Notre Dame earned plenty of positive reviews without landing a single commitment What does that mean for the future of this Irish class? Probably not much in the short term, although the weekend could prove critical to any National Signing Day success earned by Brian Kelly and his staff.
What will the Irish class look like in February? Irish Illustrated’s staff makes its predictions, with an estimated eight spots available to complement the 16 commitments already on board.
Damar Hamlin: Hamlin has been to Notre Dame three times, a significant visit volume that usually nets a commitment. Most haven’t made that leap with Hamlin but I think the Irish are in better shape than we realize. Late close on an elite defensive back.
Daelin Hayes: Don’t care how many other visits Hayes takes, Notre Dame is the prohibitive favorite and has been for a long time.
Khalid Kareem: Michigan and Michigan State aren’t on the table. Family wants Kareem close to home. In recruiting, sometimes two plus two really does equal four.
Carlo Kemp: It’s probably a coin flip right now with Michigan and it wouldn’t surprise me if it went that way. Notre Dame has tugged at Kemp for a while though, perhaps that wins out in the end.
Jeffrey McCulloch: Why not? It’s my current upset special. McCulloch is a great fit and appears to have just about realized it. It’ll be a tough close, but it can be done.
Javon McKinley: Three visits since spring for a California kid? That’s legit interest, the kind that will end in a commitment sooner or later.
Devin Studstill: People around Studstill think it’s a good idea for him to leave Florida. Notre Dame is probably the best of those out-of-state options, plus has a former teammate on the roster in Te’von Coney.
Note: Went back and forth on three-star safety Ikenna Okeke. He almost committed in the summer and didn’t then came close again during his official visit … but didn’t pull the trigger. Seems like he should’ve jumped on board by now.
Deon McIntosh: After his visit to South Bend the three-star prospect said, “Don’t be surprised if I commit to Notre Dame.” He’s the favorite to be Notre Dame’s next commitment.
Daelin Hayes: What better way to lure away a USC commit than to beat the pants off the Trojans. The Irish made an impression on Hayes and he could be close to joining their recruiting class.
Jeffrey McCulloch: McCulloch called Notre Dame a perfect fit and he’d be a great addition to the Irish defense.
Khalid Kareem: Kareem’s mother joined him on his latest trip to South Bend and she liked what she saw. Quick, put Korey Minor’s mom in touch with her and seal the deal.
David Long: Long knows Notre Dame offers one of the best combinations between academics and athletics and that should be enough to get him to South Bend.
Damar Hamlin: It’s a long shot but the Irish made a move with Hamlin over the weekend. Now comes the hard part. The Irish have to convince Hamlin he’s a better fit in South Bend than in Columbus or Pittsburgh.
Ikenna Okeke: If Long and Hamlin both commit to Notre Dame it’s more than likely Okeke will end up anywhere but South Bend. That changes if one or both decline the Irish’s offer.
Javon McKinley: The Will Fuller show on Saturday had to help Notre Dame’s cause. McKinley’s parents like what Notre Dame has to offer, adding even more reason for him to commit to the Irish.
Aaron Hansford: With Penn State and Ohio State out of the picture, Notre Dame should benefit. Florida, Michigan State, Oregon and UCLA are the competition.
Daelin Hayes: He’s taking visits and nothing is guaranteed in the game of recruiting but ultimately, he’s Notre Dame’s to lose.
Khalid Kareem: If there’s one player still on the board that I would be shocked if he doesn’t end up in this class, it’s Kareem.
Carlo Kemp: A decision between Michigan and Notre Dame is expected soon. Close call, but Irish get the nod.
Deon McIntosh: Notre Dame impressed him a lot in-person. The Irish will likely increase their recruiting efforts here going forward.
Javon McKinley: Notre Dame has recruited him the longest and the hardest. It will pay off.
Ikenna Okeke: At this point it’s hard to imagine Okeke not in this class after seemingly how close he’s come to committing multiple times.
Coaches on the road — bye week roundup
Head coach Brian Kelly and staff hit the road for some recruiting during the bye week. Here’s a roundup of some notable stops.
