Insider Report: Who’s Next?

Irish Invasion is almost a week away and there’s no shortage of star power expected on campus. The Insider Report takes an early look at the names to know and the storylines to follow in a staff roundtable.

Which prospect is most likely to commit at Irish Invasion?

Jake Brown: I’ll go with Jonathon MacCollister. All the ingredients are in place. He moved Notre Dame up toward the top of the list right after landing an offer. Plus Parker Boudreaux is a former teammate and will have just started his college career at Notre Dame by enrolling a week earlier. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if MacCollister pledged before going back home.

Anna Hickey: Defensive end Jonathon MacCollister. MacCollister is planning a decision at the end of this month and is working with a top three of Notre Dame, Ohio State and Oregon. He has yet to visit Columbus or Eugene and his family prefers Notre Dame. He’s from the same high school as Parker Boudreaux, which should further help Notre Dame’s chances.

Steve Hare: Robert Burns. The three-star running back attended Notre Dame’s junior day and he left very impressed. That eye-opening visit inspired him to return to campus and after working with another Florida prospect in Irish running backs coach Autry Denson things could get very interesting for Burns and the Irish.

Which prospect is most likely to commit in the future?

JB: K'Jakyre Daley seems like a logical choice, albeit an easy one. He’s already planning to make a commitment shortly after the trip and has Notre Dame in the lead. What are the odds he’s not impressed enough with the visit to back off? Louisiana receiver Michael Young is another possibility as he’s had a lot of good things to say heading into the visit.

AH: Running back Markese Stepp. The 2018 in-state running back is planning a fall commitment. Notre Dame, Michigan State and Michigan are his top choices, and the Irish hold the outright lead. He’ll bring his mother with him to campus for the first time next week. Stepp is Notre Dame’s to lose.

SH: Osiris St. Brown. The Irish already have one member of the St. Brown family on its roster in wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown and look to be on the short list for Osiris and younger brother Amon-Ra. Look for the Irish to put on the full court press during St. Brown’s visit next week.

What prospect are you most looking forward to seeing in person?

JB: Let’s hope Baron Browning works out. Everything I’ve seen on video and read has been fantastic. Browning is the type of defensive prospect Notre Dame doesn’t get often enough. I’d love to see what he brings to the table in person.

AH: Safety Amari Carter. The 6-foot-2, 180-pound safety is the 71st-ranked safety in 2017, but his stock has soared over this spring. Clemson, Auburn, LSU, Louisville, Michigan and Notre Dame have all offered since March. And he’s one of Miami’s top in-state targets. Mid-year enrollee Devin Studstill came to Notre Dame as an under-the-radar prospect that’s already competing for substantial playing time this fall. Can his former teammate do the same?

SH: Robert Beal. Notre Dame has struggled to recruit elite defensive linemen, at least in the bunches necessary to keep its defense from playing mediocre football down the stretch. Beal, a one-time commitment, is still considering the Irish and it will be interesting to see if he can reach his potential.

Which underclassman is primed to impress?

JB: There’s plenty of possibilities here but I like quarterback J.T. Daniels. There aren’t many prospects in the country that can say they started at the most important position in football as a freshman at a program like Mater Dei. Daniels not only did it, he thrived. I’ve already seen him in a 7-on-7 setting and came away impressed. I’m expecting Daniels will come out looking like a prospect developed well beyond that of a rising sophomore.

AH: Linebacker Hugh Davis. Linebackers coach and recruiting coordinator Mike Elston is high on Davis’ potential already, and a strong showing at Irish Invasion could position the 6-foot-1, 210-pound linebacker to add a Notre Dame offer down the line. He was one of the top performers at Michigan’s satellite camp in Indianapolis where his physicality shined. Davis attends Indianapolis Cathedral, a school that’s increasingly pumping out top talent. 

SH: Leonard Taylor. Taylor has yet to take a meaningful varsity snap but he landed early offers and committed to Michigan in April. He remains open to the Irish but will have to prove he’s more than just a big kid with some athleticism.

Most important aspect of Irish Invasion?

JB: Banking visits, period. Sure, there will probably be a few commitments almost immediately. There might be a couple new offers. But if there’s anything that’s important for Notre Dame recruiting, it’s accumulating visits. More visits means a better chance to land commitments from prospects outside the Midwest. Impress a Baron Browning or Robert Beal or Hunter Echols enough and you’ll probably get an official visit too. Your chances of landing them go up the more familiar they are with your program. And not just through a slick presentation on an iPad during the winter.

AH: Getting top prospects on campus before the fall. The earlier Notre Dame can get elite players on campus, the better. If Notre Dame can showcase its facilities, staff, campus (during a good weather month is a plus), and overall program before official visits commence, then the chances of getting these top targets to return in the fall (with parents, potentially) increase dramatically. That puts Notre Dame in position to be in contention until the end.

