Summer has been a productive season for Notre Dame at safety.
Jalen Elliott and Spencer Perry both committed on either side of the Irish Invasion. Elliott popped before the event kicked off inside Notre Dame Stadium on June 19. Perry waited 10 days before following.
On top of those gets, Ikenna Okeke almost pulled the trigger before deciding to take a look at Stanford. The Irish also made a major move with Devin Studstill, who has Notre Dame in his top three with Miami and West Virginia.
Chacho Ulloa also holds Notre Dame in high regard following another trip to campus.
But here’s another name percolating up the recruiting board: Chanse Sylvie. Defensive backs coach Todd Lyght has been in steady touch with the Shreveport, La., product and is on the verge of scoring an official visit.
Sylvie is targeting the season opener against Texas.
“I’ve talked to coach Lyght often,” Sylvie said. “When I’m up at Notre Dame I want to get to know the players and also the coaches. I want to see the atmosphere, the game day atmosphere. I just want to experience it. The next stage of my life, I want to see how it is up in South Bend and experience the culture.”
Sylvie has already learned some information from running back Tarean Folston, his cousin. And while Sylvie hasn’t released his leaderboard publicly, Notre Dame is a safe bet to make it considering the communication between program and prospect. Arizona, Michigan and Nebraska are also in the running for officials, with Sylvie targeting an October decision with plans to enroll early.
When Everett Golson bolted Notre Dame for Florida State it made freshman quarterback Brandon Wimbush a potential player this year. Brian Kelly wanted to red shirt the four-star athlete from New Jersey and a source told Irish Illustrated that remains the plan, despite the fact Wimbush has already translated some of his high school skills to South Bend.
The reason why Notre Dame can continue with the plan to red-shirt Wimbush hinges on DeShone Kizer, who behind-the-scenes did enough this off-season to win over the coaching staff. A source told Irish Illustrated that Kizer has “picked it up, big-time” in terms of learning the offense. If that carries into the fall, it would make Wimbush the clear No. 3, which means a red-shirt and an extension of his college career.
The word around Malik Zaire continues to center on leadership as Notre Dame’s younger players fall in behind the junior. Zaire was tabbed as a counselor at the Elite 11 this year, another nod to his leadership. And while Golson did the same a few years back, his connection to George Whitfield helped pave that path. A source told Irish Illustrated that, “Malik Zaire is so much better than people understand. Everyone around the team loves him.”
Hiestand Finished For ’16?
With Thursday’s addition of Parker Boudreaux, Notre Dame holds three commitments along with the offensive line in the Class of 2016. Scout100 prospects Liam Eichenberg and Tommy Kraemer project as tackles while Boudreaux is expected to move to guard at the next level.
Notre Dame’s original plan was to take three offensive tackles and potentially a fourth swing tackle/guard should numbers permit. But barring a new prospect hitting the board, offensive line coach Harry Hiestand and the Irish staff are now done at the position this cycle.
Offensive tackle Stewart Reese of Fort Pierce (Fla.) Central was interested – and his versatile skillset fits what Hiestand wants – but without hosting him on an unofficial visit this summer, Notre Dame has fallen off his radar. Florida State and Miami are the front-runners. That probably won’t change.
The trio of Boudreaux, Eichenberg and Kraemer gives Notre Dame yet another top offensive line recruiting haul. And with Scout 300 offensive guard Dillan Gibbons on board for 2017, the foundation is strong for the next cycle.
Irish-Buckeyes Battle For Pryts
Hickory (Pa.) Hermitage hybrid safety/outside linebacker Andrew Pryts has been eyeing a pre-season commitment since his recruitment took off during spring.
He has an official top five of Penn State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Stanford and UCLA. But it appears Notre Dame and Ohio State are likely to be the final two standing. Pryts visited Notre Dame in June after adding an Irish offer in May. He will visit Ohio State one more time before making a final decision, likely before his senior year.
If the Irish edge the Buckeyes for Pryts it would represent a slight upset based on the buzz around the Pennsylvania prospect, who is a Penn State legacy.
Running Back Scratch
Four-star running back Devwah Whaley of Beaumont, Texas recently released the following top five, in alphabetical order: Arkansas, Georgia, Oklahoma, Texas and Texas A&M. Notre Dame offered a scholarship during the spring, days after Whaley came out with his Top 10. He’d talked about how the Irish represented the 11th school on his list, but Notre Dame didn’t have much staying power.
Tight End Turns
Notre Dame will pass on the senior class at tight end, with the focus now on juniors.
Four-star prospect Brock Wright is already on board with a commitment. Fellow four-star prospect and Irish Invasion camper Cole Kmet recently added an offer, which begged a question: Would the Irish pass at tight end now to take a pair next cycle?
Associate head coach Mike Denbrock and tight ends coach Scott Booker have told Kmet as much.
“That’s what they told me,” Kmet said. “They said they don’t plan on taking anyone from 2016 and they don’t plan on offering any other 2017 tight ends. They really want me and Brock together and that’s their goal.”
This comes in the wake of senior target Cary Angeline giving a verbal commitment to USC. Four-star Luke Farrell is technically still on the board, although it appears the Irish won’t make a real push to get him.
