Kaindoh gets first look at Notre Dame
Four-star defensive end Joshua Kaindoh headlines the Blue-Gold Game visitors list and even arrived at Notre Dame in time to watch Friday morning’s practice. He entered the stadium walking alongside early enrollee Spencer Perry, another IMG Academy product.
Maryland and Penn State enter this weekend as favorites, but Notre Dame can make it a trio of programs on top if it hits the right notes during his first visit to campus.
Michigan and Ohio State are also in the mix — and it’s worth noting Kaindoh is a Maryland native that transferred to IMG Academy — but it’s our estimation that Notre Dame can surpass both those suitors with a strong visit this weekend.
Kaindoh, who has hopes of becoming a doctor, moved to IMG from Essex, Md., last year. He wants to return to the North for college.
First-year Maryland head coach and former Michigan defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin, also a former graduate assistant at Notre Dame, has made Kaindoh a priority and is pushing for a summer commitment.
Scout.com Florida analyst Corey Bender believes the rangy defensive end has high upside and the tools to be elite in college and beyond.
“Kaindoh is a good looking athlete who can make his presence known either standing up or with his hand in the dirt,” Bender said. “He’s instinctive and really understands the game of football. He plays the position with impressive finesse and quickness and flashes that quick-twitch when providing a pass rush as well.
“He is extremely lengthy and agile and has the body of a small forward in basketball. Kaindoh has to work on exploding off the ball and strengthening up his frame, but has a very high ceiling and can really change direction with ease. I like his ability to shed blocks and zero in on the ball carrier as well.”
IMG head coach Kevin Wright is a guest speaker for the Notre Dame Coaches Clinic this weekend. Wright and Kaindoh arrived Thursday night.
Notre Dame won't host many prospects in the Class of 2017 beyond Kaindoh, although at least a couple plan to make their way to campus.
Four-star safety Jaylen Kelly-Powell confirmed to Irish Illustrated plans to return for a two-day visit, culminating with the Blue-Gold Game. Kelly-Powell last visited for Junior Day in January. He might be joined by Cass Tech teammate Donovan Peoples-Jones, a four-star receiver. Peoples-Jones also visited for the January Junior Day.
Pride Jr. returns to campus as Irish signee
Four-star cornerback Troy Pride Jr. got his first look at campus back in October when Notre Dame took on USC. He was committed to Virginia Tech at the time.
This weekend he’ll return to South Bend as an Irish signee before he enrolls for good in June.
“I’ve been wanting to get back up there for a long time,” Pride said. “It’s just been a matter of working out the travel with my schedule and finding a good weekend.”
Pride will stay with cornerback Cole Luke during his two-day visit.
“I saw everything I wanted to see last time I was here, so it’s just about settling in and getting a better feel for everything this time,” Pride said. “I want to explore campus and of course see the spring game. I want to see the coaches’ coaching techniques in person and get to know the players better.”
Other signees expected to attend the Blue-Gold Game include quarterback Ian Book, safety Jalen Elliott, linebacker Jamir Jones, offensive tackle Tommy Kraemer, cornerback Julian Love, long snapper John Shannon and cornerback Donte Vaughn.
Stepp leads Class of 2018 visitors
Several prospects in the Class of 2018 will make their way to South Bend for spring game festivities, starting with four-star running back Markese Stepp. The in-state running back picked up an Irish offer in February.
It was an offer that Stepp, who attends Cathedral High School in Indianapolis, called his “dream” offer. Notre Dame and Michigan State currently hold the top spots in his recruitment.
Stepp will make his third visit to Notre Dame on Saturday. He visited twice in the fall.
“I’ve seen the faculties and the stadium, so I’d like to see more of campus,” Stepp said. “I’m hyped to get up there. I’m looking forward to a great atmosphere.”
Stepp also plans to visit Michigan State and Tennessee this month, but could he end his recruitment with a commitment while on campus this weekend?
“I think I’ll wait it out,” Stepp said. “Not quite this early.”
Stepp will travel to South Bend with either his father or grandfather. A day trip is currently the plan, but it could turn into an overnight.
“I hope my dad can come, but he may have to work,” Stepp said. “So I’m bringing my grandfather and my friend as of now. I’m trying to convince my dad to let me stay the night with either Drue (Tranquill) or Keenan (Centlivre). My older brother is their age, so I know them because of him.”
Stepp also holds offers from Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan State, Purdue, Syracuse and Tennessee. His most recent visit was to Ohio State last month. It was his fifth time visiting Columbus.
