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Recruiting Battles: Notre Dame vs. Stanford

The rosters may feel familiar on Saturday night. That’s because Notre Dame and Stanford have a recruiting rivalry. Irish Illustrated reviews the battles won and lost.


On Notre Dame’s roster these players had Stanford offers:

Starting defensive tackle Sheldon Day (2012)
Starting offensive guard Steve Elmer (2013)
Starting center Nick Martin (2011)
Starting linebacker James Onwualu (injured) (2013)
Starting offensive tackle Quenton Nelson (2014)
Starting cornerback KeiVarae Russell (injured) (2012)
Starting tight end Durham Smythe (injured) (2013)
Starting kicker Justin Yoon (2015)
Backup running back Josh Adams (2015)
Backup offensive guard Alex Bars (2014)
Backup linebacker Jarrett Grace (2011) 
Backup wide receiver Jalen Guyton (2015)
Backup linebacker Doug Randolph (2013)
Backup wide receiver C.J. Sanders (2015)
Backup wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown (2015)
Backup defensive end Andrew Trumbetti (2014)
Backup quarterback Brandon Wimbush (2015)

Randolph committed to Stanford in June of 2011, but when Notre Dame offered the following March, he decided to visit for Junior Day with his parents. Randolph de-committed from the Cardinal in September, and two days later he committed to Notre Dame. Distance was a factor in the Virginia native’s flip, but so was the appeal of Notre Dame. Former Cardinal recruiting coordinator and current Irish offensive coordinator Mike Sanford recruited Randolph for Stanford.

When Smythe de-committed from Texas in December of 2012, Michigan, Notre Dame and Stanford emerged as his top three. Smythe committed to Notre Dame following his official visit in January. Stanford received an official visit a couple of weeks prior to his trip to Notre Dame. Sanford was the primary Cardinal recruiter.

Stanford and Michigan heavily pursued Elmer after he became Brian Kelly’s first commitment in the Class of 2013. Elmer never wavered in his Irish pledge.

Yoon committed to Notre Dame in June of 2014 over finalists Northwestern and Stanford.

Sanders chose Notre Dame following a visit to campus in May of 2014. He chose the Irish over Duke, Stanford and USC.

St. Brown committed to Notre Dame on signing day of 2015 over finalists Stanford, USC and Utah. Only the Irish and Utes got official visits.

Wimbush was the headliner of James Franklin’s last class when he committed to the Nittany Lions in May of 2014. Wimbush picked up a Stanford offer in June and considered taking a visit to Palo Alto. Notre Dame got back into the quarterback market about that same time after Blake Barnett flipped to Alabama. Notre Dame pursued Travis Waller (Oregon), Jarrett Stidham (Texas Tech, then flipped to Baylor) and Deondre Francois (Florida State) but struck out with all three. In October, Notre Dame got Wimbush to campus for the Stanford game. A couple days later he flipped to the Irish.


On Stanford’s roster these players had Notre Dame offers:

Starting offensive guard Joshua Garnett (2012)
Starting tight end Austin Hooper (2013)
Starting running back Christian McCaffrey (2014)
Starting offensive tackle Kyle Murphy (2012)
Starting defensive end Brennan Scarlett (2011)
Starting defensive tackle Solomon Thomas (2014)
Starting offensive tackle Casey Tucker (2014)
Backup cornerback Terrance Alexander (2014)
Backup offensive guard Brendan Austin (2011)
Backup cornerback Frank Buncom IV (2015)
Backup safety Ben Edwards (2015)
Backup wide receiver Francis Owusu (2013)
Backup safety Justin Reid (2015)
Backup running back Barry Sanders (2012)
Backup running back Cameron Scarlett (2014)
Backup tight end Dalton Schultz (2014)
Backup defensive end Jordan Watkins (2012)

Scarlett chose California over Notre Dame in January of 2011. This year he became Stanford’s first-ever graduate transfer, joining his younger brother Cameron on the Farm. The younger Scarlett took an official visit to Notre Dame for the North Carolina game last year. The Irish made his top four before he committed to Stanford in December.

Garnett chose Stanford over Notre Dame and Michigan in January of 2012. He took an official visit to Notre Dame in December.

"I think it's real intriguing really, looking at Notre Dame's defensive and offensive linemen, because they are so young," Garnett said after visiting Notre Dame. "They play freshmen, so realistically, you would think in a few years you would be competing for national championships."

Notre Dame recruited Stanford’s starting tight end Hooper to play defensive end. He took an unofficial visit to South Bend, but the Irish didn’t crack his top five.

The Irish offered McCaffrey a month prior to his Stanford commitment in the spring of 2013.

"They see me playing as a Theo Riddick type of player, a slot receiver/running back, kind of doing both," McCaffrey said after the Irish offered. "He was an awesome player and that's a huge honor for them to see me playing a position of that caliber.”

From Stanford’s sophomore class, Thomas and Tucker took unofficial visits to Notre Dame, but the Irish didn’t crack either of their top three. Tucker is a former high school teammate of Irish cornerback Cole Luke. Thomas attended the same high school as Cam McDaniel.
The Irish jumped in the mix late for Alexander but received an official visit in January of 2014. Alexander chose Stanford over Notre Dame and Ole Miss on National Signing Day.

A trio of Stanford freshman defensive backs considered Notre Dame. Buncom IV and Edwards took official visits to South Bend for the Stanford and Louisville games, respectively. Reid visited Notre Dame on an official visit in late January.

Schultz took an official visit to Notre Dame last December and held the Irish in his top five. He committed to Stanford in January. 

Running back Remound Wright of Fort Wayne (Ind.) Bishop Dwenger backs up McCaffrey. Wright visited Notre Dame but was never offered. He attended the same high school as Tyler Eifert, John Goodman and Tony Springmann.

Offensive lineman Reilly Gibbons, the older brother of junior Irish commitment Dillan Gibbons, signed with Stanford in 2014. He has since transferred to USF. Gibbons was recruited by Notre Dame but was never offered.


Four-star defensive end Khalid Kareem holds a Stanford offer. The Michigan product said he grew up wanting to play for the Cardinal, but distance stopped Stanford from being a serious contender.

Three-star safety Chacho Ulloa and four-star linebacker Curtis Robinson hold Irish offers. The Cardinal commitments both visited the Irish before deciding to stay in-state. Ulloa visited Notre Dame three times before choosing Stanford last month. Notre Dame held certain defensive backs higher on its board at the time of Ulloa’s commitment.

Robinson visited Notre Dame in March and spent time with Mater Dei alum Joe Schmidt. Robinson committed to Stanford in April following a visit to campus. Notre Dame and USC were finalists.


Four-star California cornerback David Long has been committed to Stanford since August, but he’s exploring other options, including Notre Dame. The Irish received an official visit for the Navy game. Michigan and Washington are also in the mix.

Four-star Texas linebacker Jeffrey McCulloch took an official visit to Stanford last weekend. Notre Dame received an official for the USC game. Both the Cardinal and Irish are high on his list, along with Texas and Texas A&M. McCulloch will announce his decision at the Under Armour All-America Game.

Four-star Georgia wide receiver Demetris Robertson has considered Stanford his leader with Notre Dame, Georgia Tech and Alabama not far behind. Robertson took his official visit to Notre Dame for the Texas game. Notre Dame hopes to get him back on campus for the postseason awards show on Dec. 11. Stanford expects to receive an official visit from Robertson in January.

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