Inside is a breakdown of where Notre Dame stands with its top linebacker and tight end prospects in 2015, as well as how many big skill prospects the Irish are expected to add in this recruiting cycle.
Tight end (1)
Top targets (alphabetically):
Four-star Chris Clark
– A Notre Dame
legacy, Clark visited Notre Dame two weekends ago and exuded a very positive vibe post-visit. The former North Carolina commit will visit Michigan and Ohio State this upcoming weekend, and he'll see Auburn in June. A trip to Nebraska could also be in the works.
Clark previewed his upcoming visits and pending decision with Scout.com's Michigan's site two days ago:
"I'm the type of kid that when I go on these visits I tend to like all these schools," Clark said. "So, just kind of the same things that I look for at other schools when I go on visits but now I'm going to take these visits a lot more serious and really ask the questions that need to be asked to the coaches and just get a feel with the players, what they're like."
"Now, I went back on my word once and I had a tough time doing that and so now it's all serious stuff. I really got to figure out where I'm going to play college football. So, these next three (Michigan, Ohio State, Auburn) visits are really important."
"At that point I still honestly might take more time to still kind of figure it out," Clark said. "And maybe I might throw in another visit, maybe to Nebraska, but that's kind of just play it by ear type stuff with the other schools."
"I'm definitely not going to rush a decision again, not this time."
Four-star Will Gragg
– An Arkansas native, Gragg would be a tough pull from SEC country when you consider his offer list. However, he's not naming favorites (thought he has tentative officials lined up to Alabama, Florida State, LSU, Ole Miss and Texas). When he was offered by Notre Dame in early April, he told Irisheyes.com he plans on visiting this summer and/or fall. Gragg is fully aware of Notre Dame's tight end tradition, and could end up giving Notre Dame serious consideration.
Other notable offers: Alize Jones
(UCLA commit), Jordan Davis
(A&M commit), Devonaire Clarington
When it's all said and done, I believe that Clark will end up with the Irish based on his family connections to the school and Notre Dame's history of producing standout tight ends. However, he does have three more visits lined up, and Auburn, Michigan and Ohio State aren't places not worthy of competition. Depending on how the 2015 class shakes out, Notre Dame could even take two tight ends in this class, though my personal opinion is such addition would border upon unnecessary given the current depth chart.
Top OUTSIDE targets (alphabetically):
Four-star Josh Barajas
- It was somewhat of surprise that Barajas pulled the trigger for Penn State when he did. The first in-state product to receive a Notre Dame offer in this class, Notre Dame will stay in touch as the fall season progresses if its still looking to add at the position.
Four-star Asmar Bilal
– Another in-state ‘backer, Bilal picked up an offer when he visited campus a couple of weeks ago. Bilal also added a Michigan offer recently. He's rather laidback about the process right now, and a sudden commitment would strike me as surprising. I like the Irish's chances very much here in the end, however.
Four-star Justin Hilliard
- The Cincy product is Notre Dame's No. 1 target at the position. Hilliard visited for the Blue-Gold game last weekend, which was his 5th visit to campus overall. His best relationship is with the Irish staff, and I would venture to say he feels most comfortable with Notre Dame's campus. In the end, I think Ohio State will be the biggest completion. Hilliard has a tentative plan to cut his list to five by the end of May after he visits Florida and Florida State. Iowa, Michigan, Notre Dame, and Ohio State should all make that cut.
Scout.com spoke with Hilliard's father recently about his son's decision timeline and what will distinguish the school he chooses from the rest of the pack. Click here
Four-star Osa Masina
– Masina visited Notre Dame last summer. He currently is not naming leaders, but whether he will revisit the Irish is up in the air. A prospect worth keeping an eye down the line, Masina is versatile and could project inside as well, operating with an entire 6-foot-4 frame.
Four-star Cassius Peat
– Peat has scheduled an official visit to Notre Dame the weekend the Irish take on Stanford, where Peat's older brother plays. It's possible he could visit before then (he had to cancel a spring visit due to a scheduling conflict with the ACT), but a date has not yet been set. My opinion is that Peat is genuinely interested in the Irish, not merely using an official as a free trip to see his brother as has been suggested. Whether there will be room for him should he decide he wants to come is another story.
Other notable offers: Malik Jefferson
, John Houston
, Jeff Holland
, Adonis Thomas
, Manny Bowen
, Dominic Sheppard
, Bo Wallace
Top INSIDE targets (alphabetically):
Three-star Te'Von Coney
– The Palm Beach Gardens (Fla.) High standout's most recent offer is from Notre Dame, who offered this past week becoming his 12th offer. There is potential he could visit in June. Coney, who has received a majority of his big-time offers in the past two months, is not currently naming standouts. He visited Florida and Miami this spring.
Other notable offers: Leo Lewis
, Cecil Cherry
(Tennessee commit), De'Amontae Jackson
One of the main surprises for me at this point is how few middle linebackers Notre Dame has offered. If Notre Dame is aiming to take three linebackers, I see the staff taking a true middle linebacker, a true outside man, and one that plays outside, but could fill in at middle if needed. Bilal and Masina fit the bill as inside or outside linebackers.
Recent visitor four-star middle linebacker Nick Conner
hinted that a Notre Dame offer could come his way this summer, should he perform well at camp.
Ideally, it's my belief the staff would add Hilliard, Bilal and Coney at this point.
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