COVETED Notre Dame PLAYERS
Notre Dame’s roster includes eight players that Clemson offered.
* Designates not included in team’s two-deep
- Starting defensive end Romeo Okwara (2012)
- Starting defensive end Isaac Rochell (2013)
- Backup linebacker Te’von Coney (2015)
- Backup wide receiver Jalen Guyton (2015)*
- Backup offensive tackle Mark Harrell (2012)
- Backup defensive tackle Jay Hayes (2014)
- Backup wide receiver Corey Holmes (2014)*
- Backup center Sam Mustipher (2014)
Clemson hosted Okwara and his father in July of 2011. It was an unofficial visit that Okwara said he “loved,” and he cited Howard’s Rock and Death Valley as his favorite aspects. The next visit Okwara took was to Notre Dame, and he committed shortly thereafter. Okwara’s visit to Clemson and his commitment to Notre Dame were less than a week apart.
Rochell named Clemson his leader following a visit to campus in January of 2012. Georgia, Georgia Tech, Oklahoma and Alabama were on his short list at the time. Notre Dame offered in March, and he visited with his parents in April. The Irish immediately took over the top spot. He made a return visit to Notre Dame in June and committed shortly thereafter.
Harrell chose Notre Dame from a top six that included Auburn, Clemson, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. He visited Clemson three times. Clemson assistant Danny Pearman visited Harrell’s school in North Carolina just three days before he committed to Notre Dame in May of 2011.
Guyton’s first offer was actually Clemson. Former Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris, who owns Texas roots and is now at SMU, offered Guyton in January of 2014. Guyton never visited Clemson and committed to Notre Dame in March, two weeks after visiting.
COVETED CLEMSON PLAYERS
On Clemson’s roster, the following players held Notre Dame offers:
- Starting wide receiver Charone Peake (2011)
- Starting linebacker Travis Blanks (2012)
- Starting cornerback Mackensie Alexander (2013)
- Starting safety Jayron Kearse (2013)
- Starting wide receiver Artavis Scott (2014)
- Starting wide receiver Trevion Thompson (2014)
- Backup running back Zac Brooks (2012)
- Backup running back Tyshon Dye (2013)
- Backup linebacker Richard Yeargin (2014)
- Backup offensive tackle Jake Fruhmorgen (2015)
- Backup wide receiver Ray-Ray McCloud (2015)
- Backup defensive tackle Christian Wilkins (2015)
- Backup defensive end Austin Bryant (2015)
- Wide receiver Mike Williams (2013)* – Injured
Notre Dame was in the top five for Kearse after he de-committed from Auburn and Miami. Former Irish assistant Tony Alford headed Kearse’s recruitment for the Irish, and pitched to the athlete he could play receiver or safety at Notre Dame. Kearse never visited. He committed to Clemson in August of 2012.
“I definitely know a bit about them, and I respect what they do as a program,” Kearse said this week. “Now that I get to go up against them, it’s even greater respect seeing what they have done this year. They were in contention all the way until I visited Clemson.”
Alexander named Notre Dame his leader following an unofficial visit to Notre Dame in June of 2012. The former Tennessee commitment cited early playing time and his relationship with former Irish assistants Tony Alford and Kerry Cooks. But Mackenzie’s recruitment was nothing short of a wild one. In a series of twists and turns, he chose Clemson on signing day over Auburn and Mississippi State. Notre Dame never received an official visit.
Clemson flipped a Notre Dame commitment when it landed Yeargin on signing day last year. The linebacker/defensive end from Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) University School committed to Notre Dame over Clemson and Florida in August of 2013. Yeargin took an official visit to Clemson in November. He de-committed from Notre Dame in January.
Bryant, a Georgia product in the 2015 class, visited Notre Dame for the Irish Invasion last year and said campus “blew (his) socks off.” He was one of Notre Dame’s top targets at defensive end that cycle. He committed to Clemson while on campus for the Tigers’ All-In Cookout in July of 2014.
Notre Dame was involved in the recruitments of Florida natives offensive tackle Fruhmorgen and tight end Garrett Williams of the Class of 2015. Fruhmorgen grew up an Irish fan, and he camped with Notre Dame but didn’t receive an offer until mid-October that year, which was not well received. He saw the Irish again that spring but committed to Clemson over Florida and Michigan in April.
Wilkins, who hails from Connecticut, included Notre Dame in his top eight but never visited.
Notre Dame and Clemson are both being considered by five-star defensive tackle Rashan Gary, but Clemson has a better shot of landing him despite the Tigers trailing Michigan and Auburn.
In the 2017 class, Notre Dame and Clemson comprise the top group along with Florida State and Georgia for Norcross, Ga. defensive end Robert Beal, a top priority for the Irish. Beal has family connections in South Bend and visited Notre Dame for Irish Invasion and in April.
Beal will see Notre Dame play this weekend as an unofficial visitor for Clemson.
Of Notre Dame’s committed players in the Class of 2016, offensive lineman Parker Boudreaux, defensive end Julian Okwara and safety Spencer Perry hold Clemson offers. Boudreaux had Clemson in his top three and Okwara had the Irish in his top five. Perry is still considering a visit to Clemson this season. He contemplated an unofficial visit to Clemson on Saturday but won’t be making the trip.
Of Clemson’s committed players in the Class of 2016, running back Taviean Feaster, defensive end Xavier Kelly and wide receiver Tavares Chase hold Notre Dame offers. Feaster was recruited by former Notre Dame assistant Tony Alford and considered a visit to Notre Dame but never made it. Kelly didn’t include Notre Dame in his top eight despite a visit he took to campus in June. Chase was offered by Alford but never considered Notre Dame.
Notre Dame averaged a class rank for 8.2 during the 2011-15 cycles, with Clemson at 16.4. The Irish ranked in the Top 10 four times during that recruiting window while the Tigers didn’t crack the Top 10 once.
In that time span Notre Dame signed 10 five-stars while Clemson signed three. The Irish inked 49 four-stars, and Clemson inked 43.
Of those 10 five-stars that signed with Notre Dame, Sheldon Day, Jaylon Smith, Nyles Morgan and Alize’ Jones are still on the roster. Only one of Clemson’s five-star prospects remains in starting freshman left tackle Mitch Hyatt. Receiver Sammy Watkins and linebacker Stephone Anthony were both first-round picks.