BREAKING: This weekend is going to be bleeping bananas! I had a really clever intro - trust me - that would've made you laugh hysterically for days - again, trust me - but I had to toss it in the circular file because the last 48 hours have been insane with changes to the visitor list. Wimbush and Kirkland are in, Bilal may or may not be, somebody might be on commitment watch for the 2015 class or 2016, or both, or neither. More on all of that to follow...
A scant month ago, I opened my preview of the Michigan recruiting weekend by saying that "Stanford weekend looms large for Notre Dame's recruiting fortunes, but Michigan weekend is the indisputable premier event on the Irish recruiting calendar this season." As erstwhile Seminole Lee Corso would say, not so fast, my friend. The way the Notre Dame season and Irish recruiting momentum have shaken out thus far, Stanford
could will be a banner weekend - especially if Notre Dame can pull off a convincing win.
Players who have already committed to ND are in italics; rankings are 247 Composite overall/position.
Josh Adams, RB, #181/#18 (247 ranking only, not Comp - explanation below)
Calvin Brewton, S, #298/#17 (FSU commit)
Mekhi Brown, WDE, #61/#4 (Alabama commit)
Frank Buncom IV, CB, #123/#15
Darrin Kirkland Jr., ILB, #172/#5 (Michigan commit)
Equanimeous St. Brown, WR, #96/#9
Brandon Wimbush, dual-threat QB, #70/#4 (Penn State commit)
Wow. Seven official visitors, and four are committed elsewhere. Brian Kelly is a boss, like this guy.
Elite defensive end Mekhi Brown, who committed to Alabama almost a year and a half ago, was a surprise addition to the list this week; he would be an enormous coup both based on need and on stealing a kid from Saban. He still might not make it - there are some signs that his family might not want him to go far from home, but in any case his parents can't come on this visit because of the price of short-notice airfare and that could lead to rescheduling. If they were driving, by the way, ND could cover their gas money. The NCAA is ridiculous. UPDATE: Mekhi himself confirmed he's making the visit:
On the way to South Bend— Mekhi Brown (@MekhiBrownn) October 3, 2014
Garden State (represent!) quarterback Brandon Wimbush, who is currently committed to Penn State, is a very late addition to the visitor list. Academics are very important to Wimbush; in addition to Notre Dame, Stanford had caught his eye earlier. This is another example of the unparalleled work ethic of Tony Alford, who has been recruiting Wimbush and convinced the talented signal caller to visit with his mother for Stanford weekend. Yes, Mama's here, folks. While he's classified as "dual-threat," most analyses have him pegged as a slightly bigger version of Golson - a strong-armed pocket passer/downfield eyes guy who happens to be elusive. Um... Yes, please.
Potential Finer Things Club member Equanimeous St. Brown has topped the staff's wide receiver wish list for a very long time. St. Brown is much more than an interesting name - on the field he's big, fast, and has soft hands, and off the field he's an excellent student, has lived around the world and speaks three languages fluently (English, German, and French). He's 6'5" and 205 pounds and reports a 300 pound bench, made more believable by the fact that his father is a former world-class bodybuilder. He's a California kid and his mother has said she'd prefer him to go to Stanford, but some observers think the Irish lead. Note that Mom will be on this trip...
San Diego prospect Frank Buncom IV has wanted an Irish offer from the beginning, but a numbers crunch at safety, where he's projected to land at the next level, led Notre Dame to hold back. When Nicky Baratti went down with an apparent career-ending shoulder injury, though, the numbers changed; Buncom got his offer after the Purdue game and scheduled an official visit immediately. He's a serious student; Stanford, who offered over a year ago, is considered his leader, and besides Notre Dame the only other schools he's considering are Duke and Vanderbilt. The Irish likely have ground to make up just due to timing, but he really likes Notre Dame and there's a legitimate chance here. Buncom and St. Brown are friends and looking for similar things in a school - could it influence them to go to college together?
Birthday S/O to @Equanimeous about to kick it with him at ND this weekend! I'm still salty about you pushing off on that comeback route— Frank Buncom IV (@BeastNamedFrank) October 1, 2014
Michigan commit Darrin Kirkland Jr. could be the complement to Josh Barajas that the Irish are searching for in this class. Kirkland is an excellent prospect from just down the road who some, like OFD's own Jamie U, like better than other Indiana linebacker prospects who may or may not be waffling and shall not be named. Yet. Unlike Wimbush, Kirkland's Irish recruitment is not a submarine race - you're only seeing Notre Dame now because they've only just entered the fray, not because they've remained hidden. The way that the Michigan program is circling the bowl right now is probably a significant factor behind new interest in Notre Dame..
Running back Josh Adams is enjoying a monster senior year in Pennsylvania; on only 92 carries, he's racked up 928 yards and 16 touchdowns. He tore his ACL in his junior year and was downgraded by all the services, presumably under the assumption that he'd take a step back. Only 247 thus far has re-evaluated him this season, which is why his ranking is not the Composite but just the 247 ranking. He's real good. In fact, some analysts think he and Soso Jamabo are the same kind of talent.
