Insider Report: Josh Kaindoh’s rise

Why does Notre Dame have a real shot at elite rush end Josh Kaindoh? Which new offers are most worth tracking? How good is defensive tackle target Kurt Hinish? The Insider Report tackles those topics, plus looks at Notre Dame’s rise in Tennessee.

Why Notre Dame could get Josh Kaindoh

Kevin Wright sees elite talent every day.

But the first-year head coach at IMG Academy reserves the adjective “special” for Joshua Kaindoh. He’s a consensus Top 100 prospect across the four recruiting services and ranked No. 76 overall on Scout. Two services have Kaindoh in their five-star camps.

“He’s entering year two down here and he’s a special player,” Wright said. “When he got here last summer, he was 6-foot-6, 228 pounds. In Orlando over the weekend, he checked in at 6-foot-6, 258 pounds.

“When you look at him, you don’t think he weighs that much. He’s really embraced the weight room. He’s all lean muscle mass. He can grow to easily carry 280.  He’s a physical specimen not only because of his God-given ability, but also because of his work ethic.”

Kaindoh sits atop Notre Dame’s defensive end recruiting board.

Kaindoh, who came to IMG from Baltimore (Md.) Our Lady of Mount Carmel, hasn’t released a formal list of top schools, but the Irish are considered a contender with potential to go the distance. Others include Alabama, Florida State, Clemson, Georgia, Maryland, Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State.

Notre Dame’s appeal to Kaindoh, who plans to enter studies in the medical field in college, is partly due to their academic prestige and northern location. Those are two unique facets Notre Dame will use to combat heavyweight competition.

“I haven’t had a lot of long conversations with him about recruiting yet, but when I hear Notre Dame, I get it,” Wright said. “I know why he’s interested. The fact is he’s a competitor and he wants to be the best in all facets of what he does. He smiles a lot but doesn’t talk a lot. He’s very focused in the classroom.”

Scout national analyst Brian Dohn describes Kaindoh as a “freakish athlete (that) gets up the field in two steps” and says what stands out the most is “quickness, change of direction and pure speed in covering 10 yards with long strides.”

Wright agrees with that assessment.

“He has outstanding hands and he’s getting better with his technique every day,” Wright said. “He has always had his athleticism, but now he knows other ways to get to the quarterback. He’s 6-foot-6 and capable of playing at a low pad level against the run block.” 

Kaindoh’s development as a blue-chip prospect has been helped by the level of competition he faces across the line of scrimmage at IMG.

“As a player, he’s come a long way,” Wright said. “He came to us from a smaller school in Maryland where he was used to getting by just on his athleticism. Right away, I think coming here was a little bit of a wake-up call for him. People ask me if I’m surprised the way Robert Hainsey has developed at offensive line for us. He was the first offensive lineman to get invited to Oregon (for The Opening). I tell them I’m not surprised at all because he has to go up against Joshua every day practice. And the same thing applies for Joshua, he goes against Robert every day.”

Notre Dame signed two players from IMG in the Class of 2016, running back Tony Jones Jr. and mid-year enrollee safety Spencer Perry.

“Tony is having a great spring so far,” Wright said. “He’s on the honor roll right now with four A’s and one B+ and playing good baseball. I haven’t talked to Spencer, but I’m sure he’s doing fine. An old soul is a good way to describe him.”

Wright will reunite with Perry in less than two months when he travels to South Bend as a guest speaker at Notre Dame’s annual coaching clinic.

Before Wright took the job at IMG in late March, he spent five seasons at Carmel High School, north of Indianapolis. He led Carmel to three state championships and a national No. 8 ranking after the 2011 season.

Kaindoh might make the trip alongside Wright, depending on the schedule. Wright plans to bring some prospects from IMG, either way.

“I haven’t received the exact day of when I’m speaking, but I was blessed to speak there about six years ago,” Wright said. “It’s a great experience and I’m looking forward to getting back up there.”

New offer roundup

Fast-rising cornerback Gates has also reeled in recent offers from Nebraska, Oregon and UCLA. He’s aiming for a visit to South Bend this spring. Notre Dame sees potential on offense, too.

Higgins de-committed from Tennessee earlier this month and subsequently added offers from Florida, Maryland, Michigan and Notre Dame. Clemson is high on his list.

Hinish picked up a Notre Dame offer not long after he set a visit to campus (March 19 Junior Day). He’s teammates with Irish linebacker target David Adams. Boston College, Penn State and Ole Miss have also offered.

