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Irish enjoy successful last home game on recruiting trail, set for West Coast visits

| Friday, November 24, 2017

After a tough outing against Miami (FL), Notre Dame rebounded on the field with a 24-17 win over Navy.

And the Irish may have rebounded on the recruiting trail as well.

Last Saturday, the Irish welcomed a few top recruits to campus in class of 2018 linebacker Payton Wilson, 2018 tight end Tommy Tremble and class of 2019 offensive lineman John Olmstead.

Until Wednesday afternoon, Wilson was verbally committed to North Carolina. However, Wilson took to Twitter yesterday to declare he is re-opening his recruiting process. That may be a good sign for Notre Dame fans, especially after a positive visit to South Bend.

“Payton Wilson was the official visitor, the big name; he had a good time,” Blue and Gold Illustrated recruiting analyst David McKinney said. “He kind of has an ‘old-friend’ vibe with [Irish linebackers coach] Clark Lea and [defensive coordinator] Mike Elko. They’ve been recruiting him since they were at Wake Forest, so he knows those guys. He’s comfortable with them.”

Wilson’s decommitment from North Carolina is a necessary step for an Irish coaching staff hoping to pick up another talented player, but McKinney said Wilson is far from picking up and moving to South Bend.

“He’s born and raised in North Carolina … so it’s going to be tough for him to leave that area of the country,” McKinney said. “I know N.C. State is making a push, Clemson’s getting involved as well. But he did tell me Notre Dame is a place where he can see himself leaving home and giving up that North Carolina lifestyle for. That was something he was worried about coming into the visit was the distance from home, but I think Notre Dame put that to rest.”

While Wilson would be a welcome surprise for Notre Dame, a player the Irish seem to be the frontrunner for is Rivals.com three-star tight end Tommy Tremble. Tremble took his official visit to Notre Dame during the USC game, but came back to South Bend this past weekend for an unofficial trip.

“[Tremble] was there on an unofficial visit. I think it went well,” McKinney said. “From everything he told me, it went pretty well. I think it’s just a matter of time until he’s in the class.”

Notre Dame sported uniforms honoring legendary Irish head coach Knute Rockne for the contest against Navy, featuring browned helmets and shoes and special decals. For some recruits, McKinney said, the special outfits are appealing, especially in the modern recruiting landscape.

“I think the change in the uniforms is a sign of the times — a lot of schools are doing that, and Notre Dame is one of them,” McKinney said. “They get a lot of play on Twitter or social media or what have you. Guys look into that. Some guys are traditionalists, and I think Notre Dame offers a lot of tradition, and I don’t necessarily think a different uniform one time a year really impedes that at all.

“I think there are a lot more guys who would find that interesting and kind of a cool thing than anybody who would be down on it.”

The Irish have no more home games this year, but that doesn’t mean the recruiting process will slow down in the coming weeks. After Notre Dame’s game against Stanford, Brian Kelly and members of the Irish coaching staff will likely remain out on the West Coast for a few days to make in-home visits to key recruits, as Kelly has done for a number of years.

McKinney said Irish special teams coach and recruiting coordinator Brian Polian will likely visit Notre Dame commits Chase Cota and Kyler Gordon in the Pacific Northwest.

Other Irish coaches are likely to check in with four-star safety Julius Irvin, four-star linebacker Solomon Tuliaupupu and five-star wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown, McKinney said.

And even though the Irish won’t have any more chances to showcase game days at Notre Dame Stadium, they will continue to bring top recruits to campus.

“Notre Dame usually has guys up for the Echoes Banquet in December. There will be a couple guys coming up for that: five-star offensive lineman Cade Mays, four-star defensive end Jayson Oweh are the guys on our list right now,”  McKinney said. “There’s plenty still left to go between now and signing day.”

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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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