- Four-star linebacker Daelin Hayes (Brian Kelly)
- Junior tight end commitment Cole Kmet (Scott Booker)
- Receiver commitment Chase Claypool (Mike Denbrock)
- Running back commitment Tony Jones Jr. (Brian Kelly, Autry Denson)
- Safety commitment Spencer Perry (Kelly, Denson)
- Offensive tackle commitment Tommy Kraemer (Harry Hiestand)
- Four-star linebacker Jeffrey McCulloch (Mike Elston)
- Four-star linebacker Dontavious Jackson (Elston)
- Five-star linebacker Caleb Kelly (Denbrock)
- Five-star defensive end Oluwole Betiku (Denbrock)
- Four-star safety Brandon Burton (Denbrock)
- Three-star safety Devin Studstill (Kelly, Denson)
- Four-star wide receiver Javon McKinley (Mike Sanford)
- Four-star junior quarterback Avery Davis (Sanford)
- Three-star safety Ikenna Okeke (Todd Lyght)
- Safety commitment Jalen Elliott (Lyght)
- Defensive end commitment Julian Okwara (Elston)
- Three-star junior receiver Ryan Jones (Elston)
- Three-star running back Deon McIntosh (Kelly, Denson)
- Three-star linebacker Jonathan Jones (Elston)
- Four-star running back Travis Homer (Denson)
- Four-star junior athlete Anthony White Jr. (Denson)
- Four-star junior wide receiver Osiris St. Brown (Sanford)
- Sophomore running back Amon-Ra St. Brown (Sanford)
Sanford visits Alloway
Notre Dame’s top slot wide receiver target Damien Alloway received a visit on Wednesday from Notre Dame offensive coordinator Mike Sanford.
“After the visit he told me how much Notre Dame wants me and he talked about some of other players they are recruiting, too,” Alloway said.
“My parents want me to take all of my visits,” Alloway said. “I told that to coach Sanford this week, and he said he wasn’t going to pressure me into making a decision.”
UCLA and Notre Dame are considered the leaders, but Oregon has potential to enter the race if the Ducks offer.
“If I leave home, I’ve always said it will be to Notre Dame because of what they can offer me there,” Alloway said. ‘That is really the main thing I’m trying to figure out right now is if I want to do that.”
Elston visits top linebacker
Notre Dame linebacker target Jonathan Jones of Orlando (Fla.) Oak Ridge received a visit on Wednesday from Irish recruiting coordinator and linebackers coach Mike Elston.
“He could have come to my game on Thursday,” Jones said. “But my game schedule changed late and didn’t realize that’s how the dates were going to work out. He still made a point to come to my practice even though it was a light practice a day before the game. I appreciate that.”
Jones took his official visit to Notre Dame for the Georgia Tech game. He visits Syracuse in November, Michigan in December and Duke in January. A final decision will likely come down between the Irish and Wolverines.
“I know I’m wanted up there at (Notre Dame),” Jones said. “They are recruiting me hard.”
Okeke with another visit on tap
Defensive backs coach Todd Lyght visited Smyrna High School in Tennessee on Wednesday to check on three-star safety Ikenna Okeke.
“He just watched me practice and talked to my coach,” said Okeke, who officially visited Notre Dame last weekend.
Okeke left South Bend feeling good about the Irish and listed them as the prohibitive favorite to land his signature in February. He held off on committing so he could set up an official visit to Texas A&M. But now it looks like another school could challenge Notre Dame.
Okeke will make an unofficial visit to LSU this weekend. What does that mean for the Irish?
LSU already has commitments from three safeties — Eric Monroe, Cameron Lewis and Clifford Chattman — and the Tigers have offers out to four uncommitted safeties, all in the Scout 300.
It has been reported that Chattman will take other official visits but the New Orleans native called LSU his dream school. Lewis was scheduled to visit Notre Dame in the summer but that trip never materialized. Monroe also has mentioned the possibility he could take a few officials visits.
While all three appear solidly committed to LSU, the Tigers can’t stop recruiting other safeties. That likely puts Okeke in a holding pattern as it relates to LSU.
The latest on McKinley
Corona (Calif.) Centennial four-star wide receiver Javon McKinley visited Notre Dame last weekend with his family. He took in UCLA’s home game against Cal on Thursday night.
Working in UCLA’s favor is location, and that’s a trump card that could come into play. But working in Notre Dame’s favor is just about everything else, including the growing number of wide receivers in UCLA’s 2016 class.
UCLA already has a pair of receiver commits and a pair of athlete commits. The Bruins could still flip USC wide receiver commit Michael Pittman, land Theo Howard and win over Alloway. It’s something the McKinley family is monitoring.