Osiris St. Brown Osiris St. Brown used a family vacation the help sort out his recruitment.
Nothing like a cruise to get the four-star wide receiver from Santa Ana, Calif., in line to make a commitment. St. Brown emerged from that respite energized for the coming season at Mater Dei High School and ready to choose between his finalists.
Either Notre Dame or Stanford will receive a verbal pledge from St. Brown later today. Parsing the difference between those programs proved no simple task.
“It was really difficult, honestly,” St. Brown said. “I’ve probably been thinking about this for more than a couple weeks now. I just feel like, it’s my gut feeling. I’m also looking at education and what I wanna major in — which one has the best for what I wanna major in. Then the feeling with the coaches, players on the team and how I’d fit in with them, stuff like that.”
St. Brown’s interest in both programs date back years.
Notre Dame has his older brother, Equanimeous, on its roster already. He chose the Irish over Stanford and a few other finalists on National Signing Day in 2015. As a result, those coaches have developed longstanding relationship with the family.
Wherever Osiris chooses, they’ll continue to do so. The youngest brother, Amon-ra, is a four-star receiver in the Class of 2018. He has offers from Notre Dame, Stanford and several others.
Osiris spoke on both staffs with Irish Illustrated:
Notre Dame: I like their overall coaching. I love (Mike) Denbrock. At Irish Invasion he sat me down personally and was talking to me in his office. He showed me some of my game clips compared to theirs and stuff like that, so that was cool. Also, talking to coach (Brian) Kelly. He was emphasizing how they’re recruiting me as myself and not as a (younger) brother. I hung out with the players and stuff and that was great. I hung out with Javon McKinley, played against him last year. D.J. Morgan, played against him. I feel like it’s definitely an extended family up there.
Stanford: I love that staff too. I’ve known them all for about as long as the Notre Dame staff. They came in a little later than Notre Dame, obviously. But that’s just how Stanford is. They make sure their offers are really meaningful. They don’t offer everybody. I heard they only gave out like 15 or 19 (official) scholarship offers. That’s how they are. They take their time and make sure they’re making the right choice. I respect that … When I was up there I got to sit down in their meetings with the receivers. They didn’t have that many, honestly. They only had like 10 or something. It’s like a little family they had. It was cool, a good vibe.
Osiris also held scholarship offers from Arizona State, Boise State, Cal, Colorado, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, Miami, Michigan, Michigan State, Missouri, Northwestern, Oregon, Texas Tech, UCLA, USC, Utah, Vanderbilt, Washington and Washington State.
It’s no surprise Notre Dame and Stanford emerged given his familiarity with both. It’s also probably not a shock it was difficult to pick between the two given their familiarity.
Vacation allowed Osiris to evaluate the differences. Later today the public will know the end result.
“I’m making my gut choice,” he said. “I feel like the school I’m picking is the one that’ll help me the best. But it’s definitely a gut feeling.”
Calvin contemplating dates for Irish official
One of Notre Dame’s top receiver targets still on the board is Los Angeles Cathedral’s Jamire Calvin, who will make a return visit to campus this fall.
“I was trying to get back to Notre Dame this month, but it’s not going to work out, so I’m going to take an official visit there,” Calvin said. “I am looking at the Michigan State, Stanford or Miami game.”
Calvin is also planning visits to Alabama, Nebraska and Ole Miss.
Arizona State, Oregon State, UCLA and Washington State are the other programs in his top eight.
The 5-foot-10, 160-pound prospect considers multiple facets of Notre Dame appealing.
“Of course it’s a winning program with good tradition,” Calvin said. “It’s a great school and the coaches did a great job with Will Fuller and some of their other wide receivers. They like me as a hybrid wide receiver and someone that they can move all around the field and contribute on special teams, too. They pretty much want to get the ball to me in space so I can make a play.”
Calvin got his first look at Notre Dame last fall when the Irish hosted Georgia Tech. The Irish offered Calvin this past June.
“I saw pretty much everything last time I was there, so this next visit I just want to get a better feel for the coaches and the game day atmosphere,” Calvin said.
Associate head coach and wide receiver coach Mike Denbrock is heading Calvin’s recruitment.
“He’s super up-front,” Calvin said. “He’s a great coach and has been doing this a lot of years so he knows what he’s doing. He’s cool and genuine.”
Calvin is looking to make another cut from his top eight. The Irish are in good position to make it.
“I’ll probably come out with a top four or five pretty soon,” Calvin said.
Calvin’s teammate, four-star defensive end Hunter Echols, named Notre Dame among his leaders this past month after de-committing from UCLA. The duo could end up visiting Notre Dame together this fall.
“We are trying to take as many visits together as we can,” Calvin said.
A final decision for the West’s No. 7 wide out is expected sometime this fall or winter.
“I think I’ll decide after all my official visits. I want to be comfortable with the coaching staff and the program. I want to be able to really trust the coaches.”
White seeks redemption
Drew White was the leading tackler for St. Thomas Aquinas, one of the powerhouse programs in Florida, entering the regional final of last year’s Class 7A state playoffs.
That’s no small feat. It’s also when the three-star linebacker suffered a Lisfranc injury to his foot that sidelined him for the team’s championship run.
