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2015 Notre Dame Recruiting Big Board: Offense

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Just over a month until National Signing Day.

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Welcome back the OFD Recruiting Big Board for January 6, 2015.

Quarterback
Score Player State Ht/Wt. Temperature 1* 2* 3* 4* 5*
.842 Jack Beneventi IL 6-6/185 Cold
.839 Jayru Campbell MI 6-3/190 Cold

Notre Dame commit (NJ) Brandon Wimbush .970 was down in Florida late last week participating in the the Under Armour All-American Game and the several practices that precede the event. As you would expect, Wimbush was praised for his talent during the week with several people commenting on his impressive arm strength.

We'll see if Wimbush can move up any more up the national rankings following the all-star games.

Running Back
Score Player State Ht/Wt. Temperature 1* 2* 3* 4* 5*
.878 Tyreik Gray TX 5-11/187 Cold
.985 Damien Harris KY 5-11/205 Cold
.987 Soso Jamabo TX 6-3/210 Mild
.926 Kirk Merritt LA 5-11/206 Cold
.878 Ke'Shawn Vaughn TN 5-10/210 Mild
.957 Dexter Williams FL 6-0/192 Mild

A pair of running back commits came off the board over the weekend most damaging for Notre Dame being (TX) Ronald Jones II .958 who chose USC over the Irish at the Under Armour Game. His recruitment had been trending towards the Trojans for a few weeks but it still stings with the need at this position.

Arizona State had a big week in recruiting starting with (AZ) Paul Lucas .880 staying in-state while choosing the Sun Devils. That gives Todd Graham the No. 4 player in the state of Arizona and another offensive weapon to unleash on the Pac-12.

Some good news for Notre Dame happened when Dexter Williams left Miami's class on January 2nd. He was originally scheduled to be an early enrollee but is no longer sticking to those plans.

The three teams in the mix for Williams appear to be Louisville, Notre Dame, and Florida. Despite the Cardinals currently having 6 Composite running backs already a part of their 2015 class there are some indications that Louisville may lead. However, Williams has already taken an official visit to Louisville which leaves the opportunity for Notre Dame and Florida to make big impressions after the dead period ends in the middle of January. Per an update last night, Dexter is visiting South Bend next weekend.

Williams plans on deciding very close to, if not directly on, National Signing Day.

The Irish are still pursuing Ke'Shawn Vaughn and have turned up the heat since Jones committed to USC. Notre Dame will be receiving an official visit from Vaughn likely immediately following the dead period. He's also visiting Illinois and very interested in Purdue, as well.

Vaughn was named the Gatorade Tennessee Player of the Year and USA Today Second Team All-American in recent days.

Many months ago Notre Dame was showing some interest in (then) USF verbal (FL) Taran Higdon .871 who left the Bulls in mid-October and committed to Iowa a couple of weeks later. Over the weekend there was a brief report that he'd be visiting Notre Dame but that appears to be incorrect.

Soso Jamabo insists that he is not a UCLA lock, although that's the feeling among many in the recruiting business. During the Under Armour practices he mentioned how much Notre Dame wants him but he's still looking to take two more official visits out of a group of Texas, Texas A&M, Arizona State, and Baylor.

Jamabo still won't set an announcement date but at this point it's pretty clear he'll be taking this right up to National Signing Day. Notre Dame would love to save a spot for him but it will get increasingly more difficult with the major need to add another body at running back.

Athlete
Score Player State Ht/Wt. Temperature 1* 2* 3* 4* 5*
.904 Jordan Cronkrite FL 5-11/196 Mild
.954 Donte Jackson LA 5-11/175 Cold
.852 Nathan Meadors CA 6-1/194 Cold

Two more athletes came off the board over the all-star weekend. First up, the Texas Longhorns picked up (FL) Tim Irvin .899 as the hiring of Charlie Strong is starting to reach out beyond the borders of the Lone Star State.

Texas is expecting Irvin to play nickel corner for them as a freshman.

Todd Graham's club picked up another key recruit in (CA) Stanley Norman .948 who pledged at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.

Jordan Cronkrite has returned home from the U.S. Army Game and is being pursued by the Irish as a running back recruit. He looks to be narrowing things down to West Virginia, Louisville, and Notre Dame with a few others such as Nebraska, Florida, and Wisconsin still in the mix.

He has already taken official visits to West Virginia (Oct. 31) and Notre Dame (Dec. 12) and is scheduled to see Louisville in two and a half weeks. Another trip or two to the others schools in the mix has not been ruled out yet.

Wide Receiver
Score Player State Ht/Wt. Temperature 1* 2* 3* 4* 5*
.933 Cordell Broadus NV 6-2/195 Cold
.937 Equanimeous St. Brown CA 6-5/205 Hot
.838 Gary Jennings VA 6-2/190 Cold
.982 Damarkus Lodge AZ 6-2/190 Cold
.907 Ryan Newsome TX 5-8/168 Cold

Several players came off the Big Board in recent days. Notre Dame suffered another expected recruiting loss as (CA) Ykili Ross .947 committed to USC at his all-star game.

