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. It's the last scheduled game of the series between two of the most tradition-steeped programs in college football, it's under the lights, and it's going to be loaded with critical visitors. In the immortal words of Mills Lane, let's get it on!
Players who already committed to ND are in italics; rankings are 247 Composite overall/position.
Tevon Coney, ILB, #370/#10
Micah Dew-Treadway, SDE, #626/#30
Porter Gustin, OLB, #68/#7
Jalen Guyton, WR, #464/#52
Tristen Hoge, C, #92/#1
Soso Jamabo, RB, #45/#3
Prentice McKinney, S, #406/#25
C.J. Sanders, WR,
Jerry Tillery, OT, #141/#12
Justin Yoon, K, NA/#1
Most considered Tevon Coney a lock to Florida a few months ago, but after his visit for Irish Invasion Notre Dame pulled even with the Gators. Any three of Gustin, Coney, Asmar Bilal, and the already-committed Josh Barajas would be an elite haul at linebacker for 2015. He'll decide soon and will be an early entry. Oh, and he did this:
Notre Dame would absolutely love to add Porter Gustin to the fold - he's basically at the same level as Justin Hilliard. It was a Mild+ surprise that ND is the first visit he scheduled; good news for the Irish. The 247 Crystal Ball is 100% USC now, but there are signs (including on 247) that the actual situation doesn't resemble that at all, that it's wide open. He's a big, athletic kid who could morph into a defensive end at the next level, and would be a take no matter how many other linebackers are in the class.
The mellifluously-named Soso Jamabo is my choice for the 2015 How Did We Land That Guy award, for no particular reason other than a hunch. Returning after Irish Invasion is a good sign, and it can't hurt to have fellow Texans and ND commits Jalen Guyton and Prentice McKinney in town too. Soso isn't likely to commit anytime soon, but a strong reaction to the visit could be telling. We may go down to the wire with UCLA on this kid (cue Jim Mora-centric KHAAAAAAN footage), and possible the closer-to-home Baylor and Oklahoma as well.
Everyone's favorite Bayou State lineman, Jerry Tillery, recently added himself to the Michigan visitor list. Given that Tillery is deep in LSU country and faces constant pressure to stay home and play for the Mad Hatter, this visit hopefully will let Irish fans ease their minds a bit. He also recently did the ALS Ice Bucket challenge and called out Harry Hiestand, and constantly tweets ND-related messages. I think he'll enroll at ND come January, but any positive sign along the way will be quite welcome.
ILB Bo Wallace (#440/#31) was already a tentative visitor as his school, John Curtis in New Orleans, LA, typically doesn't allow visits during the season. He asked his coach for a waiver but didn't get it, and will look to reschedule the visit for some time after his high school's season is over. He's an inside linebacker, but very adept at rushing the passer. Not that we need that kind of skill set. Bo was just as chagrined as the rest of us at his inability to visit this weekend, but encouraged us to keep a stiff upper lip:
It SUCKS that I have practice this Saturday and that I won't be making the ND game but I'll be visiting soon though— Bo'7⃣ (@_BoWallace) September 4, 2014
Coney, Dew-Treadway, Guyton, Hoge, McKinney, and Tillery all camped at Irish Invasion this summer.
Miles Boykin, WR,#193/#23
Nick Coleman, CB, #794/#63
Nicco Fertitta, S, #927/#64
Brandon Tiassum, DT, #445/#28
These guys, along with Shaun Crawford, all look like they'll be unofficial visit regulars for the 2014 season. Even Fertitta, the one guy who isn't local - how the heck can he afford all those plane tickets? Sheesh. Anyway, it's great to see a core group of guys dedicated to the Irish, excited about being on campus, and willing to lend a hand with other recruits.
Crawford, Coleman, Fertitta, and Tiassum all also camped at Irish Invasion. Hmm...
Ben Bredeson, OT, #32/#5
Samuel Denmark, WR, NR/NR
Desmond Fitzpatrick, WR, #301/#50
Jake Hausmann, TE, #71/#2
Malik Henry, pro QB, #3/#1
Lavert Hill, CB, #230/#22
Josh King, SDE, #45/#3
Tommy Kraemer, OT, #18/#4
Austin Mack, WR, #97/#20
Michael Onwenu, OG, #190/#4
Shea Patterson, pro QB, #26/#3
Brandon Peters, pro QB, #220/#13
Auston Robertson, WDE, #205/#13
Prince Sammons, SDE, #62/#5
Ben Skowronek, WR, NR/NR
Ethan Tucky, OLB, #192/#14
Quite the boatload of talent - a whopping eight players are ranked in the top five at their position. Of note, Irish Invasion hosted Bredeson, Fitzpatrick, Hausmann, Henry, Robertson, and Tucky. Sensing a theme? Summer camps have become critical recruiting tools, especially for the next recruiting cycle after them. We see that holding true with the traction the Irish have gained early on in the 2016 cycle.
