Irish, Bulldogs bring battle to recruiting trail
Marek Mazurek | Friday, September 8, 2017
A win over Georgia would be a huge statement that Notre Dame is ready to compete on the national level again. And according to Blue and Gold Illustrated recruiting analyst Bryan Driskell, a win would also turn some heads amongst recruits.
“It’s a huge step in the right direction,” Driskell said. “A game like this does two things for you. Number one: There are some kids Notre Dame is looking at, but maybe [Notre Dame] is fourth or fifth or sixth on the kid’s list of favorite schools, and he likes Notre Dame, but there’s still some doubts about the 4-8 and ‘are they really a national program?’ But then you go beat Georgia, ‘OK, I’m giving those guys a second look,’ or ‘OK, I’m moving those guys up my list.’
“I do think this plays a major, major role in giving [Notre Dame] an opportunity to finish come signing day.”
To that effect, this weekend will be a busy one for the Irish recruiting staff as they host multiple high-value prospects.
“They’re going to have 5-star offensive lineman Jamaree Salyer,” Driskell said. “He’s a kid, obviously from Atlanta. He’s looking at Georgia, this is going to be a big chance for Notre Dame to make a good impression on him. Wide receiver Chase Cota from Oregon … this is going to be his second trip to Notre Dame; he also came for the spring game. When you talk about a kid from Oregon who’s making his second visit to Notre Dame, that says something.”
In addition to Salyer and Cota, Notre Dame hopes to see Georden Porter, a wide receiver from California, along with a number of players from the 2019 recruiting class. Joseph Anderson, a Rivals.com four-star defensive lineman from Tennessee and Cesare Mellusi, a four-star prospect from Florida are expected to be on campus, Driskell said.
“It’s kind of like when they had the night game in 2015 against USC and brought a lot of west coast kids in,” Driskell said. “Look, Notre Dame goes toe-to-toe with Georgia, with Clemson for the top recruits on their board. One of the advantages of being in the ACC, is you’re not only playing in front of a lot of the kids that are looking at you, but also you get to play some of the teams you’re recruiting against.
“When you’re recruiting Jamaree Salyer, who lives in Atlanta, right down the street from Athens … when you’re recruiting those kids specifically against Georgia, this kind of game, assuming you play well, is one of those things you can point to and say, ‘See? We are one of those top programs.’”
Salyer will be the highest-rated recruit on campus, but perhaps the most important for Notre Dame will be Kalon Gervin, a four-star cornerback from Detroit. Gervin was previously committed to Notre Dame, but decommitted in early May. Notre Dame does not currently have any commits at the cornerback position, so convincing Gervin to come back may be a huge pickup for the Irish, considering the lack of depth at the position.
“I definitely wouldn’t freak out, but there’s definitely cause for concern,” Driskell said. “There’s some good players on the board. But when you don’t sign any cornerbacks in the previous class … there’s obviously cause for concern. Notre Dame can’t afford to come up short this year. And coming up short doesn’t mean one or none. If you get only one, that means in two years, you’ve only signed one cornerback. That’s a problem. But Notre Dame is still five months away from signing day, there’s still plenty of time to finish that class off with some talent at that position.”
Another factor that may take some time to figure out is the effect of the new-look Notre Dame Stadium on visiting recruits.
“As far as the video board and the gameday atmosphere, it’s a difficult question for [recruits] to answer because they’ve never been to a game before,” Driskell said. “They don’t know what is was like before. They only know what it’s like compared to every other school now. You can say, “What’d you think of the video board?’ and they say, “OK, it’s a video board. I see them at every school I visited.’”
The new additions and upgrades do put Notre Dame on a more even playing field, Driskell said.
“I think what it is for Notre Dame now is that’s no longer an issue they have to overcome,” Driskell said. “They’re not going to sign a kid because they have a video board and they upgraded the stadium. What it does though, is it removes one of the few things teams use against [Notre Dame]. … Now with the changes made under [director of athletics] Jack Swarbrick in the last several years, Notre Dame has really skyrocketed to where now, even where their facilities aren’t quite at the level as other programs, they’re close enough they’re not really the reason they’re going to lose a kid.”