One of the best players in the nation will return to Notre Dame this weekend.
Five-star offensive tackle Foster Sarell, ranked No. 2 overall in the latest Scout300, heads to campus late tonight for his official visit. Sarell last visited during the Irish Invasion weekend, a trip that’s kept Harry Hiestand and company in contention for months.
Sarell plays a game tonight and will head straight to the airport. He and both parents will take a redeye flight from Seattle to Chicago, spend all of Saturday in South Bend then head back home Sunday.
“I know for Foster and us, it’s about seeing this incredible Notre Dame game day experience,” said Pam Sarell, Foster’s mother. “We’re excited about that. The only game we’d been to prior to any of his official visits was UW. We’ve never seen anything else. It’s really cool to see, like Nebraska’s fans are crazy. The fans were yelling for Foster. It was really crazy. I didn’t know that even they knew their recruits. Notre Dame also has that awesome game day experience, we’ve heard. We’re excited to see that.”
Nebraska is the only other official visit Sarell has taken.
Getting back to Notre Dame checks another step off the family’s to-do list as the 6-foot-6, 300-pound prospect marches toward a decision. But plenty has changed since they made the trek to South Bend during the summer.
Things haven’t gone as expected this season with the Irish off to a 2-4 start. Stanford, not only the opponent this weekend but another top option for Sarell, is 3-2 through five games.
Current records, however, aren’t necessarily something the family considers.
“We don’t,” Pam said. “We look at what program is gonna be best for Foster, what style is gonna be best for Foster. We also look at life after football, what’s gonna be best. The wins and losses right now don’t really honestly mean a thing to us. He’s gonna go where he feels he fits and belongs.”
Notre Dame gave Sarell a glimpse at that potential fit during the summer.
Sarell connected with left tackle Mike McGlinchey and guard Hunter Bivin but also the line as a whole. Hiestand has also made a strong enough impression as the leader of that group to keep the Irish in play over the long haul.
“He really thought (McGlinchey) was pretty cool,” Pam said. “They’re probably not gonna put him with Mike because he’s a senior or junior, he’s older. They’ll put him with a younger guy. But Foster really thought their little brotherhood was amazing. He’s looking forward to seeing that again.”
It’s safe to say the season narrative hasn’t changed just for Notre Dame and Stanford. Washington has vaulted to No. 5 in the latest AP Poll after a 6-0 start that included a 44-6 rout of Stanford that Sarell attended.
“I guess there’s probably more hype on the outside than on the inside regarding that,” Pam said. “Foster gives all the props. UW has been playing really, really well and there’s no doubt about that. But communication with the coaches and all that … it’s not like it’s changed much, I would say. He’s communicating about the same with these coaches regardless of how good UW is doing or how unexpectedly things are turning out for Notre Dame and Stanford.”
Notre Dame will be Sarell’s second official visit following that trip to Nebraska last month. He’s since made trips to Stanford and Washington unofficially. Washington is in line for a November official visit when it hosts USC.
Sarell plans to be at Alabama for the Iron Bowl in late November as well, capping his official visit tour. Stanford isn’t likely to receive another trip unless that’s the program Sarell chooses.
After the travel is done, Sarell has been targeting a late November or early December decision.
“That looks like it’s gonna be about the same,” Pam said. “He’s not gonna commit to a school and then go do an official visit with somebody else. That’s not what he’s gonna do.”
Carter’s Visit Looms Large
Three-star safety Amari Carter will make it back to Notre Dame this weekend for an official visit.
Carter is no stranger to campus after visiting for Irish Invasion last summer. He also has a pair of former Palm Beach Gardens (Fla.) High School teammates on the roster in safety Devin Studstill and linebacker Te’von Coney.
But while Coney and Studstill overcame the pull to stay closer to home, Notre Dame likely needs a strong trip to move past Miami and into poll position for this 6-foot-2, 180-pound athlete.
“Miami for sure, but that's going into the visit,” said Corey Bender, Florida recruiting analyst for Scout. “Visiting a school like Notre Dame is an eye-opening experience for anyone, let alone a teenager that hasn’t traveled to many schools. Notre Dame tends to leave their mark once kids officially step foot in South Bend, especially kids out of Florida like Studstill, (Kevin) Stepherson and Coney.
“Miami has the momentum going into the trip, and they remain my choice, but that could certainly change by the end of the weekend.”
Carter plans to announce his commitment Oct. 22, so this will be one last chance for the Irish to impress before the decision.
California Stars Headed To South Bend
A trio of top prospects from the West Coast will be in South Bend on Saturday. But the Irish have their work cut out for them if they hope to land a commitment from any of the three.
Cornerback Elijah Hicks and athlete Greg Johnson will make official visits to Notre Dame while junior cornerback Marcus Johnson will tag along with his brother. Hicks attends the same high school that produced Irish tight end Tyler Luatua.
Scout analyst Greg Biggins is high on Hicks as a player and feels the Irish have a legitimate shot at landing the four-star prospect from La Mirada, Calif.
“I love him as a player,” Biggins said. “We just moved him into the Scout 300 (on Wednesday). He's easily one of the better corners I have seen this year. He's a pretty good looking kid on both sides of the ball, wide receiver as well, but he's going to be a corner at the next level. He's a real fast, athletic, tough kid. He plays with a little bit of an edge to him. He's a playmaker. He's one of those guys that always seems to be around the ball.”
Notre Dame’s competition likely comes from the Los Angeles programs.
