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Irish continue to focus on wrapping up 2019 class

| Friday, September 21, 2018

After a second-consecutive one-score win over an unranked team at home, the No. 8 Irish are finally hitting the road for the first time this season to take on Wake Forest.

This week at the Demon Deacons (2-1, 0-1 ACC) will be a slow one in terms of recruiting for the Irish according to Blue and Gold Illustrated recruiting analyst David McKinney. While sometimes away games are a chance to pull recruits from the opponent, Notre Dame (3-0) and Wake Forest share few common recruits, making Saturday essentially an off day from a recruiting standpoint.

“You see those in kind of bigger games when they play at USC, when they play at Stanford,” McKinney said. “One example, [sophomore defensive lineman] Myron Tagavailoa-Amosa, Notre Dame didn’t even know about him until [defensive line coach] Mike Elston saw him in the tunnel when he was visiting USC when they were playing at USC and made a point when they got back to look him up and get to him and everything. So, stuff like that happens, but I wouldn’t expect anything like that this weekend.”

And while the Vanderbilt game was not a huge one for recruits, McKinney noted the Irish did their best to make an impression on the handful of athletes who were on the sidelines for the 22-17 Notre Dame victory.

Emma Farnan | The Observer
Irish junior cornerback Troy Pride Jr. intercepts a pass in the end zone during Notre Dame’s 22-17 win over Vanderbilt on Saturday at Notre Dame Stadium.

One player in the class of 2019 who made an official visit last weekend was Josh Pakola, a four-star defensive end from Mountain View, California, according to Rivals. McKinney said despite Notre Dame pulling out all the stops for Pakola, he would be surprised if the high school senior commits to spending his next four years in South Bend.

“I think everyone will be pretty surprised if he went anywhere other than Stanford because Stanford’s kind of been the longtime leader for him and kind of the longtime expected landing spot,” McKinney said. “I think even after this official visit, Stanford is still kind of where he’s going to end up. I think Notre Dame made an impression and did the best they could, but I think Stanford is probably where he’ll end up.”

However, one player the Irish are likely to add to the roster next season is kicker Harrison Leonard. Leonard, a three-star recruit out of Avon Old Farms, Connecticut, has Notre Dame at the top of his list.

“If they end up offering, it will be a preferred walk-on spot for him,” McKinney said. “And what he told me is [special teams coach] Brian Polian wants to go see him kick during Notre Dame’s bye-week on Oct. 20 and, so Brian Polian will see him kick and if everything goes well there, they’ll offer him the preferred walk-in spot and he said he’ll pretty much take that automatically. So, he should end up in the class as a preferred walk-on, instead of as a scholarship player.”

The class of 2019 is starting to fill up for Notre Dame, as it starts to near its scholarship cap. However, there are still some needs to be filled, especially on the defensive side of the ball, McKinney said.

“I think you have to look at defensive end. I think that’s probably the most important position,” he said. “I think really, that might be the only position where it’s an absolute need. I mean, they absolutely have to get another defensive end in this class, I would say. And if they miss on the guys remaining like [Rivals four-star defensive end] Bralen Trice, you’ll see new offers go out and they evaluate some new season film and look toward putting out some new offers, but I think, defensive end. I think maybe one more cornerback is something they’re looking at.”

Looking past the current recruiting class, the main activity this week was in an offer made to class of 2020 linebacker Justin Flowe, a Rivals five-star from Upland, California. Flowe is the No. 1 outside linebacker in the class of 2020 and No. 3 player nationally.

“He’s obviously really, one of the top players in the country,” McKinney said. “ … As far as Notre Dame, it’s obviously early, he hasn’t been on campus or anything. I think USC is kind of the default consensus for him, kind of being a California guy, but from everything I’ve heard, he’s not locked into that yet. I think that’s kind of the consensus, what people think because he’s from California and USC does really good in getting that kind of talent. He has offers from Alabama, Penn State, Oklahoma, every offer in the country. He’ll take some visits and Notre Dame will obviously want to be one of them.”

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About Elizabeth Greason

Elizabeth is a senior studying civil engineering from New York, NY (yes, the actual city). She is a proud resident assistant in McGlinn Hall and is a die-hard Mets and Giants fan. She is currently serving as assistant managing editor of The Observer and she also has an obsession with golf that is bordering on unhealthy.

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