Twitter movements in recruiting often start small.
Screen shots are a good place to begin. Josh Lugg, a four-star offensive tackle, has made much use of them while helping build Notre Dame’s class since committing before his junior season. Passing that information along to other commitments helps get the ball rolling.
“It just happens,” Lugg said. “Sometimes it’ll happen at like 7 a.m. and we hit one guy up at like midnight. There will be random times where we’re like, ‘Hey, check this guy’s Twitter out.’ We’re always taking screen shots of guy’s Twitters and are like, ‘Go follow this guy.’”
Doing so helps bring uncommitted targets into a community.
Notre Dame is sitting on 17 verbal commitments in the Class of 2017 heading into the stretch run before National Signing Day. There are another six in the junior class. They’re all part of an ongoing group text that’s prone to cover any topic, but especially the recruiting.
Twitter is the means by which Notre Dame pledges rope others into their group or meet potential targets. It’ll start with a screen shot. Next comes a formal introduction. Then comes the real recruiting.
“We always find out what they’re interested in and find the common interest between that and Notre Dame,” said four-star tight end Cole Kmet, another longtime commitment. “Some guys are interested in a good academic institution, so we talk about Notre Dame in that sense. We just kinda make them relate to Notre Dame in some way.”
There’s been plenty of movement in this regard during the last few weeks. Four-star linebacker Antjuan Simmons has been one of the recipients.
Simmons, who de-committed from Ohio State at the end of November, started hearing from Notre Dame pledges almost immediately. Many of them reached out openly via Twitter. But they also realized a more delicate approach might be required.
Just like Irish coaches, the commitments realize not every recruit is the same.
“We just reach out and stay in touch with them,” Kmet said. “There are some guys, and I think Antjuan is one of them, that you don’t want to pester too much. You just want to let them make their decision. That’s knowing each guy individually and letting them make the decision for themselves.”
Ups and downs in recruiting also reflect in the group chat and on social media.
Four-star linebacker Pete Werner informed the group chat of his plans to de-commit from Notre Dame before it went public. Three-star wide receiver Jordan Pouncey did the same, expressing his affinity for the group before announcing it was in his best interest to back off his pledge with coaching staff uncertainty in South Bend.
“We understand that Notre Dame isn’t for everybody and it’s hard for some kids,” Lugg said. “We’re solid and we want them, obviously. But we’re not gonna be jerks about it. There are other schools where when I committed (to Notre Dame) they’re like, ‘We’re never talking to you again.’ I’m like, ‘Wow, thanks because if something does happen I know I don’t wanna be with you.’ We’re not harsh. If a kid de-commits, like Pete or Jordan, we’re not like, ‘Don’t talk to us.’ If they want to come back home, we’re here.”
Pouncey has since announced the Irish are still in play with Miami, Texas and Tennessee.
Notre Dame commitments mobilized on Twitter to let Pouncey know he’d be welcomed back with open arms, complete with a hashtag: #JP2ND. Pouncey can expect more of the same until a final decision is in.
“We’re all kinda friends,” Kmet said. “You know each person individually. So you know some guys you can pester until they fold like with Jordan. We’re just gonna stay on Jordan until he comes back.”
Late visit for Hawaiian defensive end?
Notre Dame is trying to sneak in late with Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, a 6-foot-4, 270-pound three-star defensive end from Kapolei, Hawaii.
Tagovailoa-Amosa has already taken official visits to USC and Georgia Tech. There are others set for Navy and Vanderbilt in January, leaving one trip remaining if Tagovailoa-Amosa chooses to use it. Notre Dame could be that choice.
“It would be very nice,” Tagovailoa-Amosa said.
Right now, nothing is set. Oregon is also looking to land a visit and is contending with the Irish for that final slot.
Army Bowl announcement predictions
Two Notre Dame targets — five-star offensive tackle Foster Sarell and four-star wide receiver Jamire Calvin — will announce verbal commitments Saturday during the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
Both are likely to end up elsewhere.