This five-star has visited Clemson and North Carolina so far this spring. Hunter has the ability to play safety, wide receiver or even quarterback in college.

The Irish are one of his bigger offers thus far. Penn State, South Carolina and Tennessee highlight other offers on his list. Notre Dame likes Nasirldeen as a safety, though some are recruiting him for wide receiver.

Tuipulotu’s recruitment has taken off during wrestling season — he’s 43-1 and qualified for the state tournament. Oregon, Oregon State, Washington and Washington State are among the Pac 12 programs already on board. Notre Dame continued his eastward expansion. Tuipulotu plans to take official visits with Notre Dame a possible destination.

He’s rated as a defensive tackle, but Notre Dame likes his edge rush ability. He’s visited Clemson, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest this month.

Irish commit scouts new D-tackle target

Four-star offensive tackle commitment Josh Lugg is plenty familiar with new Notre Dame target Kurt Hinish, a three-star defensive tackle.

Hinish, who picked up an Irish offer Thursday, led Pittsburgh Central Catholic into two matchups with Lugg and his North Allegheny squad last season. Needless to say, Hinish left an impression on Lugg.

“I went head-to-head against him a lot both times we played Central,” Lugg said. “He was the best defensive player I went against this year. He’s the most underrated player in the nation. He’s a really, really nice kid too.”

Hinish teams with four-star linebacker David Adams, another Notre Dame target, at Central Catholic. They’ll both visit for Junior Day next month. That’s the same program that produced four-star cornerback Damar Hamlin, who signed with Pittsburgh last cycle.

Local battle shaping up for Paea

Defensive tackle Phil Paea had just one scholarship offer, BYU, earlier this month.

How quickly things change. Paea’s recruitment has surged over the last few weeks with offers from Arizona, Miami, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Notre Dame, Oregon and USC now on the table. But it appears Paea might be looking closest at local options.

Earlier this week the 6-foot-4, 282-pound prospect visited Michigan. He plans to see Michigan State again this weekend with a return to Notre Dame likely coming too.

Paea confirmed it will be just a visit to see the Spartans this weekend. He plans to see Notre Dame again “soon,” although nothing has been scheduled. Berrien Springs is about a half hour from South Bend. Paea made that trip earlier this month then scored an offer the same day.

Whenever Paea returns, it looks like the Irish will be mixing it up with the local Big Ten programs for his commitment.

Gaining ground in the Volunteer State

There were 2,870 names listed on Notre Dame’s all-time roster before last season, meaning players who played in at least one second of a varsity game. Just 19 of them came from Tennessee.
The Irish haven’t had much success recruiting in the state, thanks in part to the University of Tennessee’s success and other SEC programs working the state hard when the Volunteers were down.
But Irish fortunes in the state are trending up, with six signees from Tennessee since 2002. Notre Dame’s best individual haul from Tennessee came in 2007 when wide receiver Golden Tate and safety Harrison Smith signed, with a near miss on linebacker Chris Donald.
Now there are more Tennessee prospects in play earlier in the process. From 2002-10 the Irish offered just seven prospects with no more than three in any given year. They offered three in 2011 and five in 2012 before dropping down to just one in 2013.
Since then, Notre Dame has offered 20 prospects in Tennessee. Offensive tackle Alex Bars, a legacy, signed in 2014. Defensive back Donte’ Vaughn will join this summer after signing this month. The Irish almost took preferred walk-on linebacker Ryan Parker last cycle too, but the Chattanooga product flipped to Army late in the process.

Notre Dame offered seven prospects in the Class of 2016. With the recent offer to four-star wide receiver Tee Higgins, the Irish have already offered six in the Class of 2017.
Four-star athlete Jacoby Stevens, four-star safety Maleik Gray, three-star linebacker Jacob Phillips, four-star running back Ty Chandler and four-star offensive tackle Trey Smith all list offers not even a month after National Signing Day.

News and notes

- Running back target A.J. Dillon, a Notre Dame legacy, picked up a Florida State offer this week. Michigan and Wisconsin are also early contenders. Dillon, a 6-foot, 223-pound athlete from Groton, Mass., is the nephew of former Irish All-American receiver Tom Gatewood.

- Fast rising offensive tackle Tyler Beach hit the Irish radar recently. He scored an invitation to next month’s Junior Day but isn’t yet sure on attending. Recent major offers to the 6-foot-6, 270-pound prospect include Wisconsin, Michigan, Oregon State and Vanderbilt. Beach is a three-star prospect from Port Washington, Wisc.

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