Another surprise addition this week was safety Calvin Brewton, who has been committed to Florida State since the day after they won the national title. Tony Alford never stopped communicating with Brewton, though, which should come as a surprise to no one, and it appears it paid off as Brewton will be in town for the Stanford game. FSU fans are brushing off this visit, but there are positive signs. Notably, although Brewton's parents won't join him (probably also because of cost issues), he recently said that they like ND and "this is a school they wanted me to visit." Hmm. I think he's sending a subtle message with his choice of footwear here.
Just be chilling in my own lane..... ❗️ pic.twitter.com/ftuxwDGg8K— calvin brewton (@Calvin_Brewton) September 28, 2014
Nick Coleman, CB, #788/#61
Shaun Crawford, CB, #104/#11
Nicco Fertitta, S, #927/#63
Brandon Tiassum, DT, #446/#28
These four continue their season trend of visiting unofficially whenever possible. They all camped at Irish Invasion, and they've all been to multiple games this year; they should be a pretty tight group by the time summer session rolls around. If you're looking for leaders in the 2015 class, you could probably start with this group plus Tristen Hoge, who has been a vocal Irish supporter and assistant recruiter.
Lamar Anderson, ATH, #576/42
Tre Bryant, RB, NR/NR
Jonathon Cooper, WDE, #268/#14
Desmond Fitzpatrick, WR, #297/#50
Tommy Kraemer, OT, #18/#4
Austin Mack, WR, #96/#20
Demario McCall, RB, #84/#6
Tony Poljan, ATH, #356/#23
Auston Robertson, WDE, #123/#6
Ethan Tucky, OLB, #193/#14
Corey Malone-Hatcher, WDE, #105, #3
The big buzz in this group is that Tommy Kraemer, the crème-de-la-crème lineman from Ohio State's backyard, is likely on commitment watch. I won't say I'd be surprised if he doesn't commit this weekend, but I wouldn't be surprised if he does either. Even OSU analysts expect this weekend could be good to Notre Dame. Kraemer would start the 2016 class off with a bang.
Elite running back Demario McCall is a strong Ohio State lean at this point, but at least Notre Dame is in the game with a lot of time left. He doesn't have a Notre Dame offer yet but could pick one up soon.
Jonathon Cooper seems like a rarity - a talented Georgia kid who either has no interest in or is getting no interest from local schools. Ohio State is considered his leader right now, and in addition to Notre Dame he's looking at Michigan, Michigan State, and Kentucky. Cooper made the rounds on the camp circuit this summer, but this will be his first visit to Notre Dame. The Irish just offered him a couple of weeks ago.
Tony Poljan is a new name on the Irish radar. The Michigan prospect is ranked as an "athlete," but at 6'6" and 220 pounds it seems like his future would be either at tight end or defensive end. The two-sport athlete is not being recruited heavily for football at this point, but is drawing interest from a number of basketball schools. Most of the Big Ten, in fact, is recruiting him for basketball.
Of note, Fitzpatrick, Kraemer, Mack, and Tucky are each making their second unofficial visit this season, having all also visited for Michigan week.
Soso Jamabo and his father both recently said that Notre Dame is still his leader pending a UCLA visit, despite a late - and, according to Soso's father, futile - push from Texas A&M. Soso will take an official visit to UCLA on next weekend and is expected to announce shortly after; an impressive performance by the Irish this week would probably make his decision a little easier. His father seems decisively in Notre Dame's camp. It would be mildly surprising to get through October without adding Soso to the fold.
In a sort-of shocker, Louisiana running back and LSU commit Nick Brosette just confirmed he'll take an official visit to Notre Dame for the North Carolina came next weekend. I say "sort of" because Brosette was rumored to be interested in the Irish a long time ago, and the staff has stayed in contact with him throughout his recruitment. So it's not entirely shocking, but still, the potential to flip a Louisiana kid away from LSU almost doesn't compute.
There's some belief that the Irish would take all three of Adams, Jamabo, and Brosette, especially since the 6'3" Adams could potentially play linebacker, safety, or receiver. Finding room for all three of these guys would be the definition of a first-world problem.
Alize Jones, the #1 tight end in the 2015 class and teammate of Nicco Fertitta, committed to UCLA a while ago but visited ND for the Michigan game and is expected to take an official visit for the football banquet in December. Interestingly, while he hasn't decommitted, he just removed "UCLA commit" from his Twitter headline. The plot thickens.
Florida linebacker Tevon Coney may finally be nearing his own decision:
A Big Decision In My life coming soon— Tevon Coney9⃣ (@TevonConey) September 28, 2014
Reports are that the talented prospect is genuinely torn between Notre Dame and Florida; he likes Notre Dame and was blown away at Irish Invasion, but he's concerned about being far from home. Contrary to belief in some corners, his family has a great relationship with the Irish staff and would support his decision to go to ND. He pushed his decision back until after a scheduled visit to Florida next weekend, but his recruitment is fluid and anything could happen at any time. The staff believes things have been trending their way for a while now, and again could get good news before month is out.
There are also whispers coming from sources around Asmar Bilal that Notre Dame is a clear leader for the in-state linebacker. And when your two leaders are Michigan and Notre Dame, how could Notre Dame not be ahead right now? His recruitment is hard to get a read on because Bilal himself doesn't really talk to the services. It's also progressed a bit oddly - he was supposed to visit unofficially for the Michigan game, then the Purdue game, then Stanford, but all those visits were ultimately called off. The staff's sudden interest in Kirkland may indicate either that they're willing to move on or that they want to push Bilal to make a decision.