Last month’s Junior Day helped Notre Dame more than double its commitment total in barely 48 hours thanks to five new pledges.
Since linebacker Pete Werner’s commitment on March 21, which capped off the wave of additions, it’s been relatively quiet in South Bend, with the focus shifting back to spring practice and positional battles leading up the Blue-Gold Game next weekend.
That evokes a familiar question: Who will be next to commit? And when?
A quick glance at the growing visitors list for the Blue-Gold Game doesn’t offer a sure thing. But if Notre Dame offers three-star defensive end Noah Curtis a commitment would not surprise.
Curtis has called Notre Dame his “dream offer.”
The next big event on campus is Irish Invasion, slated for mid-June. The first two years of its existence has seen success in setting the tone for summer commitments and putting the Irish in competitive position for some of the nation’s top prospects later in the cycle.
Will Notre Dame gain a commitment before then? Probably. But it’s not yet apparent who it might be.
Nationally, the top quarterbacks usually come off the board by the spring, and historically, Notre Dame arguably attracts tight end talent more so than any other position. So, it makes sense the Irish are done those two positions.
Notre Dame has two offensive linemen committed in Josh Lugg and Dillan Gibbons. Harry Hiestand would like to add three more. If past years are any indication, his preference is to identify his top targets early and wrap them up just as quickly.
Four-star offensive tackle Robert Hainsey added a Notre Dame offer on his visit to campus last month. He toyed with the idea of making a decision in the week that followed, but has since hit pause on pulling the trigger. Notre Dame is among his top schools but Michigan State and Penn State likely hold an edge with more familiarity.
Wide receiver Isaiah Robertson (more on him later) added an offer last week and recently named the Irish to his top six. He’s a smart bet to pull the trigger by June. We like the Irish’s chances here.
The Irish have nine commitments already, and as discussed in the Insider Report last month, that's ahead of pace from previous years in the Brian Kelly era. Notre Dame is tied with Clemson and Kentucky for fourth most commitments in the current recruiting cycle.
In other words, the staff is in no rush to get to 10.
Chicagoland athlete Robertson breaks down top 6
Isaiah Robertson started to narrow his recruiting focus this week.
Six programs — Illinois, Iowa, Notre Dame, Penn State, Vanderbilt and Wisconsin — have distinguished themselves to the four-star athlete from Naperville, Ill., who added a scholarship offer from the Irish last weekend during a spring practice visit.
Robertson talked things over with his family on the heels of that trip. Now he sees all six contenders as serious landing spots.
“We really just talked about what schools were actual, legitimate contenders,” Robertson said. “Which ones can I see myself at? Which ones give me the best opportunities outside of football? Which ones give me the best opportunities inside of football? We talked about the relationships with the coaches that I had and how they deal with me, how I deal with them and if we can really get close. These schools were the ones that had all those things for me.”
Illinois is likely the next program to get Robertson on campus with a visit scheduled for this weekend. Robertson plans to take the ACT on Saturday morning then make the trek to Champaign afterward.
Iowa is scheduled to host on April 23. Robertson has yet to visit Penn State, Vanderbilt or Wisconsin but hopes to in the spring or summer. Then another cut could come.
Ahead of all that, Robertson spoke with Irish Illustrated about each of the remaining six.
They’re the ones that gave me my first opportunity to play at the next level. They’re always gonna be on my list. I’ve talked to the coaching staff a lot and I’ve built a really good relationship with the coaching staff even though some of them have gotten let go. The guys that didn’t, I still know. I have a really good relationship with them. It’s near home. My family can get down there easily. And of course, the hiring of coach Lovie Smith and the new direction they’re going is just really something that you wanna be a part of.
My friend Owen Piche, he’s talked to me about Iowa a lot. He’s told me all the great things about Iowa. I’ve talked to some of the coaches and heard a lot about it. Even Manny Rugamba, he’s talked to me about Iowa and has a lot of good points about how they get their players to the next level and how good of a recruiting class they have coming in this year as well as my year. Also getting to play with Manny would be cool. Iowa is definitely something I wanna check out.
Notre Dame is just the opportunities they bring to the table, they’re endless. The four for 40 program they talk about, being a part of something, is humongous. It’s not just four years but it’s the rest of my life. Being able to go into Notre Dame and possibly play both ways. Being able to play when I get out there and if I show them I can play. My relationship with coach (Mike) Denbrock is strong. I talk to him a lot. Just all the things that come with Notre Dame is amazing. It’s really hard to beat.
I talk to coach (Tim Banks) a lot and coach (Ricky) Rahne. They’ve been recruiting me since my sophomore year. It’s pretty much the same level as Notre Dame with an Ivy League type of education. I talk to Coach B a lot about the opportunities I would have at Penn State and he lets me know what direction they’re going in. It would always be a great opportunity to play there, so I like that.
Again, it’s like an Ivy League education. I’ve talked to coach (Cortez) Hankton a lot, probably since my sophomore season. He really sees a lot. He sees a lot in my wide receiver play. He talks to me and he catches me up about Vanderbilt a lot. It would’ve been cool to play with Sam (Brodner), since he was going down there. He told me a lot about the education and the atmosphere, all the things you can do down there. I really like Vanderbilt.
Wisconsin is really, if I had a ranking, they’re kinda new to the list. There’s a lot I don’t know about Wisconsin. But I’ve talked to Sam Brodner a lot about it and also my dad that went to Wisconsin. They actually moved me from wide receiver to defensive back on the board, so it’ll be really interesting to see what direction they’re trying to go into.
New Offer Roundup
Allen also holds offers from Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee and Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons hold the early edge, which isn’t all bad news for Notre Dame, considering Allen is drawn to the academics in Winston Salem.
Carper, a potential wide receiver or defensive back, also holds offers from Arizona, Baylor, Georgia, Miami, Ole Miss and Tennessee. Georgia leads.
Ewell also holds offers from Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Duke, Florida State, Michigan, Stanford and UCLA, among others. The Tide, Wolverines and Buckeyes comprise his top three.
Tutt also holds offers from Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida State, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Ohio State, UCLA and USC. The 2018 four-star picked up an offer while on campus on Wednesday. Alabama, Florida, Georgia and USC are the early frontrunners, but Notre Dame impressed Tutt enough to position itself as a competitive contender in the future.
Notre Dame moved with an offer to Vincent on Thursday, joining a crowded race for one of the nation's elite cornerbacks. Vincent's father played receiver at Texas A&M, which has offered. Baylor, Florida, Michigan and Texas are among the other offers to the four-star prospect from about 90 minutes east of Houston.
News and notes
- Five-star pass rusher Baron Browning released a top 10 this week. Alabama, LSU, Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, TCU, Texas, UCLA and USC remain standing for the one-time Baylor commitment. Browning recently visited LSU and has expressed interest in seeing Notre Dame.
- Five-star offensive lineman Wyatt Davis made a big cut to his list, trimming to 15 contenders: Alabama, LSU, Michigan, Notre Dame, Cal, Florida, Oklahoma, Oregon, Washington, Stanford, USC, UCLA, Georgia, Nebraska and Arizona State.
- Four-star defensive end Chase Young also cut to 15 down from 42 offers: Notre Dame, Florida State, Michigan, Miami, Tennessee, Michigan State, Florida, Arizona State, Alabama, USC, LSU, Clemson, Maryland, Ohio State and Texas A&M.