Louisville weekend at one point looked like it would boast no official visitors, but that changed considerably over the last few weeks as a some key targets for the Irish staff scheduled their trips. Read on to get the down low on this week's visitors.
Players who have already committed to ND are in italics; rankings are 247 Composite overall/position.
Ben Edwards, S, #329/#20
Ronald Jones, RB, #83/#9 (Oklahoma State commit) [scratched, but still worth a note below]
Ykili Ross, CB, #178/#21 (ranked as a wide receiver)
Dexter Williams, RB, #119/#14 (Miami commit) [scratched as of last night with a broken foot]
With an official visitor list comprised entirely of defensive backs and running backs, this might as well be called
"Position of Need Weekend." The Irish staff really wants a fifth DB and second RB in this class, and it shows with the focus they're putting on these guys as well as the offers that have gone out recently.
The biggest story is probably a surprise visit by Ronald Jones, a bona fide elite back who many thought was leaning towards Notre Dame before a spring commitment to Oklahoma State. Momentum seems to now be trending strongly back towards the Irish, with some sentiment that Jones could actually be on commitment watch this weekend. What's even more interesting is that a commitment from Jones wouldn't necessarily close out running back recruiting. Stay tuned.
Note: After I wrote this section in my first draft, Jones pushed back his visit to the football banquet because his high school team made the playoffs and has to play this weekend. Everything above still stands, though, and in fact getting him in for the banquet may give the Irish an even better chance at a quick wrap to this recruitment.
Dexter Williams is another guy that has long been connected to the Irish despite being committed elsewhere. He may have had some classroom work to get in order before the Irish could seriously recruit him - most likely courses more than grades - and signs are that's moving along fine. Tony Alford has been working his usual magic to get the talented Floridian to take a serious look at Notre Dame.
Note: While Jones is missing the trip due to some good luck, Williams will now miss the trip due to some of the opposite - he broke his foot last night. He did a good job of keeping it in perspective, though:
Wont be going to ND i fractured my foot in last night game #blessed that it's only that— 2K15FLEX (@DexterW_22) November 22, 2014
He still wants to visit Notre Dame, but nothing to report on rescheduling the visit yet.
Many Irish fans assumed that Ykili Ross, who seemed to favor Notre Dame early in the process, was a USC lock because of comments his father, a big USC fan, had made. However, Ykili himself has said recently that his family understands that this is his decision and his alone, and that his mother has said he should go as far away as he can for college. And here he is taking a cold-weather trip to South Bend on the weekend that USC plays UCLA. Does it mean he's Irish? No, but it does mean we're legitimately in the race. He'll also be at USC-ND next weekend.
Safety Ben Edwards is a player the Irish staff is very high on, regardless of his rankings. A look at his highlight film gives a clue as to why - the kid absolutely loves to hit. If he and Fertitta are ever on the field together, we might have to keep an EMT team on retainer. He was committed to Ohio State and Auburn earlier in the process, but indications are that academics were always important to him and he was covering himself with those commitments. He recently received offers from Notre Dame and Stanford, the alma mater of both his parents, and those are his two leaders now; despite the parental connection, it's believed the Irish sit in pretty good position. Most likely, between Stanford and Notre Dame, one will get Ben Edwards and one will get Frank Buncom.
Jerry Tillery, OT, #154/#14
Adonis Williamson, CB, #623/#52
Liam Eichenberg, OT, #83/#10
Gavin Cupp, OT, NR/NR
Obviously, the big news here is the unofficial visit by Jerry Tillery, which is the third unofficial trip he's taken to Notre Dame (the other two were for Irish Invasion and the Michigan game). Most importantly, Tillery will be joined on the trip by his mother, who has been very vocal about her preference for Jerry to stay closer to home. Mom's pro-ND opinion may not be necessary to keep Tillery in the fold, but if the staff can bring her around it's pretty much a lock. Tillery is still scheduled to take his official visit for the football banquet as well, and then enroll in January.
Indianapolis native Adonis Williamson is a new name on the radar. He doesn't hold an Irish offer yet but is drawing some interest from the staff, likely as a potential backup plan if other defensive back options fall through. For a low-ranked recruit his cohort is respectable; he has offers from Virginia Tech, Missouri, and Louisville, and is considered a Virginia Tech lean.
Elite 2016 offensive lineman Liam Eichenberg has made several trips to Notre Dame and the Irish are considered firmly in the lead for his services. Should the staff manage to get Eichenberg on board, they'll have snagged the top two lineman in Ohio in the 2016 class and two kids that Ohio State and Michigan really want. Michigan fans in particular may melt down, as they felt they led for Liam for a long time. Here seems like a good place to note that Michigan still hasn't scored.
Gavin Cupp is another new name on the radar, and yet another Ohio lineman. You'll probably see his rankings climb considerably given his cohort - in addition to Notre Dame, he's being recruited by Louisville, Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska, Ohio State, Pitt, and West Virginia, among others.
Some quick hitters:
- RB Soso Jamabo still wrestling with his decision and might take more visits. There's a long way to go yet, but it looks like the Irish are fading.
- RB/ATH Cameron Scarlett just canceled his Oregon visit but isn't done with visits yet.
- Looks like TE Alize Jones is still trending towards the Irish and scheduled to take an official visit for the football banquet.
- Nothing on the radar about pass rushers, although elite DTs Christian Wilkins and Joseph Wicker have both talked about taking official visits recently.
- Big-receiver prospect Lawrence Cager will visit for the football banquet as well. It'll be interesting if the staff would be willing to wait on Equanimeous St. Brown if Cager wants to commit; there are some indications that ESB's star may be fading a bit.