SH: Obviously, the Irish need to continue to attract some of the top national talent if they want their elite camp to be considered to be on the same level as the camps at Florida and Ohio State, among others. They also need the participants to leave with a positive feeling after working with the coaching staff and competing against the other top prospects. It isn’t easy attracting prospects from coast to coast, but the Irish have done a fine job of getting some of their top prospects on campus.

Decision on deck for Daley

Three-star defensive end K’Jakrye Daley will make the trip from Riviera Beach, Fla., to Notre Dame next week with the Irish as his leader and big plans in the near future.

He’s expected to make a decision in the weeks, if not days, after visiting South Bend.

“I’m looking forward to meeting the coaching staff and Brian Kelly and talking to all of the players about why they like Notre Dame,” Daley said. “I’m excited to see what it’s like up there since I’ve never seen it before.”

Announcing his commitment on a radio station in Florida remains a possibility.

“I’m still debating that, to be honest,” Daley said. “I know I’m committing by the end of the month or in the beginning of July.”

Notre Dame offered Daley on May 20. It joined Arizona, California, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisville, Mississippi State, Missouri, Oklahoma, Rutgers, Syracuse, Tennessee and Wisconsin.

Oklahoma appears to be Notre Dame’s biggest threat to land the 6-foot-3, 219-pound prospect.

What will be the ultimate factors in Daley’s fast-approaching commitment decision?

“I don’t know, I haven’t looked at Notre Dame yet,” said Daley, laughing.

Daley hopes to visit Oklahoma before announcing a decision, but nothing has been scheduled. Other schools still in contact include Indiana, Syracuse and Wisconsin.

Competition draws Louisiana WR to Invasion

Three-star wide receiver Michael Young didn't hesitate when the Notre Dame coaching staff first brought up Irish Invasion, even if that meant travelling halfway across the country.

Young started planning the trek from Destrehan, La., to South Bend for his first look at campus shortly after landing an offer. Originally, competition against national prospects was a huge selling point. Now Young will have to settle for it being just a regular visit.

Young is recovering from a broken finger, which means camping won’t be part of his visit.

“It’s a junior day atmosphere,” Young said. “They’ll tell us about the academics and the culture of the school and the program, the culture of their university, period. Like the social life aspect … When they said it was a camp too and competing against some of the top prospects in the country, that kinda put it over the top to me. I’m like, ‘Man, I can really win them over by showcasing my abilities and what I can do.’ That’s why I was really set on going.”

Young holds offers from Arizona, Arizona State, Arkansas, Kansas, Memphis, Minnesota, Missouri, Oregon, Purdue, Texas A&M, UCF, Vanderbilt, Virginia, Virginia Tech and several others.

The past few years Young watched former Irish receiver Will Fuller flourish in Brian Kelly’s offense and wants to carve a similar path.

“My parents and I were like, ‘Oh yeah, we’re there. We’ll be there,’” Young said. “It was right away because it means that much to me. Like I said, just the academics and the athletics. I feel like with the system they have and coach (Mike) Denbrock and those guys, I feel like I can go there and play. My abilities can be displayed like Will Fuller. He’s one of my favorite receivers.”

Notre Dame currently co-leads with Oregon for the 5-foot-11, 178-pound prospect. Young visited Eugene for the spring game.

Irish Invasion could be the final move in his recruitment.

“Honestly I could see myself making a decision after those two,” Young said. “I would definitely take everyone else into consideration but after the visit I’m pretty sure I won’t be disappointed. From everything I hear from the coaches to players, even fans, it’s the place to be. It’s definitely the place to be.

“Even people that haven’t been to Notre Dame, some of my coaches, it’s the place to be. It’s absolutely beautiful, it’s amazing. I could definitely see myself possibly making a decision after those two.”

Four Jacksonville CBs expected on campus this weekend

The Florida-based Pro Impact 7-on-7 team will visit multiple programs in the upcoming days, including Notre Dame, which will host cornerbacks Quran Hafiz, Tyreke Johnson, Ameer Speed and Shaun Wade on Saturday.

Hafiz is looking to add an offer from Notre Dame. Duke and Indiana currently top his list of schools.

Johnson is one of the best all-around athletes in his class. Notre Dame is in the conversation early, and a visit to campus prior to his junior day should build a solid foundation for Notre Dame going forward.

Notre Dame offered late last month. Speed will get his first look at Notre Dame this weekend. From there, he can decipher how heavily the Irish will factor into his recruitment this fall. He’s high on North Carolina.

Wade has been committed to Ohio State since January of 2015, but that hasn’t stopped him from looking around. He plans to take five official visits this fall.

Five-star OG visiting Monday

Five-star offensive guard Wyatt Davis will visit Notre Dame starting Monday. He’ll also see Michigan and Ohio State during his trip to the Midwest, though South Bend will be his first stop.

Alabama is the team to beat and the Tide already have an official visit on the schedule. Notre Dame hopes to do the same after Monday’s visit. Davis is the second-ranked offensive guard in the 2017 class and his former teammates with Notre Dame freshman D.J. Morgan.

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