“It was a really nice visit,” Stepp said. “Coach (Tony) Alford told me he really likes me and I’m one of their top guys. He said they’re going to be slow about offering running backs in my class because they don’t want to be jammed at the position like they are right now, and they’re only taking one running back in this class. He said they’d probably offer in the summer.”
Stepp’s teammate, junior linebacker Pete Werner, committed to Notre Dame last month.
Other notable visitors in the sophomore class include wide receiver Jahan Dotson, cornerback Kalon Gervin, safety Isaiah Humphries, offensive tackle Dawson Jaramillo, tight end Zack Kuntz, offensive tackle Blaine Scott and defensive end Malik Vann.
Gervin, another Cass Tech product, will be making his first trip to campus along with older teammates. He’s hopeful it results in a scholarship offer.
“It (would) be huge,” Gervin said.
B2G returning to South Bend
For the second consecutive year, a large contingent of top California prospects will visit Notre Dame following a 7-on-7 tournament outside Chicago.
The Irish benefitted from B2G’s visit last year by signing both Javon McKinley and D.J. Morgan.
B2G Sports, which includes nearly a dozen top prospects, will compete in the IMG Midwest Regional in Rockford, Ill., on Saturday and Sunday. Then they’ll make their way to South Bend for a visit on Monday.
There's a trip to Michigan scheduled for Friday.
“We are leaving (Thursday) night,” said Marcus Johnson, a sophomore running back from Los Angeles who landed an offer from the Irish this spring. “I’ve talked to coach (Mike) Denbrock a couple times on the phone and the coaching staff had let me know that they’re excited about me coming down so they can talk to me more in person.”
USC, Arizona, Arizona State, Cal and several other programs also have offered and Johnson is open to everyone at this stage of his recruitment.
“I like everybody right now,” Johnson said. “Every school that has offered me, I like the same. I just want to get to know more about the schools that have offered me.”
Johnson hopes to learn more about Notre Dame during the short visit.
“I hope to feel like if I was to go to college there I want to feel like I could call that place home and be comfortable,” he said.
Victory Terry, Johnson’s teammate at Augustus Hawkins High School, also will make the trip. The sophomore linebacker holds an offer from Boston College and hopes the visit to Notre Dame will lead to more interest from the Irish.
“I'm really hoping to see how things work over there,” he said. “I missed the trip last year so this is kind of exciting. I haven't any kind of contact with the coaches at Notre Dame but they have offered some of my teammates so I know my time is coming.”
Washington, Washington State, UCLA, USC and a host of other programs are showing early interest in Terry.
“I'm being patient at the moment,” he said. “I’m just waiting for something new to pop up. I know my time is coming. I’m just being patient and staying humble.”
Five-star wide receiver Joseph Lewis, four-star athlete Greg Johnson (Arizona commitment), five-star receiver Jalen Hall (2018), four-star safety Aashari Crosswell (2018) and quarterback J.T. Daniels(2019) are among the other Notre Dame targets that will make the trip from the West Coast.
Lewis, Hall and Daniels all have Irish offers. Greg Johnson held an offer before giving Arizona a verbal pledge.
New offer recap
One of the standouts at The Opening Regional in New Orleans, it’s been a busy spring with new offers for Delpit. Notre Dame is the latest major program to join the mix. Alabama, Florida, LSU, Baylor, Cal, Houston, Miami, Ole Miss, Oklahoma and TCU are just some others. Delpit is considering a trip to South Bend in light of the new offer.
Hawkins visited campus midweek hoping to add an offer and did. Notre Dame is officially in the mix with another prospect at Cincinnati Moeller, which has been good to the Irish over the years. Current defensive lineman Elijah Taylor played at Moeller, as did former quarterback Andrew Hendrix. Hawkins has the makings of an elite target with offers from Florida and Florida State.
Robinson wasn't exactly familiar with Notre Dame upon landing the offer, but that’s not going to stop Autry Denson from trying to pull the four-star safety from SEC country. It’s going to take quite an effort with regional powerhouses like Alabama, Clemson, Georgia, Ole Miss, South Carolina and Tennessee already very much in the mix.
Notre Dame made an immediate impression on Young after Autry Denson offered. Young is already talking about an Irish Invasion trip with his parents, who put a lot of emphasis on academics. Other contenders include Oregon, where Young plans to visit later this month. Texas A&M, Arizona State, Arkansas and Missouri are some other programs in the mix.