Last year Notre Dame got a preview of its next recruiting haul at the Under Armour Future 50 when tight end Brock Wright and offensive lineman Robert Hainsey stood out among the nation’s best underclassmen outside Orlando, Fla. A year later those Irish commits and early enrollees were back for the main event, the Under Armour All-America Game.
Could next year’s Irish class have similar roots in this year’s Future 50? Irish Illustrated runs down some of the top performers from last weekend who have connections to Notre Dame, including a couple top targets who rate the Irish near the top of their lists.
Three-star defensive end Malik Vann put forth a strong effort against several highly-rated offensive linemen.
“It went well,” said the 6-foot-2, 260-pounder from Fairfield, Ohio. “I lost one rep because I went past the bag. I got up the field too quick, but I finished 5-1 on the day.”
Vann beat five-star tackle Brey Walker, an Oklahoma commitment, and split with four-star tackle Richard Gouriage.
“There are a lot of people who want to be the best and you have to outwork them for it,” Vann said. “It was the best football experience I've ever had.”
Vann plans to announce his college commitment on June 26.
Notre Dame, Michigan State, Tennessee, Kentucky and Wisconsin make up his short list, but that could change with some upcoming visits to Kentucky and UCLA.
Mike Elko, Notre Dame’s new defensive coordinator, reached out to Vann recently.
“He said he’ll be down after the dead period,” Vann Said. “He said he liked my film and remembered recruiting my brother when he was at Bowling Green.”
Marquise Vann played at Connecticut from 2011-2015.
Four-star cornerback Houston Griffith entered the event as one of the nation’s top defensive backs and nothing changed after his performance on Saturday.
“It was a great experience,” said the 6-foot, 193-pounder from IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. “I could have done better. I could’ve gotten my hand on a couple balls.”
Griffith enjoyed competing against the top wide receivers in the country.
“I couldn’t even say (which one was best),” he said. “Each receiver down there was good, that’s why they were at the Future 50.”
Griffith plans to reveal a list of favorites this season with a commitment coming during his senior year.
He spoke with Irish defensive coordinator Mike Elko on Monday.
“Coach (Autry) Denson texts me every day,” Griffith said. “Actually, me and coach Elko were literally just texting. He told me I'm a priority in making the ND defense great again.”
Griffith doesn’t know much about Elko but he likes what he hears of the defensive coordinator’s reputation.
“I've heard he's one of the smartest defensive coordinator’s in the country,” he said.
It took a single one-on-one rep for Mustapha Muhammad to prove he belonged at the Under Armour Future 50 camp on Saturday at Disney’s Wide World of Sports in Kissimmee, Fla.
Mustapha, a 6-foot-5, 230-pound four-star tight end from Missouri City, Texas, lined up across from five-star cornerback Patrick Surtain.
Muhammad used an inside cut to beat Surtain off the line of scrimmage, then jumped just high enough to pull in the overthrown ball despite Surtain’s efforts to break up the pass.
“I feel like I played good enough to get an invite to the UA game (next year),” Muhammad said. “I had a monster catch.”
Muhammad finished the one-on-ones with a 2-1 record. He beat Surtain and four-star safety Jaiden Woodbey. He lost to four-star cornerback Verone McKinley, but that was a rep Muhammad let slip away, literally.
“I went two out of three and the one I lost was because I slipped,” Muhammad said. “I would've won that rep because I shifted the DB pretty bad.”
Muhammad added a USC offer last week, pushing his total to 32.
Notre Dame offered last spring but contact has slowed down over the winter.
“The last time was probably when I asked coach (Todd) Lyght and (Scott) Booker about why they were being investigated,” Muhammad said. “I heard Booker got fired.”
Muhammad plans to touch base with the Irish staff in the near future.
“It’s a prestigious university and has lots of tradition,” he said.
Four-star wide receiver Jahan Dotson had a solid day catching passes. He showcased his speed and reliable hands.
Dotson plans to visit North Carolina this winter and hears from the Irish, Alabama, Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State.
Five-star guard Jamaree Salyer dominated some of the nation’s top defensive linemen. His only loss in the one-on-ones came when he lost his balance.
“It went great,” Salyer said of the event.
Notre Dame is likely trailing Clemson, Georgia and Ohio State but the Irish have a shot, especially if they can get him on campus this fall before he makes his college decision. Salyer was on the roster for the Irish Invasion last summer.
Four-star quarterback J.T. Daniels was one of just three class of 2019 prospects invited to the event.
By all accounts, he was among the most consistent passers at the event and displayed pinpoint accuracy and a strong arm.