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irish insider

Recruiting efforts slow, expected to pick up after USC matchup

| Friday, October 4, 2019

It’s a bit of a dead period for Notre Dame football’s current recruiting. Wedged between games against ranked opponents No. 23 Virginia and No. 3 Georgia and an upcoming home game against rival USC, the Irish coaching staff have not had an opportunity to scout recruits. Blue & Gold Illustrated recruiting analyst Mike Singer said the coaches likely won’t go out to view recruits until after Notre Dame’s matchup with the Trojans.

“When they have their bye week after the USC game, the coaches will hit the road and go see some recruits and some uncommitted guys,” Singer said. “That will be the week where the Irish coaches will be on the road recruiting.”

Also, with this Saturday’s home game against non-power-five team Bowling Green, it won’t be a big weekend for recruiting visits for the Irish after playing opponents like the Bulldogs and the Cavaliers. The Irish had some high profile commits and prospects in town for last weekend’s matchup.

“Ramon Henderson a 2020 defensive back in California officially visited for the Virginia game, and it went well,” Singer said. “[The] Irish actually had three commits on campus for that game in Gabriel Rubio, a 2021 defensive tackle from Missouri, Aidan Keanaaina, a 2020 nose tackle from Colorado, and then Cane Berrong, a 2021 tight end from Georgia.”

While there won’t be many high-profile visits for this weekend’s game, Singer said there most assuredly will be for the USC game.

“I’m not 100% sure right now who’s going to be on campus [for Bowling Green]. It shouldn’t be a big weekend, but the following week, when Notre Dame hosts USC, that’s going to be a big one,” he said. “There’s actually going to be a lot of talented guys. Some Notre Dame commits in the 2020 class will be taking their official visits, some big targets in 2021 will be there for unofficials. There will be some guys with offers for sure this weekend, but USC weekend is really the biggest recruiting weekend of the fall, at least that I’m aware of. That’s kind of shaping up to be the big one for Notre Dame.”

While it is early in the season and the team is primarily focusing on matters on the field, Singer says something that could help the Irish in the recruiting arena is the rapid improvement the defense has made this season in a handful of games, including its outstanding performance against Virginia.

“It just helps everything in general when the defense is clicking like it has been. I mean, it just helps the defensive prospects in general regardless of their position,” Singer said. “When Notre Dame has eight sacks in a game that obviously helps with defensive line prospects, and they did that in front of a couple of commitments, too, I mentioned, in Rubio and Keanaaina. That helps; that’s something that they can sell to recruits as well: ‘Hey, look at what we’re doing with our defensive lineman,’ or, ‘Hey, look, what Julian Okwara is doing, this is the position we want you to play, we want you to be like Julian Okwara.’ That kind of thing they could certainly sell to recruits.”

While this weekend may not be huge for recruiting and the coaching staff is preoccupied with the season ahead, Notre Dame’s prospects and commits are putting up big numbers around the country.

“Aidan Keanaaina, the interior defensive lineman from Colorado, he’s been playing really well,” Singer said. “This season he’s got, again this is a defensive lineman, in five games, has 44 tackles, and seven of those are for loss [and] six forced fumbles. He’s been playing really well. His tape is a lot of fun to watch. They’ve lost three of their five games this season, but he’s still wreaking havoc on his opponents. [2020 quarterback Drew] Pyne had a good bounce back game. His second game of the season wasn’t too good. His team lost, but he had a good game. Just this past Friday, he lead his team to a 54-7 victory. … Xavier Watts has been so good; 599 receiving yards, six touchdowns, got a bunch of tackles and making plays on defense. And then of course, [2021 quarterback] Tyler Buchner — he had an okay game, you know, over 400 total yards and six touchdowns, just okay for Tyler Buchner standards. So obviously he’s been doing really well this season.”

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