“It was frustrating, especially being in the playoffs and not being able to help out my team,” White said. “I’m really looking forward to being healthy the entire year this year. Last year I think I was a little bit under the radar, so I’m ready to make a statement this year.”
Aquinas went on to win the state championship, the third for the program since 2010. High expectations have become the norm, even with a coaching change.
“We expect to win out and go undefeated and hopefully win the state championship again this year,” White said. “We expect it, the alumni expect it. Everyone.”
In last year’s season opener, Aquinas snapped Miami (Fla.) Booker T. Washington’s 41-game win streak with a 35-3 thrashing. This year, White has a different date circled on his calendar.
"We play at Bishop Gorman in Las Vegas and that’s going to be on ESPN on Sept. 30,” White said. "Last year we came out and showed what we were capable of against Washington and we want to do that again this year against Gorman.”
Bishop Gorman is a year in, year out elite program not just in Nevada but nationally. It's recently produced former Notre Dame offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley, plus current tight end Alizé Jones and safety Nicco Fertitta. Same goes for St. Thomas Aquinas, which turned out former Irish offensive linemen Sam Young and Dan Wenger.
White begins his senior campaign at 6-foot-1, 225-pounds.
“I’ll be playing mostly middle linebacker and weak-side linebacker this year,” White said. “Both are inside linebacker positions and I have experience doing both, so I’ll be prepared and I know what I’m doing. At Notre Dame, coach (Mike) Elston said they see me right now as a weak-side linebacker, but they don’t like to assign recruits a certain position. They would rather get us on campus and develop us from there.”
A couple visits to South Bend this fall are in the works.
“I think I’m going to take my official visit after the season so I can have more time with the coaches and players,” White said. “But I’m planning on taking a couple unofficial visits up there this season. I’m looking at the Michigan State game and the Stanford game.”
White was the last of four commitments in four days for Notre Dame on the heels of its Junior Day back in March. Since pledging to the Irish, White has assumed an active role in recruiting.
“We have a great recruiting class, and so do the guys in 2018,” White said. “We have a big group chat with the 2017s and 2018s. We like to include the younger guys so we can all become really close.”
Notre Dame has suffered just one de-commitment (Robert Beal) in the past two recruiting cycles. White doesn’t anticipate having a role in that number changing.
“I’m 100 percent committed,” he said. “My high school coach pretty much told all the schools recruiting me that I was done with the process when I committed to Notre Dame.”
Irish team up with Bleacher Report
One year after giving Showtime exclusive access to its football program, Notre Dame has teamed with Bleacher Report for another behind-the-scenes run.
"Bleacher Report is an industry leader in developing creative, high-quality content with fans, and we’re looking forward to sharing our unique story through its vibrant platform," said Notre Dame head football coach Brian Kelly. "Notre Dame is an institution with an unrivaled national following, and this is an incredible way to reach them all, including a new wave of young fans."
Irish fans already are familiar with the work of Bleacher Report.
Four-star athlete C.J. Holmes announced his commitment to the Irish in July through a video produced by Bleacher Report.
“We spent some time figuring everything out prior to filming the actual video itself,” Holmes said. “My time spent with them was a pleasure for sure.”
Holmes is excited to see what Bleacher Report has in store for the Irish this fall.
“That’s going to be very exciting,” he said. “Bleacher Report does some great work and all publicity is good publicity. It seems like business is booming in South Bend.”
Freshman offensive lineman Parker Boudreaux went viral last summer when Bleacher Report filmed him pulling a 16,000-pound bus to reveal his commitment to the Irish. That video has been viewed more than 500,000 times.
Junior quarterback Phil Jurkovec, the first member of Notre Dame’s recruiting class of 2018, plans to tune in to learn more about his future coaches and teammates.
“I think it's awesome,” Jurkovec said. “I watched most of the series of, ‘A Season With Notre Dame Football,’ last year. It will be really cool to see what happens outside of what you usually see on TV.”
Junior defensive end commitment Jayson Ademilola can’t wait to tune in.
“I think it's awesome,” he said. “When I watch these videos this upcoming fall I'm going to learn and feel like I'm experiencing the same things as the players and coaches. It’s a great move by ND and Bleacher Report.”
Senior offensive lineman Josh Lugg is excited others around the country will get to see everything Notre Dame has to offer.
“I think the partnership is very cool,” he said. “Bleacher Report does a great job with getting information to sports fans all around the world so this should help show people ND who don't really know all the amazing things about Notre Dame.”
Bleacher Report’s content will include Facebook live streams, Snapchat takeovers as well as short-form social packages and video features.
New offer report
Notre Dame extended a couple new offers in the defensive backfield this week.
Three-star athlete Jaiden Cole, who’s from Monroe, La., added the Irish to his list. Notre Dame likes the 6-foot-1, 195-pound prospect at safety. Cole also has offers from Arkansas, Kansas State, Mississippi State, South Carolina, Texas A&M and Washington, among others.
Three-star cornerback Elijah Hicks also added a Notre Dame offer.
Hicks is from La Mirada, Calif., and attends the same high school that produced Irish tight end Tyler Luatua, along with several other prospects over the last few years. Arizona, Arizona State, Cal, Colorado, Oregon, Oregon State, UCLA and USC are also on the offer list.