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Recruiting battles intensify as Stanford, prospects set to visit South Bend

| Friday, September 28, 2018

Since Notre Dame’s massively hyped season opener against Michigan at Notre Dame Stadium, the recruiting trail has been fairly quiet. However, a top-10 matchup under the lights against No. 7 Stanford is set to change that.

The No. 8 Irish (4-0) have their eyes set on two specific players this weekend, who will be on official visits to the University, Blue and Gold Illustrated recruiting analyst David McKinney said.

Eddie Griesedieck | The Observer

The Irish defensive front-seven stonewalls an opponent during Notre Dame’s 56-27 win over Wake Forest on Saturday.

The first is Isaiah Foskey, a class of 2019 four-star tight end, according to recruiting website Rivals, and the No. 133 player in the country. While Foskey plays tight end in high school, McKinney said he is athletic enough to fill the class of 2019’s need for a defensive end, which is where Foskey would most likely end up if he were to come to Notre Dame.

“They don’t really have a lot of use for a tight end in this class, based on what they already have on the depth chart and what they already have committed in the 2020 class,” McKinney said. “But they like his athleticism enough that I could see them taking him as a defensive end and if it turns out offense is what he’s best suited for, he could do that down the road. But the beginning, it would be a defensive end situation.”

McKinney said Foskey’s opinion of Notre Dame has grown over time.

“Not a guy a year ago I would’ve said I would expect in serious consideration to be in this class, but I think that’s changed,” he said. “He visited unofficially on his own dime, which I think says a lot, and he’s coming back and has Notre Dame in his top five. So, again, it’s changed over the course of when he was offered over a year ago to now, I think there’s legitimate interest and I think Notre Dame likes him as a defensive end.”

The second recruit Notre Dame has its eye on this weekend is Gensen Hooper, a class of 2019 wide receiver and a Rivals three-star recruit. While the Irish already have two receivers committed in the class, McKinney said Notre Dame would add a third in a heartbeat if Hooper decided he wanted to join the class, as “Chip Long specifically sees him as a guy who could be kind of the game-changer” for Notre Dame.

“Notre Dame likes him because he’s 205-pounds and he’s got some speed and Chip Long likes that,” McKinney said. “ … Obviously, the class is getting close to filling up with 18 guys in it now, but this is the guy that Chip Long really likes and they will take him, I’m pretty sure no matter what, from what I’ve been told by people who would know.”

McKinney said Hooper is “not a big talker” in terms of recruitment, which makes his other options difficult to pin down. McKinney said Baylor might be another school on Hooper’s list, but if Hooper’s first official visit with the Irish goes well, McKinney said he “could see [Hooper] potentially making a big move here and considering Notre Dame the frontrunner.”

This weekend, there will be a number of recruits on campus who have already committed to join the class of 2019, including defensive end Howard Cross, safety Litchfield Ajavon and safety Kyle Hamilton. McKinney noted the main purpose of the visits for them is to help next year’s freshman class build a rapport with one another and get to meet one another face to face.

“There are guys from Texas, there are guys from New Jersey, there are guys from California, there are guys from Georgia. They don’t meet,” he said. “A lot of guys haven’t even met each other, let alone spent any time together. They text and they talk on the phone or whatever, but they haven’t gotten any face time. So, I think that’s the biggest thing is just spending time with the rest of the commits.”

The biggest thing about this weekend, however, is the opponent. Between their athletic and academic standards, Notre Dame and Stanford (4-0, 2-0 Pac-12) typically go after many of the same football players, and in the past few years many recruits’ decisions have come down to the two schools.

“Stanford’s kind of had Notre Dame’s number in the recruiting department the last couple of years,” McKinney said. “Thomas Booker, a defensive end last year, chose Stanford over Notre Dame. Walter Rouse, an offensive tackle this year, chose Stanford over Notre Dame. Paulson Adebo, who’s one of Stanford’s best defensive players, was committed to Notre Dame in 2016 and now plays a significant role for Stanford. Had two, what you could call, game-winning pass break-ups against Oregon, which obviously hurts. They go back and forth. A lot of guys who are at Notre Dame right now had Stanford offers. Stanford really wanted Kyle Hamilton, who’s in Notre Dame’s class. They really wanted NaNa Osafa-Mensah, who’s in Notre Dame’s class. They really wanted Zeke Correll, who’s in Notre Dame’s class, so they’re battling for guys all the time.

“A game like this when both guys are in the top-10 and in the playoff discussion, I think whoever wins this game will resonate with guys like that for a while.”

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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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