Notre Dame recruiting will hit another gear this weekend.
About 30 prospects are expected on campus Saturday for the second Junior Day of this cycle. By Irish Illustrated’s count, 23 of those 30 visitors have scholarship offers, an unprecedented mark for a Junior Day in the Brian Kelly era at Notre Dame.
Twenty-five of the expected visitors are juniors, four are sophomores and one is a freshman. The group includes five wide receivers, five offensive linemen, four linebackers, three defensive tackles, three cornerbacks, three quarterbacks, three running backs, three safeties and one defensive end. The guest list spans 17 states.
Four-star safety A.J. Terrell, a Scout300 prospect from Atlanta, is visiting alongside his father for the first time.
“It’s a good place and I need to see what they have to offer,” Terrell said. “I’m looking forward to seeing everything.”
Irish assistant Scott Booker is heading the recruitment of the Westlake High School product. Terrell has also visited Alabama, Auburn and South Carolina this spring. He’s planning a trip to Tennessee in the near future.
“Five schools are recruiting me hardest I would say,” Terrell said. “South Carolina, Auburn, Notre Dame, Florida and Alabama.”
The 6-foot-2, 171-pound defensive back projects at multiple spots in the secondary at the next level.
“South Carolina and Auburn like me at cornerback, but most schools are just recruiting me as a defensive back,” Terrell said.
Commitment Watch: Davis on the verge?
Quarterback recruiting has taken center stage for Notre Dame in the last week.
Four-star Hendon Hooker made the first move by driving from North Carolina for a look at campus Sunday and Monday, bringing both parents. But after the visit ended, whatever momentum the Irish may have had seemed to stall.
Hooker planned to visit Virginia Tech on the way home then mull things over with a decision possible. Early indications didn't point toward the Irish winning out.
Enter fellow four-star prospect Avery Davis, whose Junior Day visit will mark a second trip to campus. Davis will be joined by four-star wide receiver Charleston Rambo, a teammate at Cedar Hill High School in Texas.
“I think this weekend getting to see them practice and being around the staff and everything is huge,” said Joey McGuire, head coach at Cedar Hill. “When he went up there it was a quick trip. He got to meet a lot of the guys and everything but you and I both know the quarterback position is different than any other position. I think you, as a quarterback, have to make that decision sooner than most of the other positions. I’m really anxious. I know he’s excited. I’m anxious to see how this turns out.”
Davis has been open about the Irish holding a lead for his services heading into the trip while other suitors haven’t picked up real traction. Colorado, Houston, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Oregon State, Purdue, Texas Tech, Utah and Virginia are some of the other scholarship offers in play.
Needless to say, there’s plenty of buzz Davis could end up in the recruiting haul either during the visit or shortly thereafter. Davis was the second quarterback offered by Notre Dame this cycle, following in-state standout Hunter Johnson.
Three-star safety Tyrell Ajian, a longtime Irish lean, is expected on campus as well. But don’t expect any movement on a commitment just yet. Ajian still has some things to square away in his recruitment before getting to the point of a commitment.
Notre Dame remains the favorite.
Offer watch: Midwest OL duo intrigues
Some new scholarship offers will no doubt be handed out during the event. Keep an eye on these three: four-star offensive tackle Blaise Andries, three-star offensive tackle Tyler Beach and 2018 cornerback Derrik Allen.
Scout national analyst Allen Trieu considers both Andries and Bleach among the top offensive linemen in the Midwest. Scout analyst Chad Simmons considers Allen one of the top defensive backs in Georgia, regardless of class.
“I had a chance to see Andries at a camp last year and was really impressed, and then his junior season backed up what we had seen. He has a big frame, but he can move and he’s a finisher. He plays the way you’d expect a northern lineman to play.” – Trieu
“Beach is another kid with a tackle body. Technically, I think there are still some things to work on there, but you can’t teach that size and his natural athleticism. We saw him at the Army combine, and that national level of competition was not too big for him. He proved he belonged with the best.” – Trieu
“Allen has already been invited to play in the Army All-American game. He is a versatile defensive back with size and instinct that could project as a big corner or safety on the next level.” – Simmons
Other offer candidates include four-star safety Chaz Ah You, four-star offensive tackle Andrew Thomas and four-star sophomore offensive tackle Jamaree Salyer.
Here’s a look at the rest of the guest list.
One of the bigger names, Adams returns for another look after landing an offer last season. In November, Adams listed the Notre Dame in his top three with Penn State and Pittsburgh. Nothing has changed. The Irish are in good shape but it won’t be easy to pull Adams away from the in-state programs.
Adebo treks to South Bend in search of more detail after connecting with offensive coordinator Mike Sanford during the last couple months. Notre Dame likes the versatile athlete, who’s making the trip with his mother, at defensive back.
No offer yet for Ah You, one of the top safety prospects in the West. But there’s enough interest from both sides for a visit to happen. BYU, Cal, Duke, Michigan, Missouri, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Stanford, UCLA, Utah and Washington are some offers on the table. UCLA has been considered the frontrunner.
Ajian nearly committed to Notre Dame during an unofficial visit in September. Since then he’s been a bit under the radar but the Irish still lead. Still, Ajian isn’t in a position to give a commitment just yet. Ohio State could make things interesting with an offer.
Allen has three on top — Clemson, Georgia and North Carolina. His sister is considering the Georgia for track, which could play a factor in his decision. He’s just a sophomore, so a commitment isn’t expected to come soon.
Few prospects have taken off during the last couple months like Andries, whose offer list is expanding almost daily. Arizona, Duke, Florida, Miami, Oklahoma, Oregon and TCU have given it a national flavor. Notre Dame has been in touch since around signing day and could be next on that list.
