Recruiting Battles: Notre Dame vs. Texas

Notre Dame and Texas will both see prospects who got away on Saturday night. Irish Illustrated breaks down battles won and lost by the Irish and Longhorns.

COVETED Notre Dame PLAYERS

On Notre Dame’s roster, the following players held Texas offers:

* Designates not included in team’s week one two-deep released to media

Smythe committed to Mack Brown but re-opened his recruitment in December of 2012 after his departure from Austin. Irish assistant Scott Booker did an in-home visit with Smythe in January. That secured an official visit that would seal the deal. Michigan and Stanford were also in play. Despite growing up in Belton, Texas, Smythe was a Notre Dame fan as a kid. He once got a ticket to the Notre Dame vs. LSU Sugar Bowl as a Christmas present.

Luke committed to Notre Dame in November of 2012 after four looks at the Irish. He visited South Bend in the summer, saw Notre Dame play in Ireland with his prep team, took an official to Notre Dame in September and took an official to Oklahoma when the Irish upset the Sooners. Luke’s head coach at Hamilton, Steve Belles, was a former Notre Dame quarterback. Bob Elliott and former Notre Dame defensive backs coach Kerry Cooks headed Luke’s recruitment for the Irish.

Watkins, a Dallas product, committed to Notre Dame in November of 2013 following an October official visit. It was his first and only official. When Notre Dame took on Arizona State in Dallas as part of the Shamrock Series, Brian Kelly and former Notre Dame recruiting coordinator Tony Alford watched Watkins in-person on Friday night. Texas was a key contender and led at one point.

Notre Dame offered Blankenship in June of 2013 and he visited less than two weeks later. A commitment came in July. Charlie Strong offered Blankenship a week before National Signing Day, but his commitment never wavered.

Former Notre Dame defensive ends Kolin Hill and Bo Wallace both held Texas offers before signing with the Irish. Hill has since transferred to Texas Tech while Wallace never enrolled, landing at Arizona State.

COVETED TEXAS PLAYERS

On the Texas roster, the following players held Notre Dame offers:

Of note, with the exception of Clarington (Miami, Fla.), all of the above hail from Texas. In battles for players not from the Lone Star State, Notre Dame holds a 2-1 advantage (Luke, Wallace).

Three true freshmen on the Texas two-deep (Jefferson, Newsome and Locke) touted Notre Dame offers.

While five-star Jefferson of Mesquite never seriously considered the Irish, Notre Dame made cuts for both Newsome and Locke.

Notre Dame made the top five for Newsome before the four-star ever visited South Bend. Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas and UCLA also comprised his top group. Newsome held connections to Nicco Fertitta, Tristen Hoge and Jalen Guyton. He was being recruited by the Irish to play slot, the same position held by C.J. Sanders, who had committed in May. Newsome committed to UCLA in January but signed with Texas. 

Locke was offered by Cooks in February of 2014, and at the time only held offers from Illinois, Michigan State, Northwestern and Southern Methodist. Notre Dame made his top 10 that spring but didn’t make the next cut in June.

COMMITTED PLAYERS

Three-star guard Parker Boudreaux held a Texas offer, but the Longhorns didn’t crack his top 10. No. 1 tight end in the Class of 2017 Brock Wright committed to Notre Dame in June. He held a Texas offer but never visited Austin during his recruitment.

Four-star receiver Reggie Hemphill-Mapps of Manvel, Texas held a Notre Dame offer. He committed to Texas in October.  

Texas has eight committed players in the 2016 class; Notre Dame has 14.

ONGOING BATTLES

Notre Dame and Texas overlap for plenty of defensive prospects this cycle.

Four-star cornerback Eric Cuffee of Waco (Texas) has a top eight of Arkansas, Baylor, Michigan, Ole Miss, Notre Dame, TCU, Texas and Texas A&M. Cuffee will take his first official visit to Notre Dame this weekend. He’ll see Texas on an official visit two weeks later when the Longhorns host California. Cuffee has visited Texas six times already on unofficial visits. He attended the Irish Invasion last summer.

Four-star linebackers Jeffrey McCulloch and Dontavious Jackson are premier players in the Houston area and are top prospects for both Notre Dame and Texas. McCulloch is eyeing an official visit to Notre Dame for the USC game, but otherwise has not set any official visits. Jackson has official visits scheduled to Florida State, Michigan and UCLA.

Five-star linebacker Caleb Kelly of Fresno, Calif., has official visits scheduled to Michigan, Notre Dame (Dec. 11), Oklahoma, Oregon and Texas (Nov. 7). The Sooners are the favorites. Texas didn’t offer until July 29.

Four-star defensive end Justin Madubuike of McKinney North, Texas has yet to officially cut his list. Notre Dame and Texas both expect to host Madubuike at some point during the season, but the Aggies may be the team to beat

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