Two weeks after Notre Dame offered, Jordan Pouncey ended his recruitment.
Outside observers might view that as a wildly quick turn of events. Pouncey doesn’t see it that way. He followed his instincts after a series of unofficial visits and that ultimately led him to an Irish pledge last weekend before leaving South Bend.
“I didn’t feel what I felt at Notre Dame at any other place,” Pouncey said. “I got along really well with the staff and the players. I just knew I wanted to join the Fighting Irish tradition.
“The players said nothing but good things about everything and how Brian Kelly and Mike Denbrock dealt with the players. I love coach Denbrock. He’s such a nice guy. I know he’s going to teach and develop me. I’m really looking forward to working with him throughout the process.”
Florida offered Pouncey – his cousins Maurkice and Mike both played for the Gators – a week after Notre Dame made its move, but the Irish were still the team to beat.
“I probably knew three days after I was offered (by Notre Dame),” Pouncey said. “The only reason I didn’t commit right away was because I wanted to give the other places I was scheduled to visit a chance.”
Pouncey might have used the extra time to plan out how he would make a commitment. He committed to Kelly in the gold seats of Notre Dame Stadium last Saturday night, in full view of everyone in attendance at Irish Invasion.
“They call me Hollywood for a reason,” Pouncey said. “I’m all about the dramatic. Doing it right there was the perfect time and place. It was like something out of a movie. It was perfect in every way and something I’ll never forget.
“People kept telling me that I was a Notre Dame type of kid, and now I know why.”
Pouncey will return with his family on an official visit this fall for the Miami game on Oct. 29.
Another big visit weekend on tap
Notre Dame will host a handful of top prospects for the second straight weekend, beginning today.
Commitments Josh Lugg, Dillan Gibbons and Phil Jurkovec are expected on campus as well as top targets Tarik Black and Darnell Ewell.
Jurkovec, a 6-foot-5, 200-pound junior quarterback from Gibsonia, Pa., arrived Wednesday to attend camp. He said he’s excited to spend time with future teammates and to do a little recruiting.
“I look forward to meeting Dillan Gibbons and talking to Josh Lugg again and also Jayson and Justin Ademilola,” Jurkovec said.
The Ademilola twins also will camp in South Bend.
“I’m looking forward to meeting the whole staff and see the campus,” said Jayson, a 6-foot-3, 268-pound junior defensive end from Jersey City, N.J. “Also I’m looking forward to the big man camp and coming away with a ND offer.”
Jayson Ademilola holds offers from Auburn, Clemson, Michigan State and Miami, among others. Justin Ademilola, a 6-foot-2, 225-pound junior linebacker, has several of the same offers as his brother along with Michigan and Georgia.
Lugg, a 6-foot-6, 285-pound tackle from Wexford, Pa., returns to South Bend eager to work with his future offensive line coach Harry Hiestand. He also plans to continue recruiting on the Irish’s behalf.
“I’m looking forward to working out at the lineman camp with Dillan Gibbons,” Lugg said. “Also, I’m very excited to work with coach Hiestand at the camp and see how he will coach me personally. I’m not really sure what recruits are going to be at the lineman camp but I am currently working on Foster Sarell and Robert Hainsey. All of us commits are working hard to get guys that are Notre Dame's top priorities.”
Four-star wide receiver Tarik Black and four-star two-way lineman Darnell Ewell also are expected to be in South Bend this weekend.
Black has a top five of Notre Dame, Alabama, UCLA, Stanford and Michigan. Notre Dame also finds itself in Ewell’s top five with Alabama, Clemson, Michigan and Ohio State.
Junior linebacker Ovie Oghoufo, a 6-foot-3, 195-pounder from Farmington Hills, Mich., and junior guard Wyatt Blake, a 6-foot-4, 300-pounder from Crystal Lake, Ill., also will attend the Irish camp.
Oghoufo holds offers from Iowa State, Michigan State and Syracuse, among others, and Blake landed scholarships from Indiana, Northwestern and Virginia.
“I just want to do the best I can and try to earn an offer from the Irish,” Blake said.
Senior cornerback Allen Stritzinger of Warren, Mich., hopes to impress the Irish on Saturday. He holds offers from Michigan, Cincinnati, Syracuse and a handful of MAC programs.
Colin Wilson plans to delay decision
Notre Dame is in search of its first running back commitment in the Class of 2017.
While four-star C.J. Holmes contemplated committing to Notre Dame last weekend, another four-star prospect has decided to delay his decision coming off an Irish Invasion visit.
Originally planning a commitment for this summer, Scout 300 running back Colin Wilson of Green Cove Springs (Fla.) Clay now plans to decide this fall.
“I probably won’t decide now until after I take a couple of official visits,” Wilson said. “We’re still trying to arrange which schools will (receive official visits), so I don’t know yet.
