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irish insider

Irish reaping benefits of early recruiting work

| Friday, September 27, 2019

Notre Dame football recruiting has reached a lull. With the college football season completely underway and teams forming their identities in week 5, and the Irish no exception, there isn’t much recruiting news.

However, that is a good sign for Notre Dame, according to Blue & Gold Illustrated recruiting analyst Mike Singer.

“Right about now things are a little slow due to the fact that Notre Dame has 85 to 90% of its 2020 class already. During the summer, they picked up a bunch of commitments that made this early fall period rather slow, so slow is good right now,” Singer said. “Notre Dame locked up guys like [wide receiver] Jordan Johnson and [tight end] Michael Mayer and [quarterback] Drew Pyne and [running back] Chris Tyree, all these elite offensive weapons, still early in the process, so they can really focus on the season. So yeah, recruiting is going well. It’s a top-15 class in the country, this being the 2020 class, and yeah, things are looking good.”

With Notre Dame solidifying most of its 2020 class already, the Irish can shift their focus towards rounding out the class of 2021, headlined by California quarterback Tyler Buchner, who nearly broke the state record for total yards in a game just recently. Singer said Buchner has looked very impressive in the way he’s performed, especially after coming back from a serious injury.

“He’s phenomenal. You watch his film and, I don’t want to put huge comparisons on the guy, but he hits some of his throws and you’re like, ‘Holy crap,’” Singer said. “… Some of his awkward throws look like an Aaron Rodgers throw, like he’s evading a pass rusher and throwing side-arm to get it out to his receiver on the edge. He just throws the ball so effortlessly, and he throws the ball very well from awkward situations on the move. So, Tyler Buckner — remember this is a guy who missed his sophomore season due to an ACL injury that he suffered in his first game. So, this is his first real action since his freshman year of high school. And he’s just dominating.”

Aside from Buchner, several other Irish prospects are off to strong starts to the high school football season.

“Other guys that are performing well off the top of my head, Xavier Watts has put up some really good numbers as a receiver and a defensive back,” Singer said. “Chris Tyree, he’s been banged up a little bit with an ankle injury, but he looked really good to start the season, put up some really nice numbers. [Wide receiver] Jay Brunelle is off to a good start, he’s had over 100 yards in both his first two games this season. Cane Berrong has looked good, the 2021 tight end from Georgia. Gabriel Rubio, defensive tackle in the 2021 class from St. Louis, Missouri, he looked really good. I mean he had nine sacks in a recent game. … Michael Mayer, he’s been dominant. I mean I could go on and on, but yeah, the commits have definitely had a really strong start to the season.”

Regarding Tyree, the 5-foot-10 running back from Chester, Virginia, is tied as the second-highest rated prospect among 2020 Irish recruits, according to Rivals.com. Singer said Tyree’s recruitment is indicative of the recruiting mindset of the Irish coaching staff.

“So my understanding is that Notre Dame really values speed; speed and more speed at the running back position, and Chris Tyree really fits that,” he said. “Some of the guys they’re looking at in the 2021 class … they’re really valuing speed at the running back position in that class as well, like Will Shipley, a guy from the Charlotte, North Carolina, area is one that they’re after in the 2021 class. Shipley is a very speedy, dynamic back. Tyree is one of the best all-purpose backs in the country in 2020, and Shipley, one of the best in 2021. So, Notre Dame wants a fast running back who can catch the ball well out of the backfield, and you can put them in the slot.”

Ann Curtis | The Observer
Irish senior running back Tony Jones Jr. slips a tackle during Notre Dame’s 23-17 loss at Georgia on Sept. 21. The Irish are looking to recruit explosive and versatile running backs in the 2020 and 2021 classes.

In terms of how the Irish will fare in the recruiting arena, Singer has confidence in running backs coach Lance Taylor and the job he’s done in his first year.

“Notre Dame is definitely looking like you’re taking that next step at running back recruiting,” Singer said. “Lance Taylor has just done a great job. I can’t say enough good things about what he’s been able to do in such a short time at Notre Dame, and obviously him coming in helped the Irish land Chris Tyree. I think Notre Dame might’ve been able to land him even if Lance Taylor wasn’t the running backs coach, because he has a really good relationship with Chip Long, but Lance is just doing a good job recruiting running backs right now.”

While Tyree is set on the Irish, Saturday’s matchup with the No. 18 Cavaliers could have recruiting implications for other prospects in the area. However, so long as Notre Dame doesn’t fall off a cliff, so to speak, Singer believes this game doesn’t have major implications for Irish recruiting.

“The way I see it is, let’s say Notre Dame goes out and loses. I don’t think it really damages recruiting, but if they go out there and win, it’s a positive, unless they completely laid an egg against Virginia at home,” Singer said. “But even if they were upset in a tight battle, I honestly don’t think it does huge damage for recruits. Notre Dame will have some decent recruits at the game on Saturday. Ramon Henderson is a 2020 defensive back from California that will be there for an official visit, he’s a big target for the Irish. So obviously winning is always a way to solve problems. But again, I think if they lose, honestly, I don’t see it as a huge impact on the recruiting trail, but it would help things. I don’t think they’re going to win any recruits just because they beat Virginia, but it’s always a positive thing.”

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About Hayden Adams

Hayden is the former sports editor of The Observer. When he's not working toward his four majors (physics and film, television & theatre) and three minors (journalism, ethics & democracy), you can probably find him hopelessly trying to save his beloved Zahm House from being wiped out. He plans to attend law school at a TBD location after graduation.

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