Notre Dame missed out on one West Coast safety target this week.
Now the Irish might be turning up the heat on another.
That means the loss of Jevon Holland to Oregon could be a gain for D'Angelo McKenzie, at least in terms of Irish recruiting attention. Holland had been a target for months before coming off the board for the Ducks. Now it’s McKenzie’s turn to get a more serious look from South Bend.
The San Jose, Calif., product has enjoyed getting to know Notre Dame’s top recruiter on the West Coast.
“Everything is going great,” McKenzie said. “I keep in touch with coach Brian Polian a lot. He came by to visit. He’s a really great coach. He knows how to get you excited and going and tells me that I’m like an underdog kid and that he’s rooting for me. He can’t wait to see what life has in store for me.”
McKenzie is listed at cornerback on many recruiting services, including Scout. The 6-foot, 175-pound junior set the record straight.
“Every school is actually recruiting me as a safety,” McKenzie said. “I don’t know how it became cornerback (per recruiting services). I can play both. Sometimes, the way our defense works is that I come down sometimes, so it looks like I’m a corner. It’s kind of like nickel.”
The Irish agree. McKenzie’s skill set suits the safety position most.
“We really haven’t talked about it that much,” McKenzie said. “But for me, strong safety.”
McKenzie has offers from Arizona, Arizona State, Hawaii, Notre Dame, Oregon State, San Diego State, San Jose State, UCLA, Utah, Washington State and Wyoming.
Of all the schools vying for his services, two are pushing harder than the rest.
“I would say UCLA and Notre Dame are recruiting me the hardest,” McKenzie said.
“UCLA, I like it because it’s a home setting, it’s not that far. The (defensive back) coach (Demetrice Martin), he’s just an outgoing coach and knows what he’s talking about and I like the atmosphere there.”
“Notre Dame, I like it because it’s a whole new setting for me, because it’s kind of far. I kind of don’t want to stay near home. So, that would be good for me. That’s a big football place. That school is really big on football. The games are always packed and there’s a lot of excitement for football. I like that.”
McKenzie is impressed with everything he’s hearing about Notre Dame, but wants to see it for himself. The savvy safety is eyeing a visit in the coming months.
“I plan to visit over the summer,” McKenzie said. “Just taking a visit, not the camp.”
Like McKenzie’s top schools, his decision timeline is becoming clear as well.
“At first, I kind of wanted to wait until signing day in my senior year,” McKenzie said. “But then it kind of changed as the process and time goes on, if I feel like it’s the right fit and go on a visit and I feel comfortable and I feel everything is good, then I’ll be ready.”
McKenzie currently sits with a decent offer list. With a strong performance at The Opening Regionals event in Oakland, he could see his stock rise and earn more substantial offers.
The fifth-ranked cornerback in California totaled 54 tackles, two interceptions, two pass breakups and two fumble recoveries (one taken for a touchdown) in his junior season.