The biggest story of this group is, not surprisingly, the highest rated recruit - composite #3 overall Malik Henry. Henry would be about the biggest possible way to start off the 2016 class, in part because of his ranking and in part because Notre Dame is going head-to-head with Florida State. Sentiment had long been that it was close but FSU had the lead; however, just in the last few days the tide seems to be shifting towards ND. Perhaps most significantly, 247 national analyst/mensch Steve Wiltfong recently flipped his crystal ball prediction to the Irish. There's a chance Henry could commit this weekend.
Not far behind Henry is five-star offensive tackle Tommy Kraemer, who should engender only slightly less enthusiasm among Irish fans than Henry (because everybody swoons over QBs). The Ohio product does plan to still visit at least Boston College, Duke, Northwestern, and Ohio State this fall, but his recruitment has been trending towards Notre Dame and there's a small chance he could commit this weekend. He'd also be an excellent way to kick off the 2016 class.
The next tackle in this class, Ben Bredeson, is widely expected to eventually choose the hometown Wisconsin Badgers but intends to be very thorough. He enjoyed his camp visit to Notre Dame and will give the Irish a legitimate look, at least.
Shea Patterson recently decommitted from Arizona and is looking around. Should Henry choose the Irish our chances with Patterson would obviously decrease dramatically, but it's not like the #26 overall recruit is a bad backup plan. He's considered an LSU lean at this point but seems intent on exploring his options.
Elite defensive end Josh King absolutely gushed about Notre Dame after his visit this summer, to the services and on Twitter. Then he visited Michigan two weeks later and said it was his best visit "by far." We'll excuse the momentary lapse in judgment, because it would be pretty cool to have Stephon Tuitt 2.0 in an Irish uniform. Watch for whether this visit can sway him back towards ND.
Right there in the rankings with King is Cincinnati defensive end Prince Sammons, who just confirmed he'll be on campus this weekend. He has only been playing football for two years; his first sport in his native Nigeria was soccer. Since his recruitment has heated up, he has visited, in order, Michigan, Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Ohio State, Alabama, Auburn, and Georgia. While he's an Ohio resident and the preponderance of SEC schools in is unmistakable, Mike Elston has put in some excellent work to build a relationship here and we may have a sense of whether it will pay off after Sammons sees ND for the first time.
Tight End U has obviously caught the eye of Jake Hausmann, as he'll visit multiple times this fall. The Irish will likely have to fight the Buckeyes until the end for the Moeller product's services.
Teammates Michael Onwenu and Lavert Hill (and 2017 WR Donovan Peoples-Jones, but more on him below) will make the trek down from Cass Tech, a Detroit-area school that typically feeds Michigan and Michigan State. It's something of a victory for the staff just to get kids on campus who play for schools that feed rival programs; it'll be interesting to see how serious a player the Irish can be for either of these young men.
Corey Malone-Hatcher, WDE, #101/#3
Josh Myers, OT, #3/#1
Donovan Peoples-Jones, WR, #12/#1
Dante Sparaco, pro QB, NR/NR
These rankings are 247 only, not the 247 Composite, as not all services have put out comprehensive 2017 rankings yet. Go figure.
Once again, Myers and Sparaco both camped at Irish Invasion. I don't think I even have to make the point anymore.
Yep, you read that right - Josh Myers is already the #3 overall recruit in 2017 and one of only three composite five-stars in the class at this point. His father played at Kentucky in the 80's and his brother plays there now, and as he's an Ohio kid the Buckeyes are always lurking. Notre Dame will have no shortage of competition for Myers, but at this stage all we can ask for is to be in the race.
Ohio State may currently lead for the top prospect in Michigan, Cass Tech product Donovan Peoples-Jones. This will be his first visit to Notre Dame, after visiting North Carolina, NC State, Miami, Tennessee, Penn State, and Ohio State over the summer. His visit list makes it seem like things are wide open right now, and it'll be interesting to see where Notre Dame might fit in the pecking order after this visit.
Corey Malone-Hatcher is considered a Michigan lean right now, although when you're more than two years away from signing day that doesn't mean much. He has also drawn strong interest from Alabama, Michigan State, and Ohio State. This will be his second visit to South Bend; he also visited campus in June, just before Irish Invasion.