Insider Report: Double duty in Pittsburgh

Notre Dame hits the road for a game in the Steel City and will see one of its top defensive back targets the night before. Insider Report has the details plus recruit reaction to the first playoff ranking and an update on Eric Cuffee and Troy Pride Jr.

Notre Dame’s coaching staff will pull double duty on the road this weekend.
 
Playing at Pittsburgh will be the focus but recruiting will also hit the schedule. Several members of the coaching staff are expected to take in a local playoff game Friday at Central Catholic High School.
 
Central Catholic hosts Upper St. Clair and the game features four-star cornerback Damar Hamlin, one of Notre Dame’s top defensive back targets. Four-star junior linebacker David Adams, who landed an offer earlier this fall, four-star junior offensive tackle C.J. Thorpe also play for Central Catholic.
 
Hamlin and Adams will attend the Notre Dame game Saturday as guests of Pitt. Thorpe hopes to make a positive impression on the Irish.
 
“I really like the school,” he said. “I have seen their games and heard a lot about them.”
 
Another Irish coach will be at North Allegheny High School on Friday to see junior offensive line commitment Josh Lugg in action during his first round playoff game. He will also attend the game Saturday in Pittsburgh.
 
“Coach (Harry) Hiestand told me he can’t make it to my game but he said one of the other coaches will probably be there to see me play,” Lugg said. “It’s very cool. I’m looking forward to both games this weekend.”
 
Four-star junior cornerback Lamont Wade also could be of interest to the Irish staff during their trip to Pittsburgh.
 
Clairton High School is about a 40-minute trip from Pittsburgh and running backs coach Autry Denson has remained in close contact with Wade.
 
“The coach hits me up every day,” Wade said. “He sends a lot of pictures.”
 
The content of those pictures ranges from Irish football quotes, pictures of Notre Dame’s campus and even scriptures.
 
Wade’s interest in Notre Dame could be fading without an offer.
 
“I had a bunch but it seems like they're not really recruiting me,” he said. “I'm starting to see who the real contenders are in my recruitment.”
 
Four-star defensive end Donovan Jeter of Beaver Falls High School also will attend the game on Saturday.

Recruits react to College Football Playoff ranking

Notre Dame turned heads during the first College Football Playoff rankings at No. 5. That impression hit with some top targets and plenty of commitments.

“That’s incredible. I can’t wait until they are finally given the respect they deserve and are in.” - linebacker Jeffrey McCulloch

“They’ve worked hard and earned the ranking.” - wide receiver Javon McKinley

“It’s really awesome. It shows how hard they have worked to put themselves right in the mix.” - defensive lineman Carlo Kemp

“I think it’s great and I’m definitely still looking at them.” - wide receiver Melquise Stovall

“They are? I didn’t even seen the new rankings, that’s crazy, but it’s well-deserved.” - safety Brandon Burton

“They’re good enough to get in that top four!” - cornerback Troy Pride Jr.

“I think it’s awesome and well-deserved!” - quarterback commitment Ian Book

“It’s great, no doubt” - safety commitment Spencer Perry

“Notre Dame deserves to be in the playoffs. They work harder than any team I’ve seen. They will get to the playoffs and prove a lot of people wrong by winning the national championship.” - offensive line commitment Parker Boudreaux

“Very exciting!” - junior tight end commitment Cole Kmet

“It shows they are a really good team that can compete with the top schools.” - junior safety R.J. Potts

“I’m super psyched about it! I really think they will win out and make to the championship game!” - junior offensive line commitment Dillan Gibbons

“I believe that Notre Dame is playing great football and deserve the recognition. I believe that as the season keeps going we’re going to be better and we’re going to hit the top four ratings.” - defensive end commitment Ade Ogundeji

Hayes contenders in Playoff mix

Four-star linebacker Daelin Hayes visits Ohio State this weekend, beginning a busy month of trips before he expects to make a final commitment.

Hayes will also see Michigan State, Oregon and LSU. He visited Notre Dame last month and took note of its No. 5 spot in the initial College Football Playoff rankings. Ohio State checked in at No. 3 while Michigan State came in at No. 7.

“That's dope,” Hayes said. “All of my top three are all in that mix.”

Hayes went on to say his “unofficial” top three is Notre Dame, Ohio State and Michigan State.

Notre Dame appears the strong frontrunner heading into this final round of visits. Hayes expects to make a commitment in early December and enroll at his program of choice for the second semester.

Cuffee looking close at 5

Four-star cornerback Eric Cuffee confirmed this week a current top five that excludes Notre Dame. Cuffee is most closely considering Auburn, Ole Miss, TCU, Texas and Texas A&M.

Notre Dame hosted the Under Armour All-American for an official visit during the Texas game weekend and Irish Invasion camp over the summer. Despite their exclusion from his top five, Cuffee says the Irish aren’t dead yet.

“No, not at all,” Cuffee said when asked if Notre Dame was totally out of the picture.

But the complexion of Cuffee’s top group speaks volumes, particularly since he’s unlikely to visit South Bend again before announcing during the Under Armour All-America Game.

Most believe Cuffee doesn’t leave Texas, his home state.

Pride seeks to clarify picture

Virginia Tech cornerback commitment Troy Pride Jr. told Irish Illustrated this week Notre Dame continues to be a contender in his recruitment despite his pledge to the Hokies.

After Frank Beamer announced his retirement, Virginia Tech athletic director Jim Weaver reached out to Pride directly to touch base. The key here is Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster and defensive backs coach Torrian Gray. If Foster and Gray (in particular the latter) are retained, the Hokies have a much better chance of keeping Pride on board. If not, odds shift toward Notre Dame.

Even if Foster and Gray stick in Blacksburg, Pride could still make the flip. Look for him to attend Beamer’s last home game at Virginia Tech on Nov. 21. The picture could become clearer after that. Pride visited Notre Dame with his family on an official visit for the USC game and gave the weekend experience a rave review.

The staff didn’t pressure him into a commitment and that’s something of which Pride took note.


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