The big-name recruits headed to campus are well known. So are the Irish commitments intent on pitching them on Notre Dame. Depending on how things go within the Irish recruiting machine during the coming days, any commitment should have a substantial affect on how this class shapes up.
So exactly who’s being targeted heavily, and what would their commitment mean?
Let’s look at the top four targets and what could happen to the big picture of Notre Dame’s class if they jump in.
The Irish have two promising linebackers committed and both will be in South Bend this weekend.
Matt “Bo” Bauer could be the future at Mike. The Pennsylvania native is outstanding in his pursuit to the football and shows he’s well-rounded as a result of his impressive intangibles. Bauer finished last season with 114 total tackles, 22 tackles for loss and 12 sacks. If he keeps it up, he’ll be a fan favorite in South Bend.
Ovie Oghoufo is talented too, but with a different skill set. The four-star junior has traits that could lead him to the Rover position, especially until he adds the bulk necessary for him to compete as a college linebacker. But for now, Oghoufo is a traditional linebacker.
That said, Notre Dame wants to add at least one more impact linebacker and Dallas Gant is one of the best in the country. If the Irish managed to seal the deal with Gant this weekend, Notre Dame could shut down linebacker recruiting for the cycle.
A Gant commitment would give the Irish three four-star linebackers who are true fits for the position for the first time under Brian Kelly. The Irish pulled it off in the ’14 haul in Nyles Morgan, Drue Tranquill and Greer Martini. Morgan was actually a five-star prospect and Tranquill was rated as an outside linebacker, where he’ll play most under Mike Elko.
Notre Dame would still need to add talent at Rover, i.e. Shayne Simon, but the Irish may get themselves into a position scholarship-wise that could force them to turn down talented recruits such as Jack Lamb, Dax Hollifield, Elijah Winston and others.
Defensive tackle P.J. Mustipher will be one of the biggest names in South Bend this weekend. The top-100 defensive tackle would fill a position of great need at Notre Dame. Currently, Notre Dame only has Jayson Ademilola committed to play in the interior of the defensive line.
They need more bodies and they want quality.
If Mustipher returns to Maryland leaning toward an Irish commitment, Notre Dame will have one of the best pairs of defensive tackles in the 2018 class. Mustipher (No. 84 overall) and Ademilola (No. 207) would be the highest-ranked pair of defensive tackles to go Irish since Sheldon Day (No. 50) and Jarron Jones (No. 209) five years ago. To put Mustipher’s overall rank in more context, he’s well ahead of Louis Nix (No. 102) and Darnell Ewell (No. 146) in their classes.
Oregon standout Chase Cota is an outstanding athlete with an NFL bloodline. If Braden Lenzy and Co. manage to persuade him to commit to Notre Dame, the Irish would have and SEC-like combination at wide receiver that was rooted in Pac-12 country.
Then there’s Florida receiver Kevin Austin, who appears to be already leaning toward Notre Dame. If The Opening Finalist goes home satisfied in South Bend and commits to Kelly in the future, the receiver class will be among the best in the nation.
And what if the Irish get Austin and Cota? Then Notre Dame could be looking at the nation’s No. 1 receiver haul. Cota, based on his current ranking at No. 46 overall, would rate as the highest-rated receiver to commit to the Irish under Kelly. Lenzy at No. 97 trails only Davonte Neal (No. 74), Justin Brent (No. 64) and Javon McKinley (No. 55). And if the Irish add Austin (No. 262), it would give Notre Dame three receiver commitments ranked in the Scout 300 for just the second time under Kelly, following Miles Boykin (No. 161), Equanimeous St. Brown (No. 207) and C.J. Sanders (No. 268) from the ‘15 haul.
There are solid arguments for each of these top recruits to end up signing with Notre Dame. Although it’s almost certain that none of them will commit to the Irish this weekend, it’s also likely that significant headway will be made with all of them.
If Notre Dame wants to compete with Alabama and Ohio State for championships in the future, closing on this weekend’s prospects could be a big boost. It’s all set up for the Irish to do just that.