A month ago, there was much wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth at the relatively thin junior day roster. Well, not anymore - since all the coaching changes were finalized, the Irish recruiting machine has quite unmistakably shifted to ludicrous speed. We're pretty dedicated recruitniks here at OFD, and even we've had a tough time keeping up with all the new offers that have gone out and all the prospects who have scheduled visits for the spring.
our WAGs are sick of hearing us talk about it we're just that generous, we've compiled this cheat sheet as a public service to all of you so you can familiarize yourself with which prospects will be coming into town for the March 21st junior day and where Notre Dame might stand with each of them. We'll also touch on some of the higher-profile guys who have recently scheduled or expressed an intent to schedule an unofficial visit over the next few months.
The Junior Day Roster
Keep in mind that, as with any recruiting event at any school, this list is tentative. It's comprised of kids who said they would make it, which is as much of a guarantee of them actually being there as, well, anything your kids tell you is a guarantee about what they're actually doing. Not that your kids would ever be anything other than completely forthcoming, of course; they're little angels. The other guys' kids, we mean.
Anyway, without further ado, the visitor list sorted by 247 Composite ranking - prospects are listed with name, position, overall ranking/position ranking, hometown, and recruiting status:
Scratch updates: With a winter storm warning in effect in New Jersey, the three Garden State prospects - Ahmir Mitchell, Brad Hawkins, and Ron Johnson - will look to reschedule. Josh King is also a scratch due to some kind of national commitment for wrestling. Amir Rasul also will not make it, not sure why but he is a Miami commit and he's looking at other Florida schools too so he may be cooling on the idea of a far-away school. Tuf Borland is out as well; reading between the lines, it seems like his interest is elsewhere. Isaiah Pryor has also decided to attend a Rivals camp at home this weekend instead, but with his father's connection to Bob Elliott I expect we'll get a visit at some point.
Tommy Kraemer, OT, #25/#3, Cincinnati, OH, committed
Urban Meyer made a run at Kraemer shortly after signing day; while Kraemer let Meyer have an in-home visit, he politely rebuffed the three-time national champion and looks about as solid to the Irish as a kid could be. He'll work hard as a recruiter during the event.
Josh King, SDE, #51/#4, Darien, IL, offered
King is the kind of elite defensive end talent Notre Dame has so much trouble getting - the fact that we're trying to pull him from our backyard instead of Florida or Alabama or California makes it seem even more imperative to land him. This will likely be an OSU-ND battle for a long time. Numbers at OSU may help ND.
Dwayne Haskins, pro-style QB, #63/#5, Potomac, MD, offered
The staff has been extremely deliberate in their 2016 quarterback recruiting as they can afford to be very picky; that Haskins has an offer should tell you what the staff thinks of him. The Irish will most likely battle hometown Maryland and Ohio State for Haskins; Maryland might hold the early lead.
Ahmir Mitchell, ATH, #88/#6, Egg Harbor, NJ, offered
Notre Dame is recruiting Mitchell as a wide receiver; with size, speed, and agility, it's easy to see why. Per Mitchell's own comments the Irish are running third behind Rutgers and Ohio State, but his first visit to South Bend could change that. Ahmir is good friends with 2016 Camden Catholic (NJ) prospects Brad Hawkins and Ron Johnson, who will also be in for Junior Day.
Auston Robertson, WDE, #107/#8, Fort Wayne, IN, offered
Robertson is definitely a project at defensive end, but not a guy you would turn away if you have space. Ohio State seemed to be the early leader but has faded more recently, perhaps due to their group of elite and/or imminent defensive end commitments; currently this looks like a Michigan State-Notre Dame battle with Michigan State in the lead.
Donnie Corley, WR, #108/#20, Detroit, MI, offered
Corley is one of the top receivers on the coaching staff's wish list. While the Irish haven't traditionally done very well in Detroit - in the last 40 years, only Rodney Culver, Jerome Bettis, Herbert Gibson, Charlie Stafford, Ronald Talley, and David Grimes have come out of Detroit proper to play at Notre Dame - Corley's interest is very real. Once again, the Irish are going up against Ohio State and Michigan State.
Austin Mack, WR, #129/#28, Fort Wayne, IN, offered
The staff obviously likes Mack enough to have offered, but they also seem to have some other guys rated higher and are unlikely to push aggressively at this point or to curse their rotten luck if he commits to his presumed leader, Ohio State. Mack has been visiting a lot of schools, but it would still be a surprise if he ends up somewhere other than Columbus.
Damar Hamlin, CB, #138/#12, Pittsburgh, PA, offered
Hamlin's recruitment is wide open and has heated up lately as he has picked up offers from Miami, Clemson, Auburn, and Stanford in the last couple of weeks. The Irish are squarely in the game here; Hamlin has spoken very positively about Notre Dame and has heard good things from his friend, 2017 prospect Paris Ford, who happens to be Darrin Walls's brother.
