Emphasis on recruiting during bye week

Notre Dame's staff hit the road during the team's bye week, visiting key 2015 prospects left on the board and extending offers to some of the nation's elite 2016 players.

During Notre Dame's bye week, Notre Dame's coaching staff exerted considerable attention addressing recruiting, making headway with both the 2015 and 2016 classes.

A few takeaways:

1. Despite already having garnered the commitments of three cornerbacks (Shaun Crawford, Ashton White, Nick Coleman) and two safeties (Nicco Fertitta and Prentice McKinney) in the 2015 class, Notre Dame is looking to still add at the position group.

(Note: Notre Dame will likely only add at cornerback should an elite prospect want to jump on board, namely a pair of Californians in four-star Ykili Ross, who will make his official visit to Notre Dame on Oct. 4 when the Irish take on Stanford, and five-star Iman Marshall, who will also take one of his five official visits to Notre Dame.)

However, Notre Dame's recent attrition at the safety position allows the staff to be increasingly flexible in who it targets at the position.

Following the 2014 season, only Drue Tranquill, Max Redfield, Nicky Baratti, Elijah Shumate, Matthias Farley and Eilar Hardy will have eligibility remaining. Baratti will face an uphill climb to find his way back into the safety rotation following shoulder surgery, and Tranquill and Farley could ideally project elsewhere on the gridiron, at linebacker and nickel back, respectively. Recall that no true safety was taken in last year's class.

As a result, Notre Dame extended offers to a trio of safety prospects last week.

- Hunter Dale (River Ridge (La.) John Curtis Christian) - A three-star prospect, Dale is also considering Florida, Tennessee and Oregon. Dale will take an official visit to Notre Dame, which could occur as early as the the Irish's game vs. Louisville, though a post-season visit is more likely.

- Kahlil Haughton (Waco, Texas, Midway) - A four-star prospect, Haughton is also being pursued heavily by Arkansas, Baylor, Oklahoma and Texas Tech.

- Tyree Kinnel (Huber Heights, Ohio), Wayne) - A four-star prospect, Kinnel, a Michigan commit, maintains that he's solid to the Wolverines despite the Irish offer, though he's a prospect worth monitoring down the stretch.

Finally, four-star safety Frank Buncom of San Diego (Calif.) will take an official visit to Notre Dame for either its game vs. Stanford or vs. North Carolina in October. Stanford is also a player here. Buncom is ranked as the No. 8 safety nationally in 2015.

2. Taking two more running backs in 2015 is a viable option.

Recall that Notre Dame did not sign a running back in 2014. However, Greg Bryant's redshirt gives the Irish some leeway in numbers going forward.

Warrington (Pa.) Central Bucks South running back Josh Adams will combine with at least one more back in 2015 to make up Notre Dame's running back class in February.

Notre Dame's No. 1 target at the position, Sotonye Jamabo, will announce his decision this fall. Notre Dame continues to be in a great position to land him, with the primary competition stemming from Baylor, Texas A&M and UCLA.

Last week, Notre Dame extended an offer to three-star running back Kendall Bussey of New Orleans (La.) Isidore Newman. Bussey, a five-foot-9, 190-pound back plans to take an official visit to Notre Dame this season. Other programs in contention include Arizona State, Nebraska and Texas Tech. The Irish have potential to emerge as a legit player in this race, despite the offer coming rather late in the recruiting cycle.

3. The staff was active on the road, visiting current 2015 commits and many top 2015 prospects remaining on the board.

- Irish assistant Scott Booker was in attendance for Baltimore (Md.) Calvert Hall vs. Bel Air (Md.) John Carroll on Friday night to see wide receiver Lawrence Cager, who reeled in the the winning touchdown reception in a 14-13 Calvert Hall win. The 6-foot-5, 195-pound wide out has yet to pick up an Irish offer, though he'll continue to be evaluated going forward. Notre Dame's top wide out prospect in 2015 is Anaheim (Calif.) Servite's Equanimeous St. Brown.

- The Irish dropped in on four-star defensive lineman Christian Wilkins of Suffield (Conn.) Academy. Penn State and Stanford are the favorites to land Wilkins, though Notre Dame continues to pursue the 6-foot-4, 290-pound defensive tackle with vigor, and momentum could shift in Notre Dame's favor should Wilkins opt take an official to South Bend this season.

- Top Irish pass-rushing prospect Bo Wallace of River Ridge (La.) John Curtis Christian received a visit from Irish assistant Kerry Cooks. Notre Dame feels confident about its chances to land Wallace, who likely won't take official visits until the conclusion of his senior season.

- Head coach Brian Kelly was present for last Friday's night match-up between two key in-state Irish targets in the 2016 class, four-star wide receiver Austin Mack of Fort Wayne (Ind.) Bishop Luers and four-star defensive end Auston Robertson of Fort Wayne (Ind.) Wayne. Both Mack and Robertson visited Notre Dame for its win over Michigan and are expected to be back for the Stanford game. Mack and Robertson will visit Ohio State this upcoming weekend.

4. A number of notable offers went out to top 2016 targets.

Wide receiver was emphasized considerably.

WR Ahmir Mitchell (Egg Harbor City, N.J., Cedar Creek)
WR Trevon Sidney (La Puente, Calif., Bishop Amat)
WR Binjimen Victor (Coconut Creek, Fla., High)
WR Tavares Chase (Bradenton, Fla., IMG Academy)
DE/OLB Jonathon Cooper (Gahanna, Ohio, Lincoln)
CB Kristian Fulton (Metairie, La., Archbishop Rummel)
OL Paker Boudreaux (Orlando, Fla., Bishop Moore)


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