Highway to Texas
Born in Dallas, Texas, Kerry Cooks has established himself as one the premier recruiters on Notre Dame's coaching staff. The former cornerbacks coach now turned secondary coach is entering his fourth year at Notre Dame and 11th year coaching college football. With the two newest members of Notre Dame football both hailing from the Lone Star State, junior commits safety Prentice McKinney of Dallas and wide receiver Jalen Guyton of Allen, Notre Dame has received 11 commitments from the state of Texas since Brian Kelly, and Kerry Cooks, took over at Notre Dame in December of 2009. In fact, not even including 2015, Texas ranks second as the most rewarding state for the Irish in the Brian Kelly era, behind only Indiana. The last two years in particular have spurred the talking point that Notre Dame is undoubtedly picking up momentum in Texas with each consecutive class. From the 2013 and 2014 signing classes, Corey Robinson, Torii Hunter, Durham Smythe, Grant Blankenship, Nick Watkins, and Kolin Hill will make up the Texas crew on Notre Dame's roster this upcoming season, joining previous years' signees Cam McDaniel, Jalen Brown and Nicky Barrati. What's more is that the three Notre Dame signees in 2014 from Texas, Watkins, Blankenship and Hill, all spurned offers from Texas in favor of Notre Dame. And, don't just pay heed to Bishop Dunne, the reputable Catholic school in Dallas. The point could be made that the Irish are expanding their wings within Texas, evidenced by Notre Dame's newest hailing from fresh faced (to Irish fans) South Oak Cliff and perennial powerhouse Allen. In 2015, Notre Dame has offered 15 prospects from Texas. Even if Notre Dame doesn't land another from Texas in 2015, the ratio of prospects offered and prospects seriously interested has been outstanding, a sure sign for good things to come. Defensive tackle Darrion Daniels (teammate of Nick Watkins), athlete John Humphrey (recently named Notre Dame to his top three), running back Ronald Jones (recently named Notre Dame to his top eight), cornerback Jaylon Lane (visiting this summer), safety James Locke (plans on visiting), and wide receiver Ryan Newsome (plans on visiting) are all very viable prospects Notre Dame could land. Recruits are portraying the vibe that Kerry Cooks is getting the message across loud and clear that Notre Dame is the place to be. "I don't have any favorites yet, but I'm really liking Notre Dame after they offered," Jaylon Lane told Irisheyes.com upon receiving a Notre Dame offer. "Coach Cooks didn't just spend like 10 minutes on the phone with me like most coaches, we talked for 45 minutes, and he sounded like they really want me and coach offer me a lot at Notre Dame." Charlie Strong, an assistant coach at Notre Dame in the mid-90's, proved himself at Louisville as an outstanding recruiter and coach, and he's looking to continue that trend at Texas. But, Notre Dame hasn't gotten the memo. It was able to rather easily convince 2014 signee Kolin Hill, who grew up a Texas fan, not to take a last minute visit to Austin after he reeled in the Longhorns offer late in the 2014 recruiting cycle. Current commits McKinney (who committed to Notre Dame without even visiting campus beforehand) and Guyton don't have Texas offers, but it would not shock if the Longhorns try to sweep in this summer or fall. Even with lots to play out down the road, my bet's with Notre Dame inking those two next February. Don't mess with Texas. Just don't tell that to Notre Dame and Kerry Cooks.
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