Brad Hawkins, WR, #161/#33, Camden, NJ, offered
Physically Hawkins resembles DaVaris Daniels - no one trait that screams "gamebreaker," but a good blend of plus factors that could make him a very effective weapon at the next level. Hawkins has drawn interest from around the country and it's hard to get a read on who might lead for his services.
Michael Jordan, OT, #180/#18, Canton, MI, offered
No, that Mike isn't coming out of retirement again. This Mike, though, is a very well-regarded prospect that - stop me if you've heard this one - Notre Dame will battle Ohio State and Michigan State for. And Michigan. Michigan's campus is only about a half hour from his home, but Jordan is an upstanding citizen anyway.
Elijah Holyfield, RB, #203/#11, Atlanta, GA, offered
By all accounts, Evander's son is the top running back on the staff's list, regardless of what the recruiting rankings say. The former pro athlete father factor could play in our favor, as it has so many times before, although Auburn may be tough to beat. Could an Irish sideline photo really include David Robinson, Torii Hunter, Bon Jovi, and Evander Holyfield?
Khalid Kareem, SDE, #227/#14, Farmington, MI, offered
Kareem is another Michigan State target, but the Irish may be in the driver's seat here - especially after the addition of Keith Gilmore, who was recruiting Khalid for North Carolina and made an impression on the young man and his family. It would not be surprising to see Notre Dame emerge as his leader after junior day.
Brandon Peters, pro-style QB, #272/#10, Avon, IN, not offered
Peters seems to be a fallback option in this class - the Irish have not been shy about going after other signal callers, even tossing out a few new offers since Mike Sanford officially joined the staff, but Peters is still waiting for his. There's no clear indication of when he might get an offer, nor is there any clear sign that he's sitting by the phone. Junior Day could be a fork in the road here.
Ron Johnson, WDE, #273/#17, Camden, NJ, offered
The teammate of fellow Junior Day visitor WR Brad Hawkins picked up a Notre Dame offer in late January and scheduled his visit shortly after. Johnson has hit it off with Scott Booker and has real interest in the Irish, although he is being pursued by a lot of top schools and has no interest in deciding soon. Johnson, Hawkins, and friend Ahmir Mitchell could be a package deal.
Tuf Borland, OLB, #277/#21, Bolingbrook, IL, not offered
I mean... A linebacker named Tuf? What else does he realistically need to do to get an offer? Wisconsin leads for Borland right now, but Notre Dame would get a serious look if they offer. Time may be running out, though.
Chris Evans, APB, #295/#5, Indianapolis, IN, not offered
Evans attends Ben Davis, which some of you might recognize as Asmar Bilal's high school. While the staff likes Evans, they seem to have other running back prospects rated higher. Evans just got an offer from Michigan State in February and they are now his presumed leader.
Tylin Oden, QB, #297/#12, Columbia, TN, not offered
You want more high school trivia? Oden plays for David Wolke's alma mater, Smyrna. Quarterback pipeline! The coaches will likely decide after meeting Oden face-to-face if they want to make an offer. Oden recently named Louisville his leader after attending their junior day a couple of weeks ago.
Dylan Singleton, CB, #301/#29, Lawerenceville, GA, not offered
Singleton is yet another prospect that the staff could offer this weekend. The Irish have some serious competition here in Auburn, Georgia, South Carolina, and Ohio State; Auburn has made an early impression and could be tough to beat.
Tony Jones Jr., RB, #366/#25, Bradenton, FL, offered
If we had to pick one guy to put on commitment watch this weekend, it would be Tony Jones. His primary recruiter is fellow Floridian Autry Denson and his secondary recruiter is Mike Denbrock; his father Tony Sr. played for Denbrock at Grand Valley State and Buffalo (in the Arena Football League). We'll hold off on a deeper analysis for a commitment post, if in fact we need one at some point, but Jones would be a great addition to the class. And he goes to IMG Academy, which is essentially a football prep school and not a place that we've been able to break into thus far.
Naquan Jones, DT, #415/#29, Evanston, IL, not offered
Jones has 14 offers, 8 of which he has picked up since December 30th - Purdue, Penn State, Pitt, Kentucky, South Carolina, Michigan, Ohio State, and Nebraska. He could earn his Notre Dame offer on this visit, but Michigan and Ohio State definitely got his attention with their offers and the Irish may be playing from behind a bit. It's still very early, though.
Note: You may have heard that the Irish are recruiting Jarron Jones's brother - that's Jamir Jones, a LB/DE prospect out of Rochester, NY, not Naquan. Just in case you were wondering.
Cameron Brown, OLB, #439/#32, Potomac, MD, offered
Brown is listed as an outside linebacker but has the potential to grow into a defensive end - his listed height and weight range from 6'4" and 200 to 6'6" and 223, and he looks lanky. His recruitment has been heating up during the new year; would Notre Dame's December offer earn some brownie points? Things look wide open as of right now.
