Earlier this week Notre Dame added another critical piece to its recruiting haul in safety Devin Studstill, who gave the Irish their sixth defensive back commitment. The plan is to add at least one more, perhaps as many as three depending on who wants on board. Damar Hamlin, David Long, Brandon Burton and Jordan Fuller are all major targets.
The same goes for one-time Virginia Tech commitment Troy Pride Jr., who has called Notre Dame his leader in the past but is still considering Virginia Tech and others are involved.
Pride’s mother, Angie, talked with Irish Illustrated’s Anna Hickey about the latest in her son’s recruitment, which took a potentially interesting turn on Thursday night when Clemson offered. Despite the in-state pull of the nation’s No. 1 team, the Tigers’ late push likely won’t affect Pride’s final decision, at least for now.
Pride is from Greer, S.C., located about an hour from Clemson and less than two hours from the University of South Carolina.
Q: Last time I spoke with Troy in November, he named Notre Dame his leader. Where is Troy in the recruiting process right now?
Pride: He’s had some new offers and interest come on more recently that we didn’t expect. So we have to figure out if those are worth exploring, but I think we are pretty comfortable with the schools that we have on top right now.
I kind of have my own top five or six, my husband has his, and Troy has his. We have talked about it as we have gone along, but we still need to come together and talk more about it. We haven’t had the chance to really sit down and do that recently. Troy’s playing in the Shrine Bowl this weekend, so hopefully after that we can talk more about things.
UNC has been very consistent with Troy. They have not wavered and have not done anything suspect. So, I really like them. Definitely ND. The culture that we experienced during the official visit was awesome. We learned so much. Our entire family made the trip. Notre Dame carries such a big punch even though it’s a small, private school. It was pleasantly surprising. We get along with the coaches very well at N.C. State. They were involved early in the race but dropped off but came back late. My husband and I have both visited, and the facilities are wonderful there. And Troy’s excited that (South Carolina) has come in late. Coach (Will) Muschamp visited him last week at school. Troy had no clue he was coming and it was a big deal for him. That stuff matters to Troy. With Virginia Tech, I loved everything about Blacksburg. We have visited multiple times. The change in coaching staff happened, but (new head coach Justin) Fuente flew down here personally and visited our family last week, and it was a big deal. My husband and I both liked him. So, those would be my top five. They are pretty similar to my husband’s as well. He may have a school from Georgia in there. I’m not speaking on behalf of Troy though, he hates when I do that (laughing).
Q: How big of a factor is location going to play in Troy’s decision?
Pride: Location is not a big deal for us. I have a sophomore in college and I wanted her to go to school in Charleston, but she chose a school just an hour away. I didn’t want to manipulate her decision at all, but she chose a school that was closer. Troy also has a younger brother that’s 15 and a younger sister that’s 12. He’s one of four. We have raised our children in a way that they can make the best decision for themselves. So, distance is fine. It’s why you have flights and resources in place to visit. I would be excited to see a school that’s not around the corner. I’m from Alabama and my husband is from Georgia. I travel so much and traveling more would just give us more to do on the weekends. Troy might not want us visiting all the time. He’s telling me I’m not allowed to call him every day at the Shrine Bowl this week, but that’s just me being a mom. Location is not an issue at all. My husband and I are very much on the same page with that.
Q: How were the in-home visits with Autry Denson (first week of December) and Todd Lyght (second week of December)?
Pride: Coach Denson makes us feel pretty special. Some schools tell you something and go cold. Notre Dame took longer with their evaluation of Troy, but they have been very consistent. Denson feels like a brother to me. We are just very comfortable around him. He sends me motivational stuff that’s probably different than what he sends Troy and I like all of that. We can laugh and talk about it. During his visit, he was seriously here for three hours. From 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. We were just talking and laughing. He was comfortable around us. We really like his personality. He’s not all business and we can ask him anything. I love his transparency.
With Lyght, there were more questions that I had because I didn’t know much about him until we met him on our official visit. My husband knew more about him from his college and pro days. He was all business and very matter-of-fact during the (in-home) visit. He didn’t really unwind. After he left, I told Troy that I saw a lot of personality similarities between him and Lyght. He gets focused on one thing and gets locked in on it and accomplishing it. I think that would be good for Troy to have his position coach similar to him like that. Lyght was very knowledgeable, answered all of our questions and made himself totally available in that aspect. We really enjoyed his visit. It was about an hour and 15 minutes. My husband had to get up and go to work, so I think that may have cut the visit short. I made them all get up and take pictures.