During the entire process Ross had been listed in the Composite rankings as a wide receiver although he was being recruited as a defensive back by most schools. Fittingly enough, since our last update he was moved to corner in the rankings but we kept him with this offensive update today.

Very quietly (MD) Lawrence Cager .888 had one of the weirdest recruitments of the past few months. He was thought to be an Ohio State lean with Notre Dame in the mix. Then his visit to Notre Dame was cancelled, the Buckeyes did not make his top five, and Alabama or Virginia Tech became the presumed new leaders. Cager wrapped all of this up by committing to Miami without even visiting.

Cager will be visiting Miami later this month but you can guess this one might not be completely over right now.

LSU may have lost their bowl game to Notre Dame but they locked down New Orleans 5-star product (LA) Tyron Johnson .988 and won the battle for the country's second best receiver.

As we surmised in previous Big Board installments it didn't appear that Equanimeous St. Brown would be the player rumored to verbal to Notre Dame at the Under Armour Game. However, the experts are still very confident he'll end up in South Bend eventually.

We'll keep an eye on St. Brown and if he visits any of Washington State, Stanford, UCLA, or USC. He's still only taken official visits to Notre Dame and Utah. That Rivals update above says his parents favor Stanford, but St. Brown isn't sold on the Cardinal and another source says he still favors Notre Dame.

Don't forget about athlete Gary Jennings who is still in the mix with Notre Dame.

As we mentioned in our last offensive update Jennings will be making official visit to Virginia and West Virginia later this month but now the Notre Dame coaching staff has been talking to him about playing receiver instead of safety.

Tight End
Score Player State Ht/Wt. Temperature 1* 2* 3* 4* 5*
.959 Chris Clark CT 6-6/247 Cold

The board got one body smaller when (FL) Devonaire Clarington .924 added to Texas' recruiting haul with a verbal to the Longhorns at the U.S. Army game.

This leaves Chris Clark as the lone uncommitted tight end left with a Notre Dame offer and while he will not be picking the Irish his decision may impact Brian Kelly & Co.

He was committed to North Carolina for about a month in early 2014 then joined Michigan's class in late June before leaving the Wolverines after Brady Hoke was fired. Now, with Jim Harbaugh hired in Ann Arbor it appears Clark may want back in. He'll be visiting Michigan for an official first and then taking one to UCLA.

If Clark picks UCLA that may make it an easy choice for (NV) Aliz'e Jones .972 to switch his commitment from UCLA to Notre Dame, as most experts are predicting.

During the U.S. Army All-American Game practices Jones was spending plenty of time with the Notre Dame commits furthering the notion that he's leaning heavily towards the Irish.

Aliz'e will be taking a visit to UCLA when the dead period ends which will be followed up by an in-home visit by Brian Kelly. The Bruins head coach Jim Mora used his in-home visit following Jones' official visit to Notre Dame back in December.

Offensive Line
Score Player State Ht/Wt. Temperature 1* 2* 3* 4* 5*
.999 Martez Ivey FL 6-6/270 Cold
.903 Kendrick Norton FL 6-3/305 Cold

The offensive line board continues to dwindle down to just a couple prospects left as (CA) Zach Robertston .889 decided to join Arizona State two Monday's ago. That gives ASU 3 out of their top 6 recruits all within the past couple weeks.

While both Irish commits (ID) Tristen Hoge .956 and (LA) Jerry Tillery .930 participated in the U.S. Army Game the big news for the latter prospect is that he'll be moving to defense when he arrives at Notre Dame as an early enrollee next weekend.

The story from the South Bend Tribune brings the meat of the subject:

The 6-foot-6, 315-pound Tillery this week confirmed the persistent whispers and message-board fodder that he'll flip to defense and play on the Irish defensive line.

"That's what they need at Notre Dame," the Shreveport, La., product told Andrew Lopez of the New Orleans Times-Picayune. "And I'm going to go and fill it."

Tillery is rated as the 11th-best offensive tackle prospect in the nation by Rivals.com, and No. 7 by 247Sports.

On defense for Evangel Christian Academy, Tillery recorded 93 tackles, 15 tackles for loss and seven sacks this past season.

"I haven't seen him play much there," said 247Sports director of recruiting Steve Wiltfong after taking in the West team's 39-36 victory over the East in the U.S. Army game.

"It sounds like the coaching staff has some confidence to that he has a chance to crack the rotation faster on defense. But down here, he certainly proved that he's capable of being a big-time offensive tackle at Notre Dame - or anywhere."

Count me as one of those who believes Tillery fits better on the offensive line but we're seeing what happens when the offensive line depth chart is completely stacked. There just isn't much room to get on the field early right now.