Amir Rasul, RB, #456/#33, Miami, FL, offered/committed to Miami
Rasul is one of the fastest prospects in the nation this year. He had started to build a relationship with Tony Alford and still has some interest in Notre Dame despite Alford's departure, but he'll probably be a very tough pull now. There are even conflicting reports over whether he'll actually be on campus this weekend. Most likely he won't end up too far from home.
Noah Burks, OLB, #556/#42, Carmel, IN, not offered
Burks is an intriguing prospect. One of the top players in the Hoosier State this year, he has drawn interest from several major programs but no offers yet. Unless you count Illinois, which, seriously... In addition to the Irish, Michigan, Northwestern, Maryland, and Vanderbilt have kicked the tires without an offer.
Kenney Lyke, S, #569/#39, Palatine, IL, not offered
The market for Lyke is heating up, with Ohio State, Penn State, and Michigan State gaining speed recently. The strong safety prospect has said that his mother loves Notre Dame. OFD trivia: He plays for the same high school, Fremd, that my sophomore year roommate did. That guy was a punter/defensive end, which reminds me that I love high school ball.
Julian Love, CB, #583/#36, La Grange Park, IL, not offered
If Love had an offer already, he would be on commitment watch this weekend. In fact, he might still be if he gets that offer on his visit - he has made no secret of Notre Dame being his dream school and the offer he most wants to get. His rankings don't shine, but those who have seen him in person say the kid is a special talent.
AJ Epenesa, SDE, #2/#1, Edwardsville, IL, offered
Yes, you read that ranking right. AJ's father Eppy played linebacker at Iowa during the Hayden Fry era - his defensive coordinator was Bob Elliott and his strength coach was Paul Longo. Eppy has said that he loves those guys and there's a built-in trust level, but it's fully AJ's decision. The Irish will have a brawl with every elite program in the country, but they look to be in pretty good shape here.
Isaiah Pryor, S, #70/#5, Lawrenceville, GA, not offered
Pryor will make the trip with Archer teammate Dylan Singleton and will probably earn an offer for his trouble. The staff has been very stingy with 2017 offers so far, so it's fair to assume that if an offer goes out to a 2017 kid now, they really like him. A lot of other people really like Pryor too, of course. Also, Pryor's father was coached by Bob Elliott at Iowa, and still keeps in touch with him. That guy...
Corey Malone-Hatcher, WDE, #111/#4, Saint Joseph, MI, not offered
Malone-Hatcher will make about his eleventieth trip to Notre Dame - well, really his fourth starting with Irish Invasion last year, but it feels like more. Keith Gilmore will look to kick off their relationship, possibly in style with an offer. Keep in mind that Gilmore himself is a Michigan native and has shown that he connects very well with kids from his home state - like Donnie Corley, Khalid Kareem, and Michael Jordan.
Ambry Thomas, CB, NR/NR, Detroit, MI, not offered
Speaking of Corley, his teammate Thomas will be in town as well this weekend. Thomas has only a handful of mid-level offers at this point but is drawing real interest from top-level programs, such as Notre Dame, Michigan, and Michigan State. He's not just along for the ride - the staff will definitely evaluate him as a potential offer.
2016 DT Rashan Gary (#1 overall/#1 position) will reportedly visit Notre Dame over the summer with his mother, who really likes Notre Dame, and a few other families. Gary's former coach at Paramus Catholic, Chris Partridge, was just hired at Michigan, but Gary was only there for about a year under Partridge and his recruitment seems pretty open. Not surprisingly, the Irish will be up against the bluest of the blue bloods here, but it's worth every shot they can take. The unofficial visit is enormously huge news - if it's followed by an official in the fall, you can safely consider the Irish to be legitimately in the running.
2016 OLB Caleb Kelly (#15/#3) will visit Notre Dame in June after putting the Irish in his top ten list recently. Kelly is a Fresno kid who is coached by Tony Perry, the guy who keeps feeding kids to Oklahoma - and in fact Kelly visited Oklahoma last year and will visit again in April. Still, his Notre Dame visit is huge coup for the staff, and they'll get their chance to make an impression.
2016 OT Liam Eichenberg (#82/#11) is down to Ohio State and Notre Dame, and will make one more visit to each in April with his family before making a decision. Nothing is certain, but the Irish are in good shape here and have a real chance to lock down two of the top tackles in the 2016 class.
2016 OLB Curtis Robinson (#109/#10) shares a high school alma mater with Joe Schmidt, LA's Mater Dei, and may eventually share a collegiate alma mater as well. He visited just before Junior Day. Robinson's mother is a UCLA professor, but his interest in Notre Dame - and Stanford, who he'll visit in April - is sincere.
2017 pro-style QB and Indiana native Hunter Johnson (#9 overall/#1 position) just finished an unofficial visit with his family and finally got the Notre Dame offer he had been waiting for. Mike Sanford made a huge impression on Hunter and his family, and Notre Dame might have made a big move. Johnson might not go past this summer without deciding on a school.