Jake Brown / IrishIllustrated.com

Elston stays after Phillips

ADDISON, Ill. - Mike Elston continues to pursue Jacob Phillips even with three linebacker commitments in hand. That says something about Notre Dame’s interest. Phillips has been returning it in kind.

ADDISON, Ill. - Mike Elston doesn’t view the linebacker haul as complete just yet.

Notre Dame already has verbal commitments from a trio of backers — David Adams, Pete Werner and Drew White. That hasn’t kept Elston from keeping up with Jacob Phillips, including a trip to Nashville for a stop at East Magnet School a couple weeks ago.

Phillips talked with Elston afterward. Elston, who serves as area recruiter, told Phillips they’re going to continue their pursuit.

“After I called him,” Phillips said, “and he was telling me how much of a priority I am for them and that even though they already have some commits he really wants me. He really hopes that I’ll consider them heavily.”

Up to this point, Phillips has been doing just that.

Notre Dame is in the mix along with several others. Alabama, Auburn, Kentucky, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas A&M and Vanderbilt are among the scholarship offers available.

Phillips visited South Bend in March for Junior Day, a trip that’s continued to stick out.

“That was a lot of fun,” said Phillips, who nearly visited again around The Opening Regional outside Chicago last weekend. “You really get to experience how different Notre Dame is and you get to see all the different historical things about Notre Dame. It was very enlightening.

“I got to talk to the d-coordinator, head coach and coach Elston. I got to watch them during practice and see how pumped up they are about the season.”

Elston, Brian VanGorder and Brian Kelly talked about things the Irish bring to the table off the field. They’ve also pitched the idea of carving out a position for himself in the defense and talked about Jaylon Smith.

“When I went for the Junior Day they kinda told me that they think that I’m too critical to keep inside the box,” Phillips said. “But I’m very long and lengthy so I could play outside the box. They said the player they could relate that to is Jaylon Smith and they would kinda use me in ways that they used him, like setting me up as my own position. I wouldn’t be playing ‘Mike’ but I would be playing ‘Will’ or ‘Sam.’’

Elston will continue to slug it out with other contenders as Phillips heads toward a summer cut. He hopes to trim the list to about eight this offseason and then again in the fall ahead of official visits.

The programs that will receive those trips are yet to be determined. Phillips has visited Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Ole Miss, Kentucky and Ohio State this spring.

“I’ll probably put out a top list during the summer,” Phillips said. “It probably won’t be any order. Then when the season is drawing close I’ll put out the list of where I’ll take my official visits to.”


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