“Recruiting-wise, UCLA was kind of the school everyone talked about the most early on,” Biggins said. “I don't think there is a leader right now but they had kind of most of the early buzz. USC is involved, obviously Notre Dame is up there. Northwestern, I don't see that happening even though he's a big academic kid. Cal, Washington are also involved. If I had to guess I'd probably say it would be one of the LA schools or Notre Dame.”
http://www.scout.com/college/notre-dame/player/193381-greg-johnson Johnson, a four-star athlete who committed to Arizona in March, is being recruited primarily as a defensive back.
Biggins believes Johnson will stick with the Wildcats, but Notre Dame has an outside shot of flipping the two-way standout.
“I think it's going to be kind of hard to flip him from Arizona,” Biggins said. “He's got family in the area and he's really, really close with the (defensive backs) coach over there. They basically run the Arizona defense at his high school because his coaches are pretty tight with the defensive coordinator there. Everything is kind of built around him going to Arizona, but you never know. Notre Dame obviously is a traditional power and Arizona is going to struggle a little bit this year; they are struggling this year. They're horrible in the secondary so he's being told he could come in and play right away and maybe even start. I could see him kind of being enticed by Notre Dame, but it might be kind of tough to pull him.”
Marcus Johnson landed an offer from the Irish this spring and could end up being the most talented of the Johnson brothers.
“Marcus isn't as big as Greg or as athletic or physical right now but he might be a more fluid athlete,” Biggins said. “Greg is more of a straight line guy, he is really stocky. He's almost built like a running back. Marcus is a little more fluid in the hips and a little better laterally and a little better change of direction. I think he actually projects as a better corner just because of that.”
It’s early in the recruiting process but there’s a good chance Johnson ends up at the same school as his older brother.
“Obviously, him and Greg are super tight,” Biggins said. “USC is a dream school for him, so they're involved as well. I know he likes Notre Dame a lot, but wherever Greg goes, I think is going to be the school he has the best chance of going to.”
Peach State Safety A Top Target
Four-star junior safety Derrik Allen landed an offer from Notre Dame during a spring visit.
The 6-foot-2, 206-pounder from Marietta, Ga., is scheduled to return to South Bend on Saturday and remains one of the top targets in the Class of 2018.
“Allen is a versatile defensive back who can project as a corner or safety,” said Scout recruiting analyst Chad Simmons. “He has great size and is very instinctive and smart between the lines. He is a very mature young man and who you see on the field is who he is off the field.”
Allen, who holds offers from Alabama, Clemson, Georgia and Ohio State, among others, isn’t in any hurry to make his college choice.
“In recruiting, Allen is laid back and does not welcome attention,” Simmons said. “Alabama, Clemson, Georgia, Notre Dame and Ohio State are definitely schools involved. North Carolina is one to watch; he has family there.”
Pennsylvania Tight End Set To Return
Four-star junior tight end Zack Kuntz attended Notre Dame’s game against Duke and he’s scheduled to return Saturday for his third trip to South Bend since the spring.
The 6-foot-7, 215-pounder from Camp Hill has remained in close contact with the Irish coaching staff and he’s looking forward to this trip.
“They just said they were glad I was out for the last game and they are excited I'm coming out again this weekend,” Kuntz said.
Kuntz, the third-ranked tight end in the nation, also plans to visit Ohio State and Penn State this fall.
According to Scout analyst Brian Dohn, Kuntz has the skills and ability to thrive at the next level.
“Kuntz brings great size and speed down the field, and he tracks the ball well,” Dohn said. “He is quick getting off the line of scrimmage and he is able to secure the ball with his hands and put it away quickly. His height makes him an ideal red zone threat, and his ball tracking skills allow him to high point passes well above the defender's reach. He needs to tighten up his entry and exit from breaks, and he will need to get stronger so he can be an effective run blocker.”
Dohn believes Notre Dame is in the thick of the race to land Kuntz.
“Academics are big to Kuntz,” Dohn said. “He talks a lot with Penn State, Pittsburgh, Notre Dame and Michigan. Also, keep an eye on Stanford with this one. Once the offseason hits, he could make some SEC visits, including one to Alabama.”
Irish Hit Midwest ‘18s Hard
Notre Dame will also host some notable prospects from Ohio, Indiana and Illinois.
Jaelen Gill, a four-star running back from Westerville, Ohio, headlines that group. Gill holds offers from Notre Dame, Ohio State, Michigan, UCLA, USC, Tennessee and a host of others.
Ohio State likely has the inside track to land Gill, but the talented ball carrier continues to speak highly of the Irish.
Four-star linebacker Dallas Gant, defensive end Alex Reigelsperger, tight end Jack Cravaack and defensive tackle Aeneas Hawkins also are expected to take in the game on Saturday. They all hail from Ohio.
Houston Griffith, a four-star cornerback from Chicago, will be back on campus again. Griffith is now at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., making the trip a little more involved. He last visited for Irish Invasion. Three-star receiver Micah Jones, who landed an offer after performing at Irish Invasion, is another Illinois prospect expected.
Three-star linebacker Cameron McGrone will be getting a closer look at the Irish after making the trip from Indianapolis. Cincinnati, Indiana, Iowa, Nebraska and Northwestern have already offered the Scout300 prospect.
LSU Commit Visiting Notre Dame
Four-star safety Grant Delpit, who’s been committed to LSU since July, confirmed late Thursday plans to visit Notre Dame this weekend.
Delpit had been a target of the Irish staff before committing to LSU. A Texas native, Delpit is playing his senior season at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., where he’s teammates with Notre Dame commitment Robert Hainsey.