Chad Simmons

Notre Dame’s 10 best bets

Irish Illustrated reveals 10 prospects we think are most likely to commit to Notre Dame.

Notre Dame sits sixth in the Scout Team Recruiting Rankings behind Ohio State, Alabama, Oklahoma, LSU and Georgia. The Irish are tied for seventh with Stanford in average star ranking per commit (3.71), which trails Ohio State, Georgia, Clemson, Alabama, Florida State and Oklahoma.

The Irish have 17 commitments (12 four-stars and five three-stars).

Here’s how we see an ideal class breaking down by position on National Signing Day next February, even with numbers seemingly tight.

Quarterback - 1 (Done)
Running Back – 1/2 (1 committed)
Wide Receiver – 3/4 (2 committed)
Tight End - 2 (Done)
Offensive Line – 4/5 (3 committed)
Defensive Line – 4/5 (3 committed)
Linebacker - 3/4 (3 committed)
Defensive Back – 3/4 (2 committed)

In alphabetical order, our 10 prospects Notre Dame is most likely to land:

Ahmed will take an official visit to Notre Dame this weekend and will announce a commitment on Sept. 23. Washington is perceived as the favorite, but Notre Dame has the foundation to pull off the upset.   
Recruiter: Lyght
Visit: Sept. 17 (official visit)

Alston will get his first look at campus when he takes an official visit for the Miami game in late October. Cal figures to be Notre Dame’s biggest competition, but Alston has yet to visit the Bears and has no visit currently planned there. Alston is low-key about his recruitment and would fit well at Notre Dame. The Irish could jump into the driver’s seat following his official.
Recruiter: VanGorder
Visit: Oct. 29 (official visit)

We would be surprised if it’s not Michigan or Notre Dame in the end. Michigan has hosted him on back-to-back visits in less than a month, and the Wolverines have the momentum. Still, we keep hearing Black’s parents would prefer Notre Dame. Should he set an official visit to Notre Dame for later in the fall, the Irish could retake the lead.
Recruiter: Booker
Visits: Junior Day (March 19), June 23-24

Fresh off a recent official visit to Nebraska, the Cornhuskers are Notre Dame’s biggest competition. Calvin has been as high on the Irish as any uncommitted prospect on Notre Dame’s board, but a visit needs to take place before both parties can move forward. Expect him to get on campus before he makes a decision in January.
Recruiter: Denbrock
Visit: None

Notre Dame and Miami are battling it out for this Palm Beach Gardens (Fla.) prospect that is one of the top safety targets on the board. The Hurricanes have gained some recruiting momentum on the trail recently, so it remains to be seen if the Irish can pull Carter out of Miami’s backyard. Notre Dame feels good about its chances. Considering former prep teammates Devin Studstill and Te’von Coney are already starting here, the Irish have the playing time pitch set.
Recruiter: Denson
Visit: Irish Invasion, Sept. 24 (official visit)

Cole appears to be favoring Arkansas and Notre Dame. He’ll get his first look at Notre Dame this weekend on an official visit. Ranked by Scout as an athlete, Notre Dame is recruiting him for safety. Cole told Irish Illustrated he plans to bring his parents with him on the trip, so Notre Dame could move into pole position following the weekend. He also told us a decision is expected by November. Cole is a versatile athlete that has made plays at quarterback, running back and wide receiver for Neville.
Recruiter: Lyght
Visit: Sept. 17 (official visit)

Pittsburgh has been the leader for the longest, and a decision is expected next month. Is Jeter just enjoying the process or is there legitimate interest in the Irish? The staff should get a better feel on that this weekend on his official visit.
Recruiter: Elston
Visit: Sept. 17 (official visit)

Notre Dame fits the title of dark horse in this recruitment. Iowa and Michigan are the more popular picks, but Notre Dame has some staying power. The Irish would like to get him back on campus sooner than later; a final decision could come as soon as October.
Recruiter: Denbrock
Visit: August

Stanford is Notre Dame’s biggest competition to land Sarell, though some see it as the other way around. The Irish usually get who they want on the offensive line, but Sarell is Scout’s No. 2 overall prospect regardless of position. The Cardinal is recruiting the five-star just has hard, and distance is something Notre Dame will have to overcome. Washington is also in the picture.
Recruiter: Hiestand
Visit: Irish Invasion, Oct. 15 (official)

Phillips has long been considered an Oklahoma lean, but the Sooners went all-in for linebacker Anthony Hines over the summer. When Hines didn’t commit, Oklahoma shifted its attention back to Phillips, who took an official visit to Norman last weekend. This appears to be a three-team race at the top among Alabama, Oklahoma and Notre Dame. Phillips, who is being recruited for linebacker but could develop into a defensive end long-term, will take his official visit to Notre Dame this weekend.
Recruiter: Elston
Visits: March 19 (Junior Day), Sept. 17 (official visit)


- Notre Dame needs at least one more offensive tackle in this class to go with offensive line commits Dillan Gibbons (guard), Joshua Lugg (tackle) and Robert Hainsey (tackle/guard). Sarell is obviously the No. 1 target. Fellow California native Aaron Banks, who returns to Notre Dame on an official visit this weekend after visiting in August, is also a top target. Notre Dame impressed him on his first trip, but we’ll likely know how serious of a contender the Irish are after this weekend. Similar to Sarell, distance could play a factor. Hiestand will need to evaluate other offensive line prospects this fall if Sarell and Banks stay on the West Coast.

- Defensive end is another position where the staff will continue to evaluate talent into the fall. As mentioned above, the staff will get a better read on Jeter’s intentions after this weekend. Joshua Paschal is considering Notre Dame, but he’s likely to stay on the East Coast. K’Jakyre Daley hasn’t taken an official visit to Notre Dame, and until he does, we’re not sure his offer is a committable one.

- Notre Dame is likely done along the interior of the defensive line unless it elects to turn up the heat on Daniel Cage’s younger brother, Jerron Cage, an Ohio State commit. Cage may not end up at Ohio State, either. He’ll be an interesting one to track into the fall and winter. He’ll be a frequent visitor in South Bend this fall to watch his brother. He was in town last weekend for the home opener and watched Daniel do interviews after the game.

- Ahmed can play either cornerback or safety, and Notre Dame would love to land a player of his versatility and fit. Carter is the top safety target moving forward, but Cole isn’t far behind him. 

- Notre Dame has two wide receivers it really likes already in the fold in Jordan Pouncey and Michael Young. Black, Calvin, Martin, Jeremiah Holloman, Texas A&M commit Hezekiah Jones, and Washington commit Terrell Bynum are the main targets going forward. Jones is expected to take an official to South Bend this weekend.

- Unless a running back emerges on the radar that’s too good to pass up, Notre Dame seems content on just taking commitment C.J. Holmes at the position in 2017. Top Stories