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Notre Dame looks to continue program and recruiting momentum against Florida State

| Friday, November 9, 2018

As Notre Dame aims to wrap up a perfect home record in the 2018 season against Florida State on Saturday and move to 10-0, it simultaneously will have its eye on the future.

With two big-name programs battling under the lights inside Notre Dame stadium, hosts of recruits will flock to South Bend this weekend. Before the start of the year, recruiting analyst for Blue and Gold Illustrated David McKinney said that the Irish would host three big recruiting weekends during the season: Michigan, Stanford and Florida State. He said the matchup has not lost its luster for the recruits coming in, and that Notre Dame will aim to impress a lot of them.

Zachary Yim | The Observer

Irish senior wide receiver Chris Finke runs upfield during Notre Dame’s 31-21 win over Northwestern on Saturday at Ryan Field.

“There are a lot of guys coming in. There are a lot of Notre Dame commits coming in from the class of 2019,” McKinney said. “J.D. Bertrand is a linebacker from Georgia who’s coming back — he was here earlier in the season and Notre Dame’s been communicating with him a lot. He committed to Georgia about a month or so ago but [the Irish] brought him in for a visit and he’s back for another one, so that’s something to definitely keep an eye on. There’s going to be a lot of 2020 and 2021 guys, probably more than 40 — there’s going to be a lot, I don’t have an exact number, but there is going to be a large group full of talent and it’ll definitely be a big recruiting atmosphere for sure.”

Those recruits will witness the convergence of two teams heading in opposite directions this season. The Seminoles (4-5, 2-5 ACC) are in the midst of a down year under first-year head coach Willie Taggart, and have many questioning what the trajectory and overall prominence of the program will be moving forward. Notre Dame, on the other hand, is currently the No. 3 team in the country. Yet, according to 247 Sports, the Seminoles still have the No. 10 recruiting class for 2019, while the Irish are just behind at No. 12. Despite the contrast in season records, these are two big-name programs that will continue to battle for recruiting supremacy. For Notre Dame, it has increased significance due to their being in the driver’s seat toward the College Football Playoff.

“I think now every game has recruiting significance tied to it because every game they win is a game closer to them getting to the playoffs,” McKinney said. “If you have a playoff run you’re going to pick up some steam on recruiting, whether it be in this class or the next class, but yes this game [definitely] has relevance.”

In terms of who the Irish are specifically targeting this weekend, McKinney laid out four individuals that could round out the class of 2019.

“I think there are probably two to three sports left in the 2019 class,” he said. “Isaiah Foskey, a defensive end, is a guy they really want. Asa Turner is a Washington commit and another guy [Notre Dame is trying to recruit]. Enokk Vimahi is an offensive lineman who they’re talking to, J.D. Bertrand is coming out for a second visit, so there aren’t that many spots left and those are the guys still left on the board.

“For 2020, there’s [just] a subset of the class as a whole right now. It’s probably a little early to figure out where they’re at with that [class]. They’re going to finish out the 2019 class and then hit the offseason, where maybe who have some guys transfer or leave who are currently on the roster, so we’ll figure that out, but they’re definitely recruiting heavily in 2020 right now.”

The Irish will look to essentially wrap up their recruitment of the class of 2019 by mid-December, when the early signing period opens. McKinney stressed that the early signing period is a critical one for head coach Brian Kelly and the entire Notre Dame staff.

“I’m expecting everybody that’s committed at that point to sign early because that’s how Brian Kelly likes to do it,” McKinney said. “Like they did last year — if you don’t sign early, they don’t consider you committed — they’re going to encourage everybody to sign early and they expect everybody to sign during that early period.”

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About Joe Everett

Joe is a senior PLS major and hails from the thriving metropolis of South Bend, IN. In addition to serving as Sports Editor at The Observer, Joe is a RA in Stanford Hall and a past champion of the Observer's Fantasy Football league.

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