Steve Hare /

Insider Report: Irish looking coast-to-coast

A couple California defensive backs talk Notre Dame, four-star pass rusher Donovan Jeter reveals what really got the Irish back on his list and a junior linebacker commit reveals his top targets.

California teammates set for official visits

Two top 25 cornerbacks suit up for Rancho Cucamonga (Calif.) High School and both plan to visit Notre Dame this season on officials.

Thomas Graham has already booked a visit for the Michigan State game on Sept. 17. It will be his second time on campus after taking in Junior Day in March. Graham also plans to use officials on Arizona, Arizona State, Nebraska and Oregon.

Graham is targeting a December decision with plans for early enrollment

“I have had a top 10 for a while and I won’t cut my list again,” Graham said. “I’ll just take my official visits this fall and then commit somewhere in December.”

Notre Dame is located furthest from Graham among the schools he plans to visit.

“I like Notre Dame, but they kind of have the distance working against them,” Graham said. “I’m looking at distance, education and where I feel comfortable as the main things in my decision, so you could say they kind of have to beat the distance.”

Teammate Jaylon Redd could join Graham in South Bend next month.

“I’m actually trying to set that up right now,” Redd said. “I am talking to the offensive coordinator about it.

“I want to see if it’s a family-oriented environment and what their plans are for me are as a football player. I’m going to pick their brains a lot. I know a little bit about them from when they’ve played West Coast teams. Thomas went out there and he loved the environment, so I want to check it out for myself.”

Notre Dame wants at least more cornerback this cycle, building on four-star prospect Paulson Adebo.

“Coach (Todd) Lyght says he likes the way I play man-to-man and he would put me on an island at Notre Dame to make big plays,” Redd said.

In addition to Notre Dame, Redd is planning official visits to Nebraska (Sept. 3), UCLA (Sept. (9) and Oregon. A fifth and final visit may not occur because Redd’s decision date is quickly approaching.

“I’m announcing on Sept. 25, which is my birthday,” Redd said.

Unlike his teammate Graham, distance won’t play a role in Redd’s decision.

“No, not at all,” Redd said. “That won’t matter. I just want a place that feels like home and where I will succeed school-wise.”

Irish Illustrated’s take: Graham pretty much summed up his thoughts on Notre Dame: He likes what Notre Dame can offer on the field and off it, but it will take a lot to lure him from the West Coast. Redd, however, is more open to leaving. He added an Irish offer in May and has since expressed heavy interest. A decision date less than two weeks following his visit to South Bend could hurt Notre Dame’s chances, but the Irish will give him something to think about. Oregon is currently the frontrunner.

Irish commit assists in Jeter recruitment

Last month four-star defensive end Donovan Jeter named a top five of Alabama, Ohio State, Penn State, Pittsburgh and Tennessee.

 Then he scheduled an official visit to Notre Dame for its Sept. 17 game against Michigan State.

Credit Irish defensive tackle commitment Kurt Hinish with the assist. The two spent time together at a Pittsburgh area amusement park during a preseason all-star photo shoot and Hinish pushed the Irish into the picture.
“The reason I put Notre Dame back in, I was at Kennywood with Kurt Hinish,” said Jeter, a 6-foot-5, 270-pound prospect from Beaver Falls, Pa. “He kept pounding me about Notre Dame. He was like, ‘When are you coming to Notre Dame?’ or, ‘I know you’re thinking about Notre Dame.’ On the ride home I was sitting there thinking about it. I’m like, ‘I might go to Notre Dame,’ so I put them back in.”
Jeter, who dropped nearly 50 pounds in the off-season, expects to enroll early. That adds some importance to the Notre Dame official visit as the Irish need to make up ground on his top five.
The Irish coaching staff remains in close contact and has Jeter thinking about more than just football.
“I talk to them almost every day,” Jeter said. “They just said, ‘World class education and world class football.’ That’s kind of hard to pass up.”

Oghoufo turns recruiter

Ovie Oghoufo hasn’t even been committed to Notre Dame for a month.

But that hasn’t stopped the four-star junior linebacker from beginning to hit the recruiting trail. There’s been some guidance from the Irish coaching staff and four-star running back Markese Stepp, who’s turned into a ringleader among the current pledges in the Class of 2018.

Mostly, though, Oghoufo has been doing it on his own. And pass rushers top the list.

“I’ve been hitting some guys up — Malik Vann and Xavier Thomas,” Oghoufo said. “I’ve been hitting some dudes up. I just want the best players to come to ND, so I take it on myself. The staff goes for it too. They want the best players too.”

Vann, a Scout300 defensive end from Fairfield, Ohio, has already visited Notre Dame on multiple occasions and called the Irish his leader earlier this summer.

Thomas, a five-star defensive end from Florence, S.C., has already flourished into one of the top prospects overall nationally. Clemson, Ohio State, Alabama, LSU and Florida State are among the offers. Earlier this summer, Thomas attended The Opening.

Scout slotted Thomas at No. 5 overall in its latest rankings for the Class of 2018.

Irish eyeing ’18 lineman

When Notre Dame landed a commitment from junior linebacker Matthew Bauer it added a four-star prospect while also opening the door to one of Western Pennsylvania’s top programs.

 During a visit to Cathedral Prep in Erie, Pa., offensive line coach and area recruiter Harry Hiestand learned about another prospect in the Class of 2018: Fredrick “Juice” Scruggs, a 6-foot-3 ½, 280-pound two-way lineman.

Scruggs already holds 10 scholarship offers and considers Penn State, Michigan State and UCLA among his early leaders. That could change, especially if Notre Dame and Ohio State follow through with offers of their own.
Listed by Scout as a four-star offensive guard, Scruggs plays both sides of the ball and his coach believes he’s an elite tackle prospect. He would probably fit in at Notre Dame as a guard but could also flip over to defense, providing versatility along the line.
Scruggs lives in Ashtabula, Ohio, and travels nearly 50 miles one way to attend Cathedral Prep. He plans to visit Notre Dame this season on a game day. Top Stories