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Irish recruiting efforts to pick up ahead of rivalry matchup

| Friday, October 11, 2019

Although Notre Dame’s recruiting focus may not have been a central concern last week, considering the matchup with Bowling Green and the time of year, this weekend’s matchup against USC sets the stage for the very opposite when it comes to potential commits. 

Emma Farnan | The Observer
Irish sophomore tight end Tommy Tremble breaks away from a defender during Notre Dame’s 52-0 over Bowling Green on Oct. 5 at Notre Dame Stadium.

A national rivalry game like this is a prime opportunity for any school to impress recruits, and for Notre Dame (4-1), playing a long-time rival like USC in South Bend is an opportunity to make a statement on the recruiting stage as well as on the field. 

The Irish will have a number of recruits visiting South Bend this weekend. But, according to Mike Singer, recruiting analyst for Blue and Gold Illustrated, there are four recruits that stand out especially. First, two wide receivers, both four-star recruits according to Rivals.com, in the Class of 2021 will be visiting South Bend. 

“Deion Colzie, he’s from Athens Academy in Georgia. This will be his fourth time visiting Notre Dame — he visited last fall for a game, this spring, this summer and then, this weekend, it’ll be his fourth time on campus. What else is there really left for him to see at this point? So, I’m thinking he’s nearing a commitment to the Fighting Irish,” Singer said. “Georgia is certainly in the mix for him … but definitely like Notre Dame’s chances for him. I got to see him in early September, and he was dominant — think of that kind of Chase Claypool mold of a big body, possession receiver and someone who could stretch the field vertically as well. So, I definitely like Deion Colzie.” 

Singer said the Irish are continuing their focus on the receivers as they welcome another potential classmate of Colzie.

“Another 2021 receiver visiting this weekend is Lorenzo Styles from Pickerington Central in Ohio, and he is kind of a do-it-all receiver. And he could be a defensive back at the next level as well; he could become a really good safety. So, Styles is just a dynamic player with the ball in his hands. His father played at Ohio State in the 1990s, so the Buckeyes will be tough to beat, but I feel really good about Notre Dame’s chances with Lorenzo Styles.” 

Snagging two highly-touted recruits would be a huge get for the Irish, who managed to put together an impressive wide receiver unit in the 2020 class as well.

“Looking at those two 2020 receivers, if Notre Dame can get both of those guys like I think they can, then receivers coach DelVaughn Alexander and offensive coordinator Chip Long have to be very, very pleased,” Singer said. “I mean, you look at the strong receiver group they landed in 2020, which included five-star receiver Jordan Johnson according to Rivals, so if they’re able to get [Styles and Colzie], it’s just a great run of receiver prospects here potentially for Notre Dame.”

Moving on, Will Shipley, an all-purpose running back from Weddington in Matthews, North Carolina, and Rocco Spindler, an offensive lineman from Clarkston, Michigan, both class of 2021 recruits, will be visiting for the USC game. Although Notre Dame may not be as close to grabbing them as they are Colson and Styles, Singer said he likes Notre Dame’s chances with these guys. 

“Will Shipley in the class of 2021 [is visiting this weekend] as well. I saw him in late September — just a do-it-all, all-purpose running back, a run between the tackles guy as well. Again, he can do it all. It is early in his recruitment. While I could see Colzie or Styles committing this fall, I don’t see that with Shipley,” Singer said. “I think he’ll be someone who will commit to a school next spring or summer. Shipley is very high on Notre Dame. He has a fantastic relationship with [Notre Dame running backs coach] Lance Taylor and is really looking forward to meeting Brian Kelly on his visit this weekend, so he’ll get to do that. Clemson is on him hard, a lot of those schools in the Mid-Atlantic — North Carolina, North Carolina State. Academics are really important to him so he’s looking closely at Notre Dame and Northwestern and Stanford. But the thing about Notre Dame for him is that they offer such great football and such great academics, which offers kind of the best of both worlds for him.” 

Singer said that Spindler has a lot of upside for the Irish.

“[Also visiting is] Clarkston, Michigan offensive lineman Rocco Spindler. He’s a top-100 prospect in the country. Honestly, he could play guard, center or defensive tackle at the next level. Depending on how long his arms are he could even play tackle. He’s just a really, really good prospect. I think he’s leaning Michigan at this time, but Notre Dame has done a good job recruiting him, he’s got a good relationship with [Notre Dame assistant coach] Jeff Quinn.”

Overall, if the Irish managed to snag all four of these recruits in the class of 2021, they’d be on their way to a very impressive 2021 recruiting class, according to Singer.

“If Notre Dame is able to land those four guys — this 2021 class is already pretty darn good early on. I mean, there’s just a few commitments. But, if you’re able to get these four, Notre Dame could really be setting themselves up for an epic 2021 class,” he said. 

And when it comes to what the Irish can do to help their recruiting efforts for the 2021 class and beyond, Singer said winning always helps, and recruiting visits for big home games like the one this weekend can play a crucial role. 

“Just win, baby. That always helps. It just builds momentum. I’ll never say that a win over a certain school or getting to 11 wins instead of 10 wins will be the deciding factor for a recruit. Maybe winning a national championship could be that,” Singer said. “But, you know, relationships and academics, especially for Notre Dame kids, that’s what it really comes down to. But, when you win games — if you beat USC. … The recruits at the New Mexico game, the recruits at the Bowling Green game — they just raved about the atmosphere at those games for Notre Dame. Think about how much crazier it’s going to be for USC. If Notre Dame beats USC at home in just a crazy green-out environment, that could really put Notre Dame over the top for some kids. Or, maybe not over the top, but it can elevate Notre Dame in their minds. It’s just another thing — I want to play in front of these 80,000 fans every week, this fanbase is awesome. So, just winning on your home field, it really does help with building up hype and building up how recruits think about Notre Dame.”

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