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Kelly, Notre Dame hoping to ride on-field momentum to solidify recruiting classes

| Wednesday, December 5, 2018

After completing its first undefeated regular season since 2012 and earning a spot in the College Football Playoff for the first time, Notre Dame is once again back on the top tier of the college football world.

The Irish (12-0) are nationally relevant again. Not only momentous in the here and now, Notre Dame’s special season could reap quite a few benefits in the recruiting trail down the road, said Blue and Gold Illustrated recruiting analyst David McKinney — especially in the Class of 2020.

“Any time you’re one of the four teams in the Playoff it’s going to help. They’re 12-0 and playing really well — I think in terms of recruiting impact you look at the Class of 2020, the next class. I think [the undefeated season] will really grab attention for those guys,” McKinney said. “ … They’re out on the road recruiting now, and they’re going into kids’ schools and houses and presenting a 12-0, undefeated program that’s in the playoffs and battling for a spot in the National Championship. It definitely helps the image and reputation and all that.”

With only a couple of spots left in the 2019 class, and with the early signing period just two weeks away, the Irish have their eyes set on some familiar names.

“The last two guys are Isaiah Foskey, a four-star defensive end from California, and Asa Turner, a four-star linebacker — also from California — who is currently committed to Washington,” McKinney said. “Those are really the last two guys they’re looking at. I feel better about them getting Foskey right now … but they haven’t given up on Asa Turner and we’ll see where that goes.”

After Notre Dame’s 24-17 victory over USC to seal its undefeated season, the Irish players took some time off to relax and recover. The Irish coaching staff experienced less of a break, as head coach Brian Kelly and his team spent much of it traveling the country recruiting, both checking in with current 2019 commits while also taking a look at class of 2020 targets. Since Notre Dame expects every one of the players in the class of 2019 to sign in December, the visits by Kelly and the staff were more of a celebration of that imminent achievement more than anything else, McKinney said.

“For guys that have been committed for as long as most of these guys have, it’s just kind of an enjoyable thing that they get to do,” he said. “It reaffirms their commitment to Notre Dame and Notre Dame’s commitment to them, [but] it’s not really a serious thing, especially with guys that have been committed so long. [Nevertheless], it’s good to get on the road and build relationships with the kids and the parents and their families, so it’s always good to have that.”

Overall, and as it currently stands, Notre Dame’s class of 2019 is comprised of 21 members and ranks 10th overall, according to 247Sports, and features a good deal of talent on both sides of the ball.

“I think the first thing you look at is the offensive line,” McKinney said. “Right now I think Zeke Correll just got into the Top-100 on Rivals.com. Quinn Carroll is the No. 54 player in the country. Andrew Kristofic could turn out to be a diamond-in-the rough prospect — he’s a four-star [lineman]. John Olmstead’s a four-star [lineman]. With those four guys, they’re doing really well [on the offensive line]. They have two Top-100 safeties in Kyle Hamilton and Litchfield Ajavon — another really good safety class for Notre Dame. … It’s those positions that really jump out at you.”

After focusing on recruiting over the past couple of weeks, Kelly and Notre Dame are now spending most of their time concentrating on their CFP semi-final opponent: Clemson. However, the matchup with the Tigers (13-0) is not without recruiting implications. Clemson is a perennial powerhouse and currently holds the No. 5 recruiting class in the country, per 247Sports. While McKinney says Notre Dame has already proven its merit by the way it played this season and the teams it beat, toppling a program like Clemson wouldn’t hurt in solidifying and legitimizing Notre Dame’s reputation as a marquee destination for recruits to come play for a national championship.

“I don’t necessarily know if they need [a signature win]. They beat Michigan to start the year and that’s one of the top programs in the country,” McKinney said. “But yeah, going to play for a national championship and winning a playoff game — being 13-0 — of course that would help. I don’t know if it’s a necessity, but obviously Notre Dame wants to win that game and they’re prepping like they’re going to play for a national championship, so playing for the [title] would be a boost for sure.”

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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 formerly 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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