Insider Report: Crunch Time

An inside look at Notre Dame’s final four official visitors, plus a deep dive into one of them. What makes Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa tick? Plus, get a roundup of some new offers and Junior Day news.

Where things stand: Armstrong has tried to keep his interest in Notre Dame under wraps for the past couple weeks, but the Bishop Miege standout let it all out in the open on Thursday, confirming an official visit that’s actually been on the books for more than a week. Of all the prospects visiting this weekend, Armstrong is the best bet and it would be a surprise if the Irish didn’t flip the Missouri commitment. Minnesota got an official visit last weekend.

Quotable: “It’s hard not to know about them. In college football, Notre Dame is one of the five schools that you hear about the most. It’s such a prestigious school with a lot of history. It’s great that they’re interested in me. From an academic standpoint, it speaks for itself. “You don’t even need to talk about it.” – Jafar Armstrong

Where things stand: Harris remains committed to Arizona but is visiting South Bend this weekend with his parents and brother. The interest is there but the Irish have a lot of work to do to get Harris to flip from his parents’ alma mater. Playing time and Notre Dame’s academic reputation are working in the Irish’s favor.

Quotable: “Harris is a very intriguing kid because of his size and athleticism. He’s all of 6-4 and could play on either side of the ball but probably projects best as a pass rushing defensive end. He’s still raw in some areas but has a big upside to him because of his quickness off the edge and frame. Once he puts on 30-plus pounds, watch out. His father, Sean, played for Arizona in the early 1990s and he committed very early in the process to the Wildcats. I think it will be tough to flip him because of the family connection at UA but Notre Dame has been on him for a while now and definitely has a chance.” — Greg Biggins, national recruiting analyst

Where things stand: Tagovailoa-Amosa is sprinting toward the recruiting finish line with three visits this week: Navy, Notre Dame and Vanderbilt. He’s likely to make a National Signing Day decision. USC and Georgia Tech have also received official visits, although the Trojans are probably full at this point. Oregon and Washington have also recently offered.

Quotable: “He was very solid in the Polynesian Bowl practices while I was there and even better in the game. He's a bit of a tweener, probably not athletic or quick enough to be big-time defensive end but also not big enough yet for defensive tackle. Myron has some skill though, particularly when it comes to his foot speed and twitch off the snap. He uses his hands well, too, and is able to keep blockers off him in the pass rush.” — Blair Angulo, Mountain region recruiting analyst

Where things stand: A late offer from Notre Dame prompted Owusu-Koramoah to de-commit from Virginia. Now the Irish have to beat out Michigan State to land the three-star safety. That’s going to be tough to do considering Owusu-Koramoah’s preference for a stable coaching staff.

Quotable: “He has good size and length. He’s also very athletic and extremely physical. Specifically, if he chooses Notre Dame, he would be a perfect fit in their new 4-2-5 defense at the rover position because of his versatility and skill set. Both teams are really pursuing him hard. But being that Notre Dame was one of his dream schools growing up and the fact that he's taking his final visit to South Bend before deciding, I’d give the Irish an edge.” — Michael Clark, Southeast recruiting analyst

Inside Tagovailoa-Amosa’s rise
Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa (Blair Angulo)

At this time last year Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa was just another prospect looking to improve during the off-season. Now the three-star defensive end from Kapolei, Hawaii, is winding down a recruitment that’s expected to end with a National Signing Day commitment.

Tagovailoa-Amosa has gone from under-the-radar talent to breakout performer. His senior season at Kapolei High School included 18 sacks. Those numbers are certain to draw attention.

“They had him down for 14 (sacks) but those were only from our televised games,” said Darren Hernandez, the head coach at Kapolei. “We had two other games — our homecoming game at our field and another at our field — both weren’t televised, no sports writers were there. He had two sacks in both of those games.

“He can do it all. He’s a pass rusher, he’s a run stopper. He came in at 270. He’s probably now about 260 or 265 with the wear and tear and running from the season.”

Tagovailoa-Amosa cemented his status as legitimate prospect last week during the Polynesian Bowl, an all-star game played in O’ahu. He compiled two tackles-for-loss, a sack and a forced fumble in the game while often butting heads with four-star offensive tackle Chuck Filiaga, a Michigan commitment.

On that stage, Tagovailoa-Amosa displayed the things that drew his attention during the offseason.

“He worked on just the little things like take offs,” Hernandez said. “He really did a lot of work on firing off the football. His start off the football is amazing for a man of his size. Very cat-like reflexes for a man of his size. He worked on football specific training — pass rush moves, stance, starts, that type of stuff.

“He had 11.5 sacks as a junior, so he wasn’t too shabby as a junior. But this year he added in, not only the six, he had eight batted down passes at the line of scrimmage. He was able to be a smarter player, snuffing out screen passes regularly. His all-around game improved.”

Tagovailoa-Amosa departed the Polynesian Bowl for a whirlwind trip across the mainland in hopes of sorting out his college destination.

