Insider Report: On the move

The Irish are trying to hold on with a couple top defensive ends, while the top corner on the board may quietly have Notre Dame in front. Get the latest in this week’s Insider Report.

Notre Dame started the spring evaluation period this week with the assistant coaches fanning out across the country.

Some offers went out as the Irish staff visited the East Coast, the Southeast and the Midwest. Defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder, defensive backs coach Todd Lyght and running backs coach Autry Denson all worked parts of Florida.

VanGorder and Lyght visited four-star defensive end Patrick Bethel, a Miami legacy.

“Notre Dame has great tradition and they always have a great team with good players,” Bethel said. “I have talked with coaches before, and they seem like good guys. They like my pass-rushing skills and get-off on the edge. They’re a team that I will do some more investigating into before I narrow my list at the end of the summer.”

Bethel holds offers from Notre Dame, Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Miami, Michigan and Ohio State, among others.

Several more prospects received visits during the week. Some are highlighted to start this Insider Report.

- Denson visited three-star running back Deon McIntosh at Cardinal Gibbons in Fort Lauderdale. McIntosh told Irish Illustrated that Notre Dame, which sees a slot receiver, is a safe bet to make his top 10.

- Four-star defensive end Josh King received a visit from associate head coach Mike Denbrock. King has made several Midwest visits this spring without stopping in South Bend. Notre Dame was all but out of the picture until this week and is trying to reassure King of the academic support available in South Bend and to get him back to campus for another look.

- Denson visited four-star receiver Tre Nixon on Thursday, with the Florida speedster ranked among the top prospects on the Irish board, regardless of position.

- Four-star running back commitment Tony Jones Jr. received a visit from Denson at IMG Academy.

- VanGorder stopped at St. Thomas Aquinas in Fort Lauderdale for five-star defensive end Nick Bosa and 2017 five-star receiver Trevon Grimes. Both are considered Ohio State leans, Bosa in particular. His older brother, Joey, plays for the Buckeyes.

- Associate head coach Mike Denbrock started the week in the Detroit area alongside defensive line coach Keith Gilmore with stops at King High School and Cass Tech. Among the notable prospects were four-star wide receiver Donnie Corley (King) and 2017 wide receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones (Cass Tech), who added an offer. Alabama and Louisville also offered Peoples-Jones this week.

- Denbrock later moved to Chicagoland to stop in on cornerback commitment Julian Love and four-star safety Kenney Lyke. Notre Dame remains in evaluation mode on Lyke as it tries to gather more footage of his ability in coverage.

- VanGorder and Lyght visited Peachtree Ridge High School in Suwanee, Ga., to check on four-star safety Nigel Warrior, a Tennessee legacy with a Notre Dame offer. Other Peachtree Ridge prospects include four-star cornerback Chad Clay, three-star athlete Malik Staples and 2017 five-star wide receiver DeAngelo Gibbs.

- Mike Elston started the week with some stops in Ft. Wayne, Ind., to visit four-star wide receiver Austin Mack and four-star defensive end Auston Robertson. Mack (Ohio State) and Robertson (Michigan State) are both considered leans elsewhere right now with June 7 decision dates on tap.

- Elston and offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Mike Sanford visited 2017 quarterback Hunter Johnson. Notre Dame and Penn State have emerged near the top of the list.

- Gilmore headed to North Carolina for 2017 running back Christian Beal, who plans to attend Irish Invasion.

Commitment watch for Haskins?

As reported earlier in the week, Maryland and Rutgers lead for top Notre Dame quarterback target Dwayne Haskins Jr., who visited the Scarlet Knights last weekend. There’s been some buzz Haskins could come off the board, perhaps to the benefit of Rutgers, sooner than later.

Either way, Notre Dame still has work to do in convincing Haskins to leave home. Offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Mike Sanford made a stop at Bullis School in Potomac, Md., to check on Haskins earlier this week. The appeal of being a bigger fish in a smaller pond doesn’t sync with Notre Dame’s program and profile.

California prospects impressed

Notre Dame made headway with several top California prospects last week as part of their visit to campus with B2GSports while in the area for a 7-on-7 tournament.

Four-star wide receiver Javon McKinley has the Irish in a top group along with USC, UCLA and Oregon. Three-star safety Chacho Ulloa, a school and 7-on-7 teammate of McKinley, likely has the Irish running at or near the top of his list after scoring an offer during the visit.

Both could come out again in June and are expected to use an official visit for another trip. They also represent some early best bets for Notre Dame to potentially pull out of California.

Hoops: Gibbs visits, new offer round up

Mike Brey will host a big visitor the next couple days as four-star junior guard Temple Gibbs hits campus.

Gibbs, rated No. 57 overall in the latest Scout.com rankings, turned into a high priority target for the Irish late in the season. Last weekend Brey, Martin Ingelsby and Rod Balanis all watched him run with New Jersey-based Playaz Basketball Club at the live EYBL session in Lexington, Ky.

Notre Dame is considered one of the favorites for Gibbs, who flew to South Bend on Thursday night. He’ll stay into Sunday.

Brey and staff returned from the second spring live period with enough information to start sending out new scholarship offers to prospects in the Class of 2016. Here’s a rundown:

- Jarrett Allen - center - Austin, Texas
- James Banks - center - Atlanta, Ga.
- Kevin Huerter - shooting guard - Clifton Park, N.Y.
- Frank Jackson - point guard - Highland, Utah
- Javin Montgomery-DeLaurier - power forward - Charlottesville, Va.

Jackson, a five-star prospect and one-time BYU commitment, has since released a top 10. Notre Dame made the cut along with Arizona, BYU, Duke, Embry-Riddle, Maryland, North Carolina, Stanford, UCLA and Utah. His father played at Embry-Riddle.

News and notes

- Sophomore defensive end Corey Malone-Hatcher received visits from Michigan and Michigan State this week. Notre Dame, Ohio State, Alabama and Penn State are expected. Malone-Hatcher is starting to put together a summer camp schedule, which already includes Irish Invasion.

- Four-star offensive tackle Michael Jordan also has a return trip to Notre Dame penciled in for Irish Invasion, barring a change to the schedule.

- Elston stopped at Ben Davis, Warren Central and Park Tudor in Indianapolis on Thursday. Those schools produced Asmar Bilal (Ben Davis), Mykelti Williams (Warren Central) and Brandon Tiassum (Park Tudor) last cycle. Junior athlete Chris Evans is a target for the next cycle and plays at Ben Davis. He visited during spring practice.

- Four-star cornerback Damar Hamlin got a visit from assistant Scott Booker this week. A source told Irish Illustrated that Notre Dame is running in the cornerback’s top two, likely alongside Penn State.

- The Irish offered tight end Brock Wright at Junior Day in March despite the Class of 2017 athlete being a sophomore. This week Wright set plans for the Irish Invasion, which will follow a trip to Ann Arbor. Wright will travel with both parents after travelling to South Bend last time with only his father.


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