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Irish hope to claim more commits as Eagles head to South Bend

| Friday, November 22, 2019

As the Irish prepare to play host to the Boston College Eagles, they also hope to turn some of the players visiting this weekend into future Irish commits. With the 2020 class mostly filled, the team has turned most of its attention to filling the 2021 and 2022 classes. Among the prospects visiting this weekend is 2022 inside linebacker Tyler Martin from Cambridge, Massachusetts. For a detailed breakdown on Martin and all things Notre Dame recruiting, Sports Illustrated’s Bryan Driskell spoke with The Observer about the team’s recruiting, and had high praise for Martin in advance of his visit.

“He’s a big kid, 6’3”, 230 pounds, ran well this summer. He’s a linebacker right now, but he has one of those big bodies,” Driskell said. “He’s a sophomore and he’s already that big, the way he moves you project for him to be an outside linebacker, defensive end kind of player. Michigan is considered the early favorite with him, but Notre Dame has been on him. They have not offered yet. If they were to offer, I think they could make some noise for him.”

With Michigan being an early favorite for Martin, one has to wonder if the letdown game the Irish played in Ann Arbor this year could affect his recruiting. While Driskell said it is not a certainty it will hurt the Irish, he believes it can potentially be a factor.

“I think it can matter. There’s some guys in the 2021 class that are looking at Notre Dame and Michigan like [defensive tackle] Rocco Spindler, [running back] Donovan Edwards, [offensive lineman] Garrett Dellinger — those are some talented players. If you’re a 50-50 kid and you’re not sure because you like Michigan in some areas and you like Notre Dame in other areas, that game is a thing that could sway you,” Driskell said. “For most kids, it’s not going to be the end-all-be-all. I think if you’re a kid looking at both schools, it’s hard not to think, ‘Michigan can now play with the big teams.’”

With that primetime game behind them, the Irish are seeking one more primetime game in the form of a New Year’s Six bowl berth. The way the college football landscape is shaping up, the Irish will need tons of help to be eligible for the Cotton Bowl. Driskell pointed out that for a bowl to help with recruiting, winning is more important than the bowl’s prestige.

“It depends on whether or not you win. If you go to the Cotton Bowl and you get beat, I don’t think that helps you as much as going to the Camping World Bowl and winning. For example, go back and look at the 2014 season. You start the season 7-1, then lose the last four games. They go to the Music City Bowl against LSU and win against Leonard Fournette and a pretty good LSU team. That gave them a lot of momentum because what recruits cared about wasn’t the name of the bowl, it was that they beat LSU,” Driskell said. “Then you fast forward to 2017. You lose two of your last three games, go from No. 3 in the playoff rankings to out, then go to the Citrus Bowl and play LSU and win. That’s a big win.”

Even if the Irish do make the Cotton Bowl, the likely opponent they will face is Memphis. The Tigers are a good team, the best of the group of five, but not a matchup that Irish fans and recruits would be particularly excited about. Driskell said from a recruiting perspective, a marquee matchup can be more beneficial than a prestigious bowl game.

“If Notre Dame gets to the Cotton Bowl, they’re going to play Memphis. While it would be huge to win the Cotton Bowl, looking at it as far as impacting recruits you have to ask yourself, ‘What’s going to have a bigger impact on recruiting: winning the Cotton Bowl over Memphis, or Notre Dame going to the Camping World Bowl and playing an Oklahoma State or a Texas or a school with a bit more name recognition?’ It’s more about who you beat and what your record is than the actual bowl.” Driskell said. “In a perfect world, if they could go to the Cotton Bowl and play Florida, Oklahoma, Baylor or someone like that, that’s the ideal situation, but the odds are slim to none.”

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