Georgia Tech and USC have already hosted the 6-foot-4, 270-pound prospect on official visits. He already saw Navy and Notre Dame this week. Vanderbilt gets him on campus this weekend. Oregon has also been involved and Washington joined the mix earlier this week with a scholarship offer.

But by the time Tagovailoa-Amosa ends his tour this week, he’ll have used up all five official visits. So it likely comes down to those main five when it’s time to decide.

“He’s a very smart kid with a 3.7 GPA,” Hernandez said. “Academics will play a big factor. If you look at the schools he’s visiting or has visited, they’re all academic schools — Georgia Tech, Vanderbilt, Notre Dame, USC, Naval Academy. He’s really taking the opportunity to explore schools that have great education as well as football.”

Notre Dame offered earlier this month as new defensive coordinator Mike Elko widened the net on targets. Special teams coordinator Brian Polian is the primary recruiter. And that’s not by mistake.

Polian, during his previous stint as an Irish assistant, served as the point man for signing former five-star linebacker Manti Te’o, another Hawaii native. Te’o’s stardom in South Bend still reverberates in his home state.

Tagovailoa-Amosa could be a similarly comfortable fit.

“Notre Dame is such a name brand,” Hernandez said. “As soon as someone says Notre Dame, you think of football. And they have a great education. Even if they’re 0-12, when you think of Notre Dame you think of football. There’s a mystique about it.

“Myron is such a great kid. He’s a level-headed guy and a spiritual guy, doesn’t have a cell phone. His mom and dad are both pastors. He hopes to be a pastor one day as well. He speaks with bible groups and church groups. He’s a man of God and a great kid. Upbeat personality, always smiling. He can sing and play the ukulele, just a wonderful guy to be around.”

Whether the Irish win out might not be revealed until National Signing Day. Tagovailoa-Amosa will sign during a ceremony in Honolulu along with top prospects from across the island.

“I’m not sure if he’s going to commit prior to that,” Hernandez said. “But obviously, those five are his top five. But again, there’s Washington and Oregon. Oregon is also in the picture and Washington just came on, obviously. I think they’re intrigued with Washington but that’s between he and his parents.”

Wardlow taking one more visit

Three-star defensive end Kofi Wardlow plans to visit Virginia tech this weekend. Notre Dame played host to the Maryland commitment last week.

Junior athlete set for visit

Three-star junior athlete Miles Jones will spend Friday visiting Notre Dame. Running backs coach Autry Denson has been in touch.

“Been talking and texting with coach Denson for about a month,” Jones said.

Jones will attend a pair of Junior Days over the weekend as well: Ohio State on Saturday and TCU on Sunday.

Georgia, Vanderbilt, West Virginia, Mississippi State, Syracuse and Wisconsin have already extended scholarship offers. Jones attends American Heritage in Plantation, Fla., the same program that produced former Irish linebacker Michael Deeb.

Vann excited to meet new staff

Junior defensive end Malik Vann probably scared a dozen or so college coaches on Thursday when he Tweeted a graphic that gave the impression he committed to Penn State.

Vann remains uncommitted and will visit Notre Dame in the spring.

He said he’s excited to meet new defensive coordinator Mike Elko and the rest of the new faces in the Irish locker room.

He’ll meet Elko sooner than that.

“I (direct messaged) him a couple times,” Vann said. “He's coming by the school and can't wait to meet me.”

Eye on ‘19

Notre Dame’s focus is closing out its recruiting class of 2017 but the Irish haven’t forgotten about the future.

Many class of 2018 prospects have heard from the Irish in recent weeks and even a few sophomores remain a priority.

Kentucky defensive tackle Jacob Lacey landed an offer from the Irish after a strong camp performance and returned to South Bend for the Nevada game.

Notre Dame recruiting coordinator Mike Elston has developed a strong relationship with the talented defensive lineman.

“I talk with coach Elston every so often,” Lacey said. “They are busy with 2017 so he told me to call after Feb. 1.”

Four-star sophomore cornerback Max Williams, a 5-foot-10, 160-pounder from Gardena, Calif., saw a Notre Dame coach at his school earlier this week and expects to hear more from the Irish in February.

Williams landed an offer from Notre Dame last April, late in his freshman year.. He was in South Bend with his 7-on-7 team, which included current Irish players Javon McKinley and D.J. Morgan.

News and notes

  • Four-star cornerback Braden Lenzy confirmed with Irish Illustrated plans to visit Notre Dame on Feb. 11 for its first Junior Day. Defensive backs coach Todd Lyght recently visited Tigard High School in Portland to check on Lenzy again.
  • Four-star junior offensive tackle Nick Petit-Frere added Notre Dame to the offer list this week. Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Miami, Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio State, Penn State and Tennessee have also offered.
  • Notre Dame assistant Clark Lea checked on four-star junior defensive end Devin O'Rourke this week. Illinois, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Syracuse and Wisconsin have already offered. Top Stories