Irish Invasion was Wilson’s first trip to campus.
“Notre Dame is a nice school with a good campus,” he said.
Louisville, North Carolina and South Carolina are also considered top contenders.
“It’s about even still,” Wilson said.
Irish Illustrated’s take: If Wilson decides to return to Notre Dame in the fall, that gives the Irish as good of a chance as anyone to land him. But if he sticks to his original plan of committing this summer, Louisville figures to be the favorite. The Cardinals have been recruiting him the hardest.
Davis, Kmet forge early connection
Irish Invasion isn’t just an opportunity for prospects to impress the Notre Dame coaching staff.
Some work out for other reasons. Four-star tight end Cole Kmet, who committed to Notre Dame last October, wasn’t sure if he’d participate at Irish Invasion just a week removed from baseball season. Then he received word quarterback commitment Avery Davis would be throwing.
Kmet couldn’t turn down the chance to work with his future quarterback. One route into the passing portion of camp and Kmet couldn’t help but be impressed.
“It was crazy,” Kmet said. “I ran that first hitch route and the ball was right on me. I was like, ‘Whoa, that’s an arm.’ You know what you’ve got with him. He’s a great quarterback and puts it on the money every single time. It’s special. It’s gonna be special.”
Davis took something away from the experience as well.
There’s no shortage of pass catching talent for Davis at Cedar Hill High School — Charleston Rambo (Oklahoma), Jaylon Jackson (Colorado) and Camron Buckley are all four-star receivers. Four-star running back Kaegun Williams is in that mix as well.
But Davis had never thrown to someone like Kmet before Irish Invasion. Kmet provided a big, inviting target down the field.
“Never thrown to a true tight end before that,” Davis said, “so that was really fun.”
Over the course of camp, Davis and Kmet developed an easy rapport that resulted in some long receptions. Kmet views it as a sign of things to come.
“It was fun,” Kmet said. “It was pretty cool to have that connection and start that connection with him. It was pretty sweet. He’s got a hell of an arm. It’s gonna be a fun time when we get up there.
Three remain for Hainsey with decision next
This week three-star offensive tackle Robert Hainsey revealed a top three and decision time frame.
Michigan, Michigan State and Notre Dame remain. Hainsey will announce among the Midwest trio sometime during The Opening Finals, which is scheduled to take place July 8-10 on the Nike campus in Beaverton, Ore.
Hainsey visited again for Irish Invasion alongside his mother, who hadn’t yet seen campus. That trip went “very well,” according to his father. He made a previous trip with Robert in the spring.
Now all that’s left is a final review and announcing the commitment. Michigan State is a longtime contender, as Penn State had been. But the Nittany Lions didn’t make the list of finalists.
Notre Dame could be surging on the strength of Harry Hiestand and the pair of visits.
Hainsey and the family are well aware of Hiestand’s track record in player development and have gravitated toward his coaching philosophy. There’s also a second-hand connection — Hainsey’s father played Division II ball and one of his coaches remains close with Hiestand.
Could that be a sign of things to come? Perhaps.
Irish Illustrated’s take: Hainsey doesn’t reveal much, but it’s safe to say Notre Dame has been building momentum. It’s possible mom gave her stamp of approval after that final visit, although Michigan State bears watching with multiple visits in hand. We’ll all know the answer in a couple weeks.
Five-star Davis to commit today
Five-star offensive guard Wyatt Davis will announce his commitment at 6 p.m. ET tonight after a string of recent visits.
Notre Dame hosted Davis earlier this month, as did Michigan and Ohio State. Alabama and UCLA have been in the mix as well. Looks like it’ll be a regional rival that lands Davis, however, as the trend is Ohio State looks like the pick.
Andrus sets official visit
Four-star defensive tackle Martin Andrus has a Notre Dame official visit date: Oct. 15. That’s the primetime game against Stanford. Andrus talked with defensive line coach Keith Gilmore this week and set the trip.
New Offer Roundup
Banks has apparently held an offer for some time. Harry Hiestand clarified it this week. The hulking offensive lineman is well aware of Hiestand’s track record and recent picks in the NFL Draft.
Bynum has been committed to Washington since April. He comes from a program with which Notre Dame is plenty familiar - St. John Bosco in Southern California. Freshman safety D.J. Morgan played at Bosco, which produces multiple Division I prospects per cycle.
Getting a Notre Dame offered triggered the beginning of plans for a visit. Calvin has been in contact with Mike Denbrock for some time. Notre Dame should become an instant contender here.
Irish Invasion proved a productive endeavor for Jones, a junior receiver from the Chicago suburbs. Offering Jones immediately moves Notre Dame toward the top of the list, if not in the lead. Jones could decide before the season.