Insider Report: Recruiting Statement Game

Notre Dame can enhance its playoff resume on Saturday. It can score recruiting points too. The Insider Report tackles that, updates Rashan Gary and Donte Vaughn, plus highlights a unique Notre Dame-Clemson connection.

Julian Love knows his phone won’t sit silent Saturday night when Notre Dame kicks off against Clemson.

There’s no doubt the group text among Irish commitments will be buzzing. But he’ll also be hearing from someone right in the Death Valley environment — five-star Clemson running back commitment Tavien Feaster. There’s zero chance Feaster sits silent. 

“I’m gonna be talking trash the whole game,” Feaster said. “I’ll be there live in action just talking trash. We’ve got another friend, Dez Fitzpatrick. He’s committed to Louisville as a wide receiver. We played Louisville and it was the same thing. I was talking trash to him too.”

Feaster and Love have an unlikely friendship that dates back a couple years to the national 7-on-7 circuit.

Love had been a member of Core 6, a Chicagoland training operation that also fielded 7-on-7 teams for tournaments. Core 6 eventually expanded to different locations then pulled in talented prospects from those areas to form a “United” team that would compete at national events in Las Vegas and Florida, among other locales.

There was an initial connection between the two even as they were first introduced.

“What really drew us together is when we were together in Las Vegas and Chicago we just bonded,” Feaster said. “Real recognized real. He was a real cool guy. It just stuck around, we keep in touch. Hopefully we keep in touch over the years.”

Feaster, a native of Spartanburg, S.C., took the field with Love on that tournament circuit. They played together as recently as this spring, worked out at the same showcases and have stayed in regular contact even with about 725 miles separating hometowns.

“I think it’s cool just to meet somebody from a different area of the country,” Love said. “His accent, being from South Carolina, is funny. We always make fun of it. He’s just a good kid. He doesn’t talk much. He just flies around. He’s super fast.”

Football gave their friendship a foundation. Recruiting added to it too.

Feaster committed to Clemson in February after debating a Notre Dame visit. Around that time he and Love had conversations about offers, opportunities and dream schools. Love had yet to make a decision and didn’t yet hold an offer from Notre Dame, which he coveted.

Notre Dame made its move on Love in March. He didn’t wait to make a decision. Feaster couldn’t have been happier for his friend.

“It’s definitely amazing to see somebody else have success in their life and their dreams can come true in their life,” Feaster said. “It was definitely cool.”

Those commitments fueled this week’s banter. They hope they can continue it on the field at some point during their college careers, although Clemson isn’t scheduled to visit Notre Dame until 2020, which would the fifth-year of eligibility for Love and Feaster.

Until then, they have Saturday night.

“This could be a huge statement to make that the Midwest and those types are schools to fear,” Love said. “It helps that Ohio State and Michigan State are doing well to help that cause. But if we come out at Clemson and get the job done, especially with DeShone Kizer, if he has a great game, then people will be like, ‘Oh, wow. They have a strong chance for the national championship again.’”

Added Feaster: “We’ve just really been talking about the future and what it holds for us. Julian is a pretty cool person. He’s been pretty cool since I met him a couple years ago. We’ve been talking about how the game is gonna go and how everything is gonna play out. I think Clemson will win.”

Vaughn down to two?

Donte Vaughn hasn’t named two finalists, at least not intentionally. But, in a recent interview he might have alluded to two favorites.

After discussing how much his parents enjoyed their visit to South Bend on Sept. 5, Vaughn stated they also visited Tennessee and LSU.

“Everything went good,” Vaughn said. “My mom, she liked it. My dad, he liked it. They liked everything that they had. I liked the school too. They went to Tennessee and LSU a couple of times but they really liked Tennessee too so it’s going to be a battle between those two.”

Vaughn, who plans to announce his college decision on his birthday, Oct. 12, is scheduled to visit Texas A&M this weekend and Tennessee on Oct. 10.

His visit to South Bend in September was his third trip to Notre Dame, which certainly gives the Irish some momentum heading into the decision. But don’t rule out the in-state Volunteers. They’ll get the last crack at impressing Vaughn before he makes his decision.

Tennessee hosts Georgia that weekend.

Michigan commitment has Notre Dame interest

Notre Dame has reached out to Michigan three-star linebacker commitment Dele’ Harding of Elkton (Md.) Eagles Christian Academy, and the interest is mutual.

“The alumni is great, and so is the atmosphere and the coaches,” Harding said. “And of course the academics. You can’t beat the academics.”

Harding visited Notre Dame in the summer of 2014. He committed to Michigan last October.

“I was in the area for something else, so I stopped by and saw the Notre Dame facilities,” Harding said. “It wasn’t a full visit or anything like that.”

Harding contemplated a visit to Notre Dame for the Georgia Tech game. There’s still a chance he  gets on campus this fall.

“No plans as of now, but I can’t say that I wouldn’t consider Notre Dame if they were to offer,” Harding said. “I would talk it over with my family about visiting, like I would with any new offers I get.”

Harding says he still hears from South Carolina and Tennessee.

The 6-foot-1, 235-pound athlete is being recruited by Michigan for the Will linebacker position.

“I’m versatile and can play any position at linebacker the coaches need me to play,” Harding said. “I can play inside or outside, and I’ll get the job done.”

Two down, three to go for Gary

Five-star defensive tackle Rashan Gary, the nation’s top-ranked prospect, took an official visit to Michigan last week and is scheduled to be at Auburn for the Iron Bowl on Nov. 28. Gary plans to schedule three more official visits before making his college choice.

Notre Dame remains in the hunt for one of those tour stops.

“We got three more (to schedule),” said Jennifer Coney, Gary’s mother. “With three more to take we have to be careful, but that doesn't mean if he doesn’t (visit) the other schools are out. That's how crazy this recruitment thing is.”

Irish target will visit Clemson this weekend

Four-star junior defensive end Robert Beal will be in Clemson on Saturday. Beal is primarily considering Clemson, Florida State, Georgia, Notre Dame and Texas.

“Everybody is doing an outstanding job of recruiting him,” said Norcross head coach Keith Maloof. “He has anybody and everybody wanting him right now. He can go anywhere.”

Beal’s grandmother lives in South Bend and the Irish received a visit from Beal and his family last April. He returned for Irish Invasion.

“I know he has family up that way and he’s definitely interested in Notre Dame,” Maloof said. “Georgia is the school nearby, so I know he likes them a lot.”

Beal visited Texas last weekend. He contemplated visiting Georgia this weekend when it hosts Alabama but elected to visit Clemson instead. Top Stories