Q: Troy has taken two official visits (Notre Dame and N.C. State). I know last month Troy was considering making a decision in December. Is that still an option?
Pride: Initially, we weren’t going to make visits in January. But we were totally unaware of this dead period. It’s thrown a monkey wrench in the game and also schools have come on late. He will definitely make a decision before signing day. After this week, we are going to talk to him about if it’s actually that important to him to see more schools. We have seen a lot already and he’s done his homework, so we don’t need to prolong this if he doesn’t think it’s that important. But I don’t want to speak on behalf of him. He may think that it’s important to visit more places. He pays attention to recruiting. As parents, we want to make sure he gets the best of the best wherever he goes. We can evaluate the school and the facilities as parents. For him, I know that his relationship with his position coach, guys on the team and things like that which we can’t relate to are important to him. I really think it will come down to where he’s most comfortable.
Irish Unveil Hayes, Kareem
They’ll both enroll for the second semester next month.
Hayes will spend the week before in San Antonio for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. He won’t participate while continuing to recover from shoulder surgery. Kareem will take part in the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl in suburban Los Angeles before moving to South Bend.
“It’s definitely really hitting me now that my high school career is over,” Kareem said. “I’m about to take my next step into my football career and my academic career. Going to Notre Dame, it’s huge.”
Safety Devin Studstill, wide receiver Kevin Stepherson and safety Spencer Perry are also expected to finish high school at the winter break then enroll at Notre Dame next month.
Notre Dame Chasing Bishop Gorman Star
Notre Dame got back in the game at powerhouse Bishop Gorman this week with an offer to Haskell Garrett, a four-star junior defensive lineman.
Garrett already has a slew of scholarship offers — Louisville, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Penn State, Texas A&M, UCLA, USC, Utah and Washington, among others — but by joining that list the Irish zip toward the top of the list and become an immediate contender.
“I love him as a player, think he'll end up a five-star at some point and is probably the best college prospect on his team that has five guys in our 2017 Scout 300,” said national analyst Greg Biggins. “He’s probably the top DT out West right now as a junior, kid is a stud.
“As for his recruitment, he’s very close with his teammates Tate Martell and Tyjon Lindsey and wants to go where they go. That gives (Texas) A&M an edge since Tate is going there and Tyjon likes them a lot too. Now obviously there is something going at A&M right now, so who knows how that will play out but for now. Garrett really wants to play with his two boys. I think if ND can get him on campus, that will be big and I do think he’s very open to that happening over the summer.”
Defensive backs coach Todd Lyght now recruits Bishop Gorman. He’s a former assistant at the Las Vegas-based program.
But Notre Dame has had success there regardless of area recruiter. Offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley played at Gorman, as did freshman safety Nicco Fertitta and former five-star tight end Alize Jones, also a freshman.
Scout.com rates Garrett No. 18 overall in its current Class of 2017 rankings.
Former LSU Commit Eyes ND
Four-star junior wide receiver Jacoby Stevens committed to LSU back in September. He de-committed several weeks later when rumors indicated Les Miles wouldn’t return to Baton Rouge next season.
Even now with Miles’ job safe, Stevens remains open to other suitors.
“Right now I’m just sitting back and enjoying the process,” said Stevens, a 6-foot-2, 190-pound prospect from Murfreesboro, Tenn.
Stevens landed an offer from Notre Dame during the off-season and hopes to hear more from the Irish in the near future.
“Not really,” he said when asked if the Irish have been in contact since extending the offer. “I would like to though. The latest is when they came to the school earlier in the year.”
South Carolina and USC have shown recent interest and Stevens already holds offers from Georgia, Ole Miss, Ohio State, Tennessee, Alabama, Auburn and Michigan, among others.
Irish Press 5-Star To Visit
Notre Dame’s interest in five-star junior guard Wyatt Davis can’t be understated.
The Irish remain in close contact with Davis, a 6-foot-4, 295-pounder from St. John Bosco High School in Bellflower, Calif. Head coach Brian Kelly reached out to Davis on Twitter.
“He wants me to come up to campus,” Davis said.
That’s a visit Davis hopes to make but he has yet to add it to his schedule. He said he has a huge list of schools he’d like to visit during the off-season with Notre Dame being among the favorites to get him on campus.
Davis is the teammate of Irish commitment D.J. Morgan.