Hot Start To ‘17
Notre Dame’s staff took to Twitter in the past month trying to brand its next recruiting class as #IRISHEL17E. Whatever recruiting coordinator Mike Elston wants to call it, Notre Dame has a seemingly strong foundation in place for the next cycle with two commitments and three more bedrock prospects eyeing early commitments.
When Scout released its Top 300 for the Class of 2017 this week it underscored the potential for Notre Dame to get ahead of the game next cycle. While the commitments – Brock Wright and Dillan Gibbons – are traditional early gets, Notre Dame’s potential for a fast start could reach beyond tight end and offensive line.
If Notre Dame takes a recruiting step forward next cycle, these five players figure to be a part of it. Here’s where they slotted into the initial Scout300 for 2017.
Hunter Johnson – No. 3 quarterback/No. 28 overall
Recruiting Note: Notre Dame has been all over Johnson this year, hosting him twice during spring practice and again at the Irish Invasion. Tennessee is the biggest competition, but Notre Dame believes it leads for the in-state product from Brownsburg. Johnson has talked about a pre-season decision before his junior year. The Irish are confident enough in Johnson that they’re not offering other junior quarterbacks and seem willing to pass on the senior class.
Quotable: Johnson is the complete package with size, intellect and leadership. He touts arm strength that’s among the best for quarterbacks his age, and when given time, he can make any throw down the field, though the gunner up the middle to a wide out in stride may his best. He’s confident with the ball in his hands and thrives on the opportunity to make the big throw. There’s room for Johnson to improve his accuracy when he’s forced to scramble in the pocket. – Anna Hickey, Indiana analyst
Brock Wright - No. 1 tight end/No. 62 overall
Recruiting Note: Wright committed a week after the Irish Invasion, where he proved himself to be the best tight end at the event. Alabama, Baylor, Georgia, LSU, Miami, Michigan, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas and Texas A&M were among the other offers, although the Irish beat the Wolverines head-to-head for Wright in the end.
Quotable: I like that Wright is more of a complete package at the position. He has the size to be a great blocker and true in-line style tight end on the next level. The thing that really jumps out on film right away though is his pass catching ability and overall athleticism at the position. He runs well and gets open and after doing so catches the ball smoothly.
He ended up just outside of the Top 10 regionally, but still finished high enough in the Top 100 to be the No. 1 prospect at his position. It looks like Wright has a stranglehold on that No. 1 spot at the position in the 2017 cycle. - Greg Powers, national recruiting analyst
Isaiah Pryor - No. 4 safety/No. 74 overall
Recruiting Note: Pryor was high on Notre Dame exiting his Blue-Gold Game visit, and a decision appeared imminent. Pryor has since pumped the breaks on his commitment timeline, but Notre Dame still owns one of the top spots on list. Georgia and Ohio State will make this one interesting.
Quotable: Pryor is a big defensive back who loves to line up at corner, but his future is either as a big safety or at linebacker. He moves well with his current weight, but he is going to get bigger and stronger in the coming years. He really tracks the ball well, he makes good breaks on the ball, and he definitely can close in a hurry to make a play on the pass or the run. A very well-balanced defender who can play in and out of the box. - Simmons
Robert Beal - No. 10 DE/No. 117 overall
Recruiting Note: Beal has family connections to South Bend and visited twice in the spring. The Irish are one of the early frontrunners, but SEC programs, particularly Georgia, will make landing him a battle. The Irish staff is quietly confident Beal will ultimately commit. Not to read too much into social media, but Beal re-tweeted a tweet of former offensive lineman Trevor Robinson on Thursday about the memorable impact of his Senior Day.
Quotable: There is a lot to like about his upside and potential. With his frame, natural ability, and athleticism, I see a kid who could push for Scout 100 honors months from now. He can improve his anticipation and first step along with his strength to go with his closing speed, quickness, and length. He is a kid who could play weak side end or be that new-age hybrid at outside linebacker on the next level. His strength is going after the quarterback and he has so much upside as he continues to develop on the field and physically.
Beal and Pryor both are very good on the field, are excellent in the classroom, and have their act together off the field as well. These are two of the most well-rounded recruits in the 2017 class - Chad Simmons, national recruiting analyst
Dillan Gibbons - No. 16 OG/No. 295 overall
Recruiting Note: With a reputation for his physical brand of football in the trenches, Gibbons has been a hot commodity on the recruiting scene for quite sometime and recently secured a spot in the Scout300. He chose Notre Dame over early offers from Kentucky, Louisville, Michigan State, Ohio State, South Carolina and West Virginia.
Quotable: The four-star prospect out of St. Petersburg (Fla.) Northside Christian plays with a mean streak and makes sure his presence is known on every snap. Gibbons consistently puts his opponent on their back and wins the leverage battle more often than not. He flashes quick feet and good hand placement when operating in pass protection.
Gibbons is at his best when he's pumping his feet and driving through his opponent in the ground game, but he’s a well-rounded offensive lineman who's solid in all departments. For Notre Dame, Gibbons is a high-character kid and the total package for a student-athlete. - Corey Bender, Florida recruiting analyst