The Opening: Names To Know

Dozens of Notre Dame targets will hit The Opening this week. Irish Illustrated will be there too. Here are the players our staff will be scouting.

The recruiting world will relocate to Beaverton, Ore., this week for the Elite 11 and The Opening Finals.

Top prospects from both coasts, Hawaii and Canada will be in attendance starting Monday when the Elite 11 kicks off, with The Opening to follow on Wednesday. Notre Dame will be represented by commitments Parker Boudreaux, Tony Jones and Tommy Kraemer, with dozens of other targets also scheduled to attend.

Irish Illustrated continues its preview of the event with a list of names to know from a Notre Dame perspective. Our staff will be at Nike headquarters all week for a firsthand look at talent that should give the Irish a star-studded foundation for their next class.

Oluwole Betiku - defensive end - Gardena, Calif.

The skinny: Notre Dame could use more elite pass rushing talent and Betiku certainly represents it. He included the Irish on a recent short list with Florida, Florida State, Penn State, Texas A&M and UCLA. Penn State has a connection through mentor LaVar Arrington.

Parker Boudreaux - offensive guard - Orlando, Fla.

The skinny: Boudreaux is the latest commitment, jumping on board with plenty of flair before heading to Oregon. He likely rounds out the offensive line class with Tommy Kraemer and Liam Eichenberg. Boudreaux’s strength will be tested in the trenches.

Brandon Burton - safety - Gardena, Calif.

The skinny: Burton almost put together a summer trip to Notre Dame. Instead, he’s a potential official visitor down the road. Alabama, Arizona, Florida State, Ohio State, Oklahoma and UCLA are other programs on the short list. He plays at Serra, usually a USC pipeline.

Devin Bush Jr. - linebacker - Pembroke Pines, Fla.

The skinny: It’s hard to see where the Irish fit in for this Florida State legacy, but he remains an elite talent worth monitoring. Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Miami and Oregon are among the elite offers on board.

Chase Claypool - wide receiver - Abbotsford, B.C.

The skinny: Claypool visited for the Irish Invasion and has since firmed up plans to make a verbal commitment during The Opening. Michigan and Oregon are the other contenders. Notre Dame is the smart pick entering the event.

Donnie Corley - wide receiver - Detroit, Mich.

The skinny: Notre Dame hoped to host Corley for the Irish Invasion but the four-star receiver went to Tennessee that weekend instead, meaning the Irish still need to get him back on campus. Michigan State looks like the heavy favorite.

Eric Cuffee - cornerback - Waco, Texas

The skinny: Another Irish Invasion visitor, Cuffee hasn’t opened up about the visit since it ended. It’ll be interesting to gauge his interest coming out of the trip against programs closer to home. Does he spend time with Kraemer, Jones and Boudreaux?

Jordan Fuller - cornerback - Old Tappan, N.J.

The skinny: Fuller has known freshman quarterback Brandon Wimbush for years and maintains that connection. He’s listed Notre Dame, Ohio State, Penn State, Rutgers and Michigan as the programs with which he talks the most. He brother plays at UCLA.

Chauncey Gardner - cornerback - Cocoa, Fla.

The skinny: Gardner has talked up the possibility of seeing Notre Dame at some point despite a longstanding Florida commitment. He hails from the same prep program that produced Irish running back Tarean Folston.

Rashan Gary - defensive tackle - Paramus, N.J.

The skinny: Things are trending down with Gary even getting on campus as talk about a summer visit hasn’t materialized. Auburn and Michigan are both heavily involved, among others. Notre Dame is barely in this recruitment.

Damar Hamlin – defensive back - Pittsburgh, Pa.

The skinny: Ohio State seems to be trending up for Hamlin but Notre Dame remains in the mix. Getting the lengthy defensive back on campus this fall would be a step in the right direction in chasing the Buckeyes down.

Daelin Hayes - linebacker - Ann Arbor, Mich.

The skinny: Will Hayes ever stop being a Notre Dame target despite a longtime commitment to USC? Probably not. Hayes admitted in the spring to keeping in contact with the staff and didn’t rule out taking other visits.

Elijah Holyfield - running back - College Park, Ga.

The skinny: Holyfield visited for Junior Day in the spring. Things have since seemed to trail off as Notre Dame considers adding a complement to Tony Jones Jr. at running back. Holyfield probably isn’t that guy, though.

Lamar Jackson - safety - Elk Grove, Calif.

The skinny: Jackson is an elite safety target with the offer list to back it up. USC and UCLA are firmly entrenched. Jackson recently listed Oregon and Michigan as making big pushes as well. He plans to take all five official visits.

Jack Jones - athlete - Long Beach, Calif.

The skinny: Jones hoped to visit with B2GSports last spring. That didn’t happen, so it’ll likely come to down to an official at best. It’s been tough going for Notre Dame at Long Beach Poly in recent years with Iman Marshall and Juju Smith.

Jonathan Jones - linebacker - Orlando, Fla.

The skinny: Jones has Notre Dame in his top five with Michigan (leader), Duke, Oklahoma and Stanford. He plans to officially visit all five. Tony Jones Jr. mentioned this linebacker as one of the priority players he’ll recruit this week.

Tony Jones Jr. - running back - St. Petersburg, Fla.

The skinny: Jones remains solid in his commitment after a couple spring visits. He missed the Irish Invasion while competing in the IMG National 7-on-7 tournament back home. How will his power back skills mesh at an event designed to showcase speed?

Caleb Kelly - linebacker - Fresno, Calif.

The skinny: Kelly would’ve been the headliner at the Irish Invasion if not for being a last-minute scratch. He announced via Twitter late last week plans to visit Notre Dame and Oregon in July, which was the plans immediately after the Invasion cancellation.

Javon McKinley - wide receiver - Corona, Calif.

The skinny: McKinley has now seen Notre Dame twice — first in the spring and then again for the Irish Invasion. Right now it looks like the Irish have the best chance to pull him away from power programs closer to home.

Donovan Peoples-Jones - wide receiver - Detroit, Mich. (2017)

The skinny: Peoples-Jones said good things about Notre Dame and defensive line coach Keith Gilmore, his area recruiter, last month at Sound Mind, Sound Body camp. But he’s yet to visit this offseason and accompanied Corley to Tennessee in June.

C.J. Pollard - safety - Gardena, Calif.

The skinny: Pollard never made it to Notre Dame before a planned announcement at The Opening. But that doesn’t mean the Irish can’t get him on a campus later. USC is seen as the frontrunner with Oregon also involved. He’s another from the Serra pipeline.

Trevon Sidney - wide receiver - La Puente, Calif.

The skinny: Sidney has been somewhat off the radar over the summer but he’s still listing Notre Dame and Washington as official visit destinations. He teams with top receiver target Tyler Vaughns at Bishop Amat.

Tyler Vaughns - wide receiver - La Puente, Calif.

The skinny: Notre Dame would love to land an official visit from Vaughns down the road. USC is heavily involved — he visited for its elite camp earlier this summer — along with Alabama and Georgia making a move.

JoeJuan Williams - safety - Nashville, Tenn.

The skinny: Williams visited Notre Dame for Irish Invasion and has been mum on the trip since, although early returns seem like a mixed bag. Even a couple recent commitments at safety wouldn’t keep Notre Dame from wanting to snag SEC talent.


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