Irish set for final home recruitment weekend
Elizabeth Greason | Friday, November 17, 2017
No. 8 Notre Dame will have its final chance to show recruits what it has to offer at home this season Saturday as the Irish take on Navy.
Notre Dame (8-2) will have some ground to make up with recruits after its blowout loss to Miami (FL) last weekend. The Hurricanes knocked the Irish out of contention for the College Football Playoffs in front a number of recruits who were on their official visits to Miami but also have Notre Dame on their radars.
According to Blue and Gold recruiting analyst David McKinney, one loss should not be too detrimental to Notre Dame’s pursuit of recruits, as most high schoolers are able to look past one poor showing.
“It’s only one loss, obviously it was a blowout, that’s not what they wanted to do on the national stage as a top-10 team, but I think a lot of these kids, most of these kids are smart enough to not hang their hat on one loss,” McKinney said. “So, I don’t think it will have a huge negative connotation, but there were a lot of recruits there visiting Miami, who obviously saw Miami be better than Notre Dame that night, but in the long run, I don’t know if it will have a huge, huge effect.”
Miami followed a similar strategy to one that Notre Dame frequently employs in marquee matchups and brought in a number of recruits who are also looking at the Irish. This paid off for the Hurricanes, as the Irish struggled mightily. McKinney said in order to make up for this performance in front of recruits, the Irish need to win out and focus on getting to a New Year’s Six bowl.
“You just keep winning, close the season strong, go to a New Year’s Six Bowl, beat Navy, beat Stanford,” McKinney said. “Obviously, the Playoffs are pretty much out of the picture unless absolute chaos happens, but they beat Navy, they beat Stanford, they go to a New Year’s Six Bowl, they’re looking a lot better coming off the season than they were last year, when they were sort of limping to signing day — losing recruits like Pete Werner and Elijah Hicks and Paulson Adebo. This year, I don’t think they’re going to have that situation after the season where guys are backing off their pledges. I really don’t see that happening. So just win these last two games, go to a good bowl game and win that game, and I think that’ll speak for itself.”
The Irish did not pick up any commitments this week after gaining a verbal commitment from three-star corner Joe Wilkins Jr. the previous week and three-star wide receiver Geordon Porter the week before. McKinney noted this week’s lack of commits is likely not as much due to the squad’s showing at Miami, but can simply be attributed to the fact that the recruiting season is reaching a slowing point for many athletes who plan on holding out on their decision.
“I don’t think the loss has anything to do with it,” McKinney said. “It’s kind of getting down to the point where kids are making decisions, but a lot of them will hold off until mid-February. [Notre Dame] got three commitments over the last month, so it’s been kind of a quick time. A lot of times, things get really fast for a bit of time and things slow down a lot. I think from Aug. 11 was when Kevin Austin committed, then I don’t think they had another commitment until Paul Moala on Oct. 22. In recruiting, sometimes things are going really fast and sometimes things are going really slow. It’s kind of a cyclical thing.”
Looking forward to this weekend, four of the nation’s top recruits will be on campus.
“Probably the biggest name is Payton Wilson, who is a four-star linebacker. He’s in the top 250, from North Carolina,” McKinney said. “He’s committed to the University of North Carolina, but he’s taking visits, Notre Dame obviously being one of them. He’s got a really good relationship with [Irish linebackers coach] Clark Lea and [defensive coordinator] Mike Elko, who recruited him when they were at Wake Forest, so that’s carrying over and that’s been very important to him. So, he is kind of the marquee name for this weekend for the class of 2018.
“And then for 2019, there’s two guys to really keep an eye on. One is Joseph Anderson, he’s a four-star defensive end from Murfreesboro, Tennessee. He’s obviously important. He really likes Notre Dame. This is his second visit this year and his third visit overall to Notre Dame and I think Notre Dame has a really, really good shot with him. Then there’s John Olmstead, he’s a 2019 offensive tackle. I think Notre Dame is in very good position with him. He’s from New Jersey, so a state that Notre Dame obviously makes a priority. They’ve got three guys in the class of 2018 committed out of the state of New Jersey.”
Three-star tight end Tommy Tremble will also be returning to campus this weekend for an unofficial visit, just weeks after making his official visit at the USC game.
“We’ve thought for a long time that Notre Dame is the leader and I expect Tommy Tremble to be in the class when all is said and done,” McKinney said. “Whether that happens sooner or later, we don’t have an exact read on. He wants to take other visits. He’s got visits set up to Michigan and UCLA, but he’s coming back to Notre Dame on his own dime less than a month after making his official visit, so I think that should be really all you need to know.”
This weekend will be Notre Dame’s last chance to seal the deal with any potential commits with a home game.
“I think any time there’s an atmosphere like that [in playing Navy], that’s a positive and obviously they’re wearing those alternate uniforms, some guys are into those, some guys aren’t, but you know, I think that will catch the eye of various guys coming into town,” McKinney said. “It’s the last home game, I think they’ll probably play into the tradition and the atmosphere of everything and just kind of that aura that Notre Dame gives off. Obviously, with this being it for those seniors, I think they’ll kind of be into that a little bit, talking to these recruits, ‘You’ll be doing this in four years,’ stuff like that.”