Sarell is choosing among Nebraska, Notre Dame, Stanford, USC and Washington. Calvin has a final group that includes Alabama, Nebraska, Notre Dame and Washington State, but he’s also saying one more visit (potentially to late offer Oregon or Texas) could happen even after deciding.
Either way, the expectation is the Irish will be out of play with both after Saturday.
Calvin prediction: Nebraska
Reasoning: Nebraska has been building considerable momentum here for a while. Notre Dame is hampered by the loss of Mike Denbrock to Cincinnati, where he’ll be the offensive coordinator. Denbrock served as area recruiter and potential position coach for Calvin if he chose Notre Dame.
Sarell prediction: Stanford
Reasoning: Washington’s resurgent season and proximity to home are worth a pause. It’s hard to bet against a program that played in the College Football Playoff and is only an hour away. But Stanford has been the favorite for months, so we’ll ride with the Cardinal until proven otherwise.
Field expands for safety target
Three-star safety Evan Fields released a final six earlier this week, expanding from four.
Arizona State, Baylor, Kansas State, Notre Dame, Oregon and UCLA remain standing. Arizona State and Kansas State have already hosted official visits. Fields also announced plans to make a verbal commitment public Jan. 30.
Oregon (Jan. 13) and Notre Dame (Jan. 20) are other visits in the works.
Notre Dame trending up with Martin?
Four-star wide receiver Oliver Martin plans to take an official visit to Michigan State, keeping the Spartans in the mix with Iowa and Notre Dame. Michigan has faded. Auburn recently offered but is unlikely to be a real contender, even if a visit takes shape.
This still feels like a Notre Dame-Iowa battle.
At least one prospect that talks with Martin regularly feels the Irish have a slight edge at this point, calling it a “60-40” edge. It’s certainly not a lock, but it’s a notable thought heading into the contact period.
Hicks locked in?
Four-star cornerback Elijah Hicks committed to Notre Dame following an October official visit, then visited Ann Arbor and contemplated switching his pledge to Michigan.
Although Hicks hasn’t state it publicly, it appears the Irish recovered and are in line to sign him on Feb. 1.
“Hicks has gone underground since his Michigan visit, but everything we're hearing right now is he's solid with Notre Dame,” said Scout.com West Coast recruiting analyst Greg Biggins. “The feeling was if Hicks was going to flip to Michigan, it would have already happened. The Irish staff did a great job relentlessly pursuing Hicks following that Michigan visit and it sounds like the hard work paid off in keeping him in the fold.”
Wake Forest connection
With the addition of Mike Elko as Notre Dame’s new defensive coordinator the Irish will have a few new recruiting targets to pursue.
Those prospects were previously targeted by Elko during his time at Wake Forest.
Three-star cornerback O.J. Tucker reconnected with Elko on Saturday.
“We talked about the games going on and he told me he was leaving for South Bend sometime this week,” said Tucker, a 6-foot, 190-pounder from Ocala, Fla. “He said he’d be in touch.”
Tucker, who has official visits scheduled for Iowa State on Jan. 13, Wake Forest on Jan. 20 and Central Florida on Jan. 27, likely would alter his plans if Notre Dame extends an offer.
“I’d probably change that UCF visit,” he said.
Junior linebacker Payton Wilson has already landed scholarship offers from Duke, Maryland, North Carolina, N.C. State, Penn State, Vanderbilt, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest and Wisconsin. He hopes to add Notre Dame to that list.
“I just get mail from them but coach Elko that was at Wake Forest is coming to Norte Dame and I'm gonna stay in touch with him,” said Wilson, a 6-foot-4, 220-pounder from Hillsborough, N.C. “He was very interested.”
Wilson made fall visits to Appalachian State, Penn State, North Carolina, NC State, Wake Forest, Virginia and East Carolina.
As a junior, Wilson recorded 127 tackles, including 39 for a loss, and 13 sacks on the way to being named the Defensive Player of the Year.
He also accumulated over 1,000 yards of offense and is athletic enough to hurdle a defensive back.
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