of four-star running back C.J. Holmes. Ranked as the fifth-best all purpose back in the nation by Rivals.com, Holmes stands at 6 feet, 200 pounds. A graduate of Cheshire Academy, Holmes has already enrolled at Notre Dame for this semester in preparation of next season along with four others from the class of 2017. Holmes signed with Notre Dame back in July, passing up on offers from schools including Michigan and Alabama. Joining a team that looks to have a rebound season, Holmes may have a chance to make an immediate contribution at both running back and wide receiver, Irish head coach Brian Kelly said at his presser Wednesday. Holmes rushed for 1,169 yards and 13 touchdowns last season.
6’6” • 240
St. Viator High School
Arlington Heights, Ill.
The Irish managed to land one of the best tight ends in the country in Cole Kmet, an Army All-American and four-star recruit, ranked 95th overall in the class by Rivals.com. Kmet has tremendous size at 6 feet, 6 inches and 240 pounds.
Kmet chose the Irish over a host of other schools, including Michigan, Ohio State, Michigan State and Iowa, committing in October 2015. Kmet impressed with his receiving and blocking as a participant in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl this January. While Notre Dame also managed to land the top-ranked tight end prospect in Brock Wright, Kmet is still a very talented recruit and certainly presents an option for the Irish offense. Without Alize Jones last year, the Irish tight ends struggled to have a major impact offensively, and Kmet should be able to help reverse this recent trend.
6’7” • 280
North Allegheny High School
Joshua Lugg is a 6-foot, 7-inch offensive tackle hailing from Wexford, Pennsylvania. Lugg, despite his impressive physical traits, was not highly touted at the time he committed to Notre Dame in the middle of August 2015 — however, his reputation changed after a strong showing in the Army All-American game. Now a four-star recruit according to Rivals.com, Lugg jumped to 22nd for his position and sixth overall in Pennsylvania. Look for Lugg to learn from the impressive offensive line already in place at Notre Dame before becoming an impact player down the road.
6’5” • 238
Cy-Fair High School
One of Notre Dame’s top recruits in the 2017 class is tight end Brock Wright from Cypress, Texas. As the No. 44 overall recruit according to Rivals.com and the top tight end recruit, Wright was a highly sought after player who signed with the Irish on June 26, 2015. With his 6-foot, 5-inch physique and ability to pull and block downfield, Wright could be a significant addition to the Irish offense.
Wright will be the quarterback’s friend as a big target who is able to quickly create space from his opponent and run down the field. With his talent, he will open up Notre Dame’s depth chart again. As one of the five early enrollees, Wright has already arrived at Notre Dame and will be participating in spring practice.
5’11” • 175
Destrehan High School
Michael Young, a quick and speedy wide receiver, is sure to get well-acquainted with Notre Dame’s offense. The Destrehan, Louisiana, native ran in an offense which is quite similar to Irish head coach Brian Kelly’s offensive system. Young had notable offers from Arizona, Auburn, Oregon and West Virginia among others.
Listed at 5 feet, 11 inches and 175 pounds, Young has the potential of becoming a great receiver in Notre Dame’s spread offense. Young has the ability to out-step defensive backs and run crisp routes. Young is also known for outmuscling defenders and creating good blocks down the field as well. He was rated a three-star recruit by Rivals.com and has a great opportunity to grow his game once he starts with the Irish.