Beach has also seen his recruiting stock rise in the last couple months. Michigan and Wisconsin are among the notable offers. Beach could soon add Notre Dame as well. The Irish should become a contender straight away on the strength of Harry Hiestand’s reputation alone.
Black is one of the top prospects scheduled to visit, with offers in from Notre Dame, Alabama, Michigan, Miami, Stanford, UCLA and several others. He is a true student-athlete and likes Notre Dame off the field. This visit could go a long way in keeping the Irish in the hunt.
Blount doesn’t have favorites, but Notre Dame is one of the schools in contact most. Scott Booker visited last October during the Irish bye. Blount is open to leaving home, but he grew up a Georgia fan. His teammate, Mick Assaf, is headed to Notre Dame as a walk-on in the 2016 class.
Burns has been committed to Miami since February of 2015. He’s opened up his recruitment a bit in recent months. Notre Dame has a chance to register a strong impression academically; Burns wants to pursue a major in business.
Perhaps the prospect mostly likely to end up in the commitment column during or shortly after this visit. Davis has been Notre Dame’s top target at quarterback since Hunter Johnson headed elsewhere. This will be his second trip to campus following a game day visit during the season shortly after landing an offer.
It’s hard to see Dillon ending up anywhere else but Notre Dame, where his grandfather Thomas Gatewood was an All-American wide receiver. But the Irish see him on defense and Dillon wants to play running back. This visit could help both parties find common ground. Gatewood is accompanying Dillon on the trip, so that could play a factor.
Garrett represents the type of elite, national defensive lineman Notre Dame often recruits but seldom lands. Ohio State scored a verbal commitment on Feb. 9, but Garrett remains interested in other programs. He’ll find familiarity in South Bend with Bishop Gorman products Nicco Fertitta and Alize Jones.
Graham is considered a “soft” verbal to USC. He added a Notre Dame offer in February and immediately scheduled his first visit to South Bend. Graham wants to attend the same school as fellow “soft” USC pledge, running back Stephen Carr, who also is being recruited by Notre Dame.
Hinish hopes to make his college choice before his senior season, which means Notre Dame needs to make a move now. Hinish visited Penn State last weekend and has a full slate of other trips scheduled this spring. Hinish and David Adams are teammates and best friends. The Irish would love to land both.
Right now only one prospect in the Class of 2019 holds a Notre Dame offer — California quarterback JT Daniels. Johnson is notable in his offer list is already adding Power 5 programs: Cincinnati, Syracuse and Temple are on board. Certainly a name to file away for later in the process.
It’s a return trip for Jones, who last visited for a game during the season. Notre Dame and Michigan State are two offers Jones covets but doesn’t hold just yet. He hopes to have his recruitment finished by the end of summer.
Jurkovec spent the football offseason leading his basketball team deep into the postseason, so he’s getting a late start into spring visits. He attended Pittsburgh’s junior day earlier this month and now he’ll get a second look at Notre Dame. He hopes to spend more time with the coaches than he did during USC weekend last fall.
Lugg is approaching the one-year anniversary of his commitment to Notre Dame so his time spent in South Bend this weekend will be used helping the recruiting cause. Lugg already has talked with several of Notre Dame’s top targets and he expects to be in the ear of a few more on Saturday.
Malone-Hatcher could probably guide tours of the football facilities and campus at this point. Notre Dame gets the local defensive line prospect back on campus again, which is never a bad thing. Michigan and Michigan State still feel like the biggest contenders outside the Irish.
Interest in Paea exploded during spring with offers from Arizona, Miami, Notre Dame, Oregon, USC and many others. Right now it’s looking like a battle between in-state powers Michigan and Michigan State, plus the Irish. All have received a couple visits over the last several weeks.
Phillips was ecstatic to earn an offer last month and is looking forward to his first visit to South Bend. He plans to learn more about how the staff would use him on defense and then compare that to what he hears next week when he visits Oklahoma. Phillips has several SEC offers as well, putting the Irish up against some tough competition to sign him in February.
Rambo teams with Davis at Cedar Hill High School in Texas, one of the most talented programs in the state. Could this turn into a package deal? Nothing is out of the question. This will be a first look at Notre Dame for Rambo and his family.
Riep visited Michigan last weekend and the Wolverines are now a major contender. They have had a lot of success recruiting at Colerain High. Notre Dame needs to make a similar impression during Riep’s first visit if it wants to compete with a long list of suitors, including in-state Ohio State, which doesn’t lose many of the state’s top prospects.
A sophomore with offers already from Alabama, Clemson, Georgia, Florida State and Tennessee, Salyer can play guard or tackle in college. Alabama was his most recent visit.
Singleton is a recruiting veteran having watched his brother, D.J., go through the process before signing with Wisconsin in 2012. Rutgers, whose head coach was at Wisconsin when the elder Singleton signed with the Badgers, is working hard to keep him home. Notre Dame has a lot of ground to make up. That could start this weekend.
Notre Dame has hosted Stritzinger in the past, although interest hasn’t reached the level of making an offer. Michigan headlines the list of suitors along with several MAC programs, Cincinnati and Indiana.
Terrell considers Notre Dame one of the schools recruiting him hardest. He’s visiting with his father this weekend for the first time. Notre Dame is the only non-SEC school high on his list, which gives Notre Dame a unique point of attack in its recruiting pitch.
Thomas joins Blount and Salyer from Pace Academy. Alabama, Clemson, Florida, Georgia and Michigan are among the early offers. Thomas has visited Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee so far this spring. Georgia is the early frontrunner.
Werner will be just two days removed from a visit to Michigan. He picked up a Notre Dame offer last month and has seen his recruitment explode in February and March. Expect the Irish to be a steady fixture in his recruitment. Stanford could be the team to beat should it offer.