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Irish Invasion Fallout

No sophomore slump for the Irish staff with this camp - they blew it out of the water. Let's take a look at what went down and what might go down soon.

BVG as Lou Brown: "I LOVE THIS [STUFF]!"
BVG as Lou Brown: "I LOVE THIS [STUFF]!"
Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

We haven't run the numbers, but just by the eyeball test it's immediately obvious that this year's Irish Invasion roster was bigger and shinier than last year's. The Irish staff did a great job of getting kids excited about the event and actually on campus, and the return on investment was immediate. Let's dive into the early returns to see the impact of Irish Invasion 2.0.


The biggest success story out of a camp is, of course, the kids who join the fold right away. Notre Dame added two talented and underrated players before the weekend was out in 2016 WR Kevin Stepherson and 2016 S Jalen Elliott. Elliott has excellent size (6'1"/185) and plus athleticism and is the son of two Virginia Tech alumni. They were with him on this visit, and he couldn't leave without committing - clearly, they are on board with their son's decision. Stepherson was unanimously tabbed as the most dominant player at the camp by the recruiting analysts, who all feel he's vastly underrated. He may well end up as the best receiver in this Irish class.

Next Men In

A number of players long linked to the Irish had a great experience and could be in the next wave of commitments. As always, contain your enthusiasm and watch actions first, but it wouldn't surprise us if any of these guys popped for the Irish between now and the start of the season. Studstill, Claypool, and Bockhorst re-tweeted the stuff you see here, while Perry tweeted that out himself. Johnson and Wright don't tweet much - don't read anything into the absence of tweets from them.

  • 2016 S Devin Studstill plays things close to the vest so it's hard to know for sure, but it's long been held by analysts that Notre Dame is his leader. His experience at the camp only solidified that status.

  • 2016 S Spencer Perry (Florida commit), who plans to go to law school, has a lot to think about. Teammate and Irish commit Tony Jones will no doubt help him. UPDATE: Perry decommitted from Florida last  night on Twitter. Connect the dots at your own risk - the last ND visit/immediate decommit didn't end up going our way, after all.

  • 2016 ATH Chase Claypool had the catch of the camp, a one-handed snag while being interfered with, and also loved everything about the university, on and off the field.

  • 2017 QB Hunter Johnson solidified his already-strong relationship with Mike Sanford.
  • 2017 TE Brock Wright and his parents loved everything they saw.
  • 2017 OG Matt Bockhorst will be on commit watch as soon he receives an offer.
2016 S Ikenna Okeke is perhaps notably absent from that list. He wants to visit Stanford before he decides anything; believe it or not, there might not be a spot for him at Notre Dame by the time he's ready to decide.

Positive Vibration

Good news got me all like...

Notre Dame made a big move with some other kids, too:
  • 2016 ATH/WR/S Ahmir Mitchell (#77 overall) technically didn't attend Irish Invasion - he visited over the weekend, not Friday for the camp, but we'll take it. He loved it.
  • 2016 ATH/WR Marquez Callaway (#92 overall) now intends to take an official visit in the fall. Mike Brey might do well to chat with him when he does.
  • 2016 DB Joejuan Williams (#182 overall) should also be back in-season.
  • 2017 ATH/CB Tyrell Ajian (#43 overall) said this was his favorite visit so far.
  • 2017 OT Jedrick Wills (#118 overall) raved about Harry Hiestand and the environment at Notre Dame.
  • 2017 OLB Vandarius Cowan (#167 overall) is still a long shot but based on this trip could plan a return visit.

Putting the Invasion in the Rearview

There are a lot of other bits and pieces that came out of camp - player evaluations, impressions of coaches, oohs and ahhs about the setting, etc. - but the upshot of it all was that the camp was a great event that made a big impression on most of the kids there. We didn't cover it here because a lot of it is found in premium content at the recruiting service websites, but it's worth noting at least at a high level that several kids specifically praised the work, acumen, and personalities of much-maligned Irish coaches Brian VanGorder and Mike Elston. Both have hit the trail hard, contrary to many presumptions out there, and have developed solid relationships with some really good prospects. And Mike Sanford has been doing work all over the country that should start to pay off soon. Stay tuned.