Insider Report: Tracking The Big Names

Notre Dame’s coaching staff hit the road this week. The Insider Report reveals how the Irish did with their biggest targets, with the potential for a couple key commitments in the coming days.

HOW MUCH ROOM REMAINS?

With less than two months until National Signing Day, Notre Dame has 18 commitments and sits 13th in the Scout.com recruiting rankings. Of schools ranked in the top 15, only No. 3 Florida (23), No. 6 Michigan (24) and No. 15 UCLA (19) have more commitments than the Irish, which might make moving up a challenge.

Notre Dame could add seven more prospects to get to 25. It’s also possible the final number settles a couple short of that depending on the decisions of top targets in the final stretch. 

Notre Dame wants to add two or three defensive backs (two cornerbacks and one safety), two or three linebackers (one with an inside-outside skill set is preferred), and one or two wide receivers (one outside receiver with versatility and one slot or athlete type). 

THE BIG NAMES

Brian Kelly and staff hit the recruiting trail this week, starting the day after the last-second loss to Stanford that put a bow on the regular season. 

Kelly and offensive coordinator Mike Sanford got things started in the Golden State while other coaches spread out across the country. Stops were made in Florida, Michigan, Texas and other places along the way. 
The Insider Report hits the biggest targets left on the board, starting with five that could announce decisions at any time. 

Damian Alloway - wide receiver 

Brian Kelly and Mike Sanford visited Alloway at his home on Tuesday. It was a first chance for Alloway’s grandparents and mother to meet the Irish coaches. When Alloway took his official visit last month he was joined only by his uncle. About 30 minutes after Kelly departed, UCLA head coach Jim Mora arrived for his in-home visit. Alloway still wants to take an official to the Bruins, either next weekend or into January, with a decision to follow. If Alloway is willing to leave California, Notre Dame will land him. Distance will be a factor in his final destination.

Oluwole Betiku - defensive end

Mike Denbrock visited Betiku at his home on Tuesday. Betiku is considering FSU, Notre Dame, Texas A&M and USC. An early enrollee, the clock is ticking. Texas A&M is the favorite, but USC has gained momentum in the past month. Notre Dame, which received Betiku’s most recent official visit, is the dark horse. 

Daelin Hayes - linebacker 

Keith Gilmore visited Hayes in his home on Monday. After Michigan State and Ohio State threatened to dethrone the Irish as Hayes’ leader in recent weeks, Notre Dame has gained back all momentum. Hayes will announce a decision on Dec. 10. Notre Dame expects to land him. In fact, at this point it would be a shock if this four-star didn’t go Irish.

Troy Pride Jr.. - cornerback

Autry Denson visited Pride Jr. in his home on Wednesday. Pride Jr. de-committed from Virginia Tech last month, but the Hokies retained defensive coordinator Bud Foster and assistant Torrian Gray, a move that could result in Pride Jr. landing back in Blacksburg. But if Notre Dame can overcome the location factor, Pride Jr. will be Irish. 

Devin Studstill - safety

Kelly and Denson visited Studstill in his home on Thursday. It remains to be seen how Miami’s hire of Mark Richt will affect Studstill, who considers Notre Dame his leader. The Irish hope to receive his commitment any day now, though he could choose to visit Miami before making a final decision. West Virginia continues to give chase.

OTHER STOPS TO KNOW

Brandon Burton - safety

Denbrock visited Burton at Serra High School on Tuesday. Notre Dame is still making a push, but Burton is expected to remain on the West Coast.

Eric Cuffee – cornerback

Todd Lyght visited Cuffee in his home on Tuesday. Notre Dame is a long shot in this recruitment that favors local schools. Cuffee will announce a decision at the Under Armour All-America Game.

Avery Davis - 2017 quarterback

Sanford visited Davis at Cedar Hill High School on Thursday. Notre Dame offered last month and immediately emerged as a favorite in his recruitment. Other offers for the four-star include Colorado, Kansas, Oregon State, Texas Tech, SMU, Tulsa and Utah State. 

Ben Davis - linebacker 

Denson visited Davis at Gordo High School on Monday. Davis said he will take an official visit to Notre Dame in January, though the date has yet to be set. Alabama will receive the last visit the weekend before signing day and most expect him to end up with the Tide, where his father is the school’s all-time leading tackler.

Brendan Ferns - linebacker 

Elston was scheduled to visit Ferns in St. Clairsville, Ohio on Tuesday, but instead Ferns wanted to speak with civil engineering faculty at Notre Dame beforehand. That phone call was scheduled to take place this week. Ferns is scheduled to visit Notre Dame next weekend. West Virginia and Penn State have been recruiting him the longest and hardest.

Jordan Fuller - cornerback

Scott Booker visited Fuller in his home on Tuesday. Fuller will take an official visit to Notre Dame next weekend. This will be the first official visit for Fuller, who is also considering Michigan, Penn State, Ohio State and TCU.

Velus Jones - wide receiver

Denson visited Jones in his home on Monday. Jones has been committed to USC since April, but he’s been open about exploring his options. Jones is eyeing a January official visit to Notre Dame. He could be the slot option Notre Dame takes if Alloway waits into January.

Jonathan Jones - linebacker

Elston visited Jones in his home on Thursday. Jones will take official visits to Michigan next weekend and Duke in January. Notre Dame and Michigan are his top choices in a heated battle. The Wolverines might have to reassure Jones of his fit after defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin took the head coaching position at Maryland.

Caleb Kelly - linebacker

Denbrock visited Kelly at Clovis West High School on Monday. Kelly will take an official visit to Notre Dame next weekend. Oklahoma holds the edge, but Notre Dame could pull ahead after the visit. Kelly will announce a decision on National Signing Day.

David Long - cornerback 

Brian VanGorder and Lyght visited Long in his home on Monday. The Cardinal commit is still considering Michigan, Notre Dame, USC and Washington. 

Jeffrey McCulloch - linebacker 

Kelly and Elston visited McCulloch in his home on Wednesday. McCulloch took an official visit to Notre Dame for the USC game, and that’s when the Irish established themselves as a serious contender. Texas A&M will receive an official visit next weekend, and the Aggies are Notre Dame’s biggest competition. McCulloch will announce a decision at the Under Armour All-America Game.

Javon McKinley - wide receiver 

Kelly and Sanford visited McKinley in his home on Tuesday. UCLA will go in-home and receive an official visit next weekend. Notre Dame has made McKinley a priority since the beginning of his recruitment. It now boils down to location. McKinley will announce a decision at the Army Bowl.

Jonah Morris – linebacker/athlete

Elston visited Morris at Archbishop Hoban on Tuesday. Notre Dame expressed interest late in the Michigan State de-commitment who’s also considering Kentucky and Pittsburgh. Notre Dame is recruiting Morris as an athlete. He’ll take an official visit to campus next weekend.

Demetris Robertson - wide receiver/athlete

Booker visited Robertson at Savannah Christian Academy on Thursday. Notre Dame hopes to get him back on campus for the postseason awards show but that’s uncertain. Stanford is the leader with Alabama, Georgia and Notre Dame rounding out his top four. The Irish believe they have a legitimate chance.


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