Welcome back to the One Foot Down recruiting Big Board for Fighting Irish football.
Entering the Field
Virginia Tech commit Troy Pride picked up an Irish offer since last we examined the secondary field. We're not adding him to the Big Board proper since he's committed elsewhere and seems to be solid, but he will probably take visits and it's a name to keep in mind.
Memphis product Donte Vaughn visited Notre Dame a couple of weeks ago and picked up an offer; the offer immediately moved Notre Dame into his top five. Vaughn could be a tough pull from SEC country, but he made it very clear that he likes Notre Dame and he loved his visit. So we'll see.
Irish In Top 5 For Donte' Vaughn http://t.co/KYrrsjTswE— Notre Dame (@notrdame_dp) June 19, 2015
Vaughn also becomes the fifth corner on this list that's 6'1" or taller - combine that with a safety recruiting strategy that predominantly is targeting athletes 6'2" or taller, and it's pretty clear that VanGorder likes him some big defensive backs. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
Carlos Becker, Eric Cuffee, and Joejuan Williams all attended Irish Invasion last weekend. Becker impressed with his physicality in one-one-one drills, showing the press coverage ability that VanGorder craves. He talked to Scout about his experience ($) and said he could possibly schedule an official for the fall.
Cuffee similarly showed a physical presence and fire; at one point, angered by being beaten by Chase Claypool, he made sure to put Claypool on the ground during the next rep. Claypool, if you haven't heard, is a big dude. Cuffee also tweeted one of my all-time favorite recruit-coach photo ops:
Me and @CoachBrianKelly pic.twitter.com/J5UOfNeB8P— WACO CUFFEE (@JaeRican27) June 18, 2015
Williams didn't work out, but got a lot of face time with Todd Lyght and Mike Elston and came away very impressed. He told Rivals that Notre Dame has a good shot to make his top five, which he's announcing next month. He also picked up an invitation to The Opening finals next month, so it's been a good week for him.
Top 40 prospect Kristian Fulton wants to commit somewhere before the end of the summer. He hasn't visited Notre Dame and doesn't plan to, so connect the dots there. LSU looks to be firmly in the lead for the Bayout State prospect.
If new Irish kicker Justin Yoon doesn't pan out, perhaps Damar Hamlin could be a viable fallback option. Oh, and he's a pretty good corner too... Current conventional wisdom has momentum trending towards Ohio State, but little information comes from Hamlin himself so who knows. If you're into overparsing, he did tweet out a top ten in "no particular order" at the beginning of the month that had Notre Dame at the top.
Elite prospect Mecole Hardman recently told Rivals he's planning to take an official visit to Notre Dame (semi-$). We'll see if it actually happens, but Hardman is saying the right things about wanting to get to campus. And Mom might be on our side! He'd be a tremendous and, at this point, unlikely pull from the South.
Jaylon Jones, former teammate of newly-minted Irish freshman Jalen Guyton, tweeted his top six a few weeks ago. Spoiler alert: Notre Dame isn't included.
Top 100 California talent David Long also tweeted a cut list recently, of ten schools, and Notre Dame was on this one. He's a high-academic kid who will probably be hard to pull away from Stanford, but VanGorder and Denbrock have been working personally on his recruitment and aren't likely to go down without a fight.
Tis the season for cut lists... Jared Mayden tweeted his top seven - points for originality - and, not surprisingly for a prospect the staff never gained traction with, Notre Dame isn't on this list either. It's a bit unusual in that Mayden is a top Texas kid who isn't even considering any of the Texas schools. Not exactly common. He'll announce at The Opening in a couple of weeks.
Trayvon Mullen hit the Sound Mind Sound Body camp in Detroit and talked to Scout about his recruitment. He says it's wide open, but Florida State and LSU are widely considered the leaders for his services.
Arizonan Byron Murphy just visited Washington and will visit USC again before the summer is out. His focus has pretty clearly been on the West Coast to this point and it looks like that's where he'll land.
Off the Board
No corner targets have committed to other schools since the last update.
Entering the Field
Californian Lamar Jackson picked up an Irish offer and has said he'll take an official visit to South Bend in the fall. Pulling Jackson away from California, more specifically away from Los Angeles, will be very difficult. He told Rivals that his favorite recruiter is UCLA assistant Demetrice Martin, which could give some insight into his leader.
Thomas Jones also earned an Irish offer recently; his recruitment has heated up since the spring started, picking up offers from South Carolina, Louisville, Georgia Tech, and Vandy in addition to the Irish. Scout caught up with him after Notre Dame offered and he talked about the importance of education and a family environment, which, you would think...
Chanse Sylvie is more in play than the typical Louisianan; he's Tarean Folston's cousin and the Notre Dame offer was definitely a big one for him. He told Scout that he's "ecstatic" about the Irish offer, although his recruitment is still pretty open.
Perhaps the biggest news here is that Spencer Perry re-entered the Big Board by decommitting from Florida after attending Irish Invasion last weekend. Momentum has swung wildly in favor of Notre Dame here.
I joined @TomLoy247 in putting in a @247CrystalBall forecast in favor of #NotreDame for safety Spencer Perry: http://t.co/SL26kniTap— Steve Wiltfong (@SWiltfong247) June 22, 2015
Elite safety Deontay Anderson doesn't have Notre Dame on the radar; his interest list is basically the SEC plus Texas, Texas A&M, and USC. Ole Miss has been gathering
cash steam with him lately.
Brandon Burton recently told Rivals that he could take an official visit to Notre Dame for the USC game. It sounds like his relationship with LaFleur kind of faded and Denbrock has done a decent job building it back up.
The staff had some very early traction with top 25 prospect Brandon Jones, but nothing more ever materialized and it seems the Irish are well off his radar now. Texas A&M is in the driver's seat here.
High-academic prospect Ikenna Okeke visited for Irish Invasion and loved it, but is willing to take a little bit of time to make a decision. He wants to visit Stanford before closing things down; whenever that happens and whatever his feelings for the Cardinal are afterward, the staff might not have room for him if he wants to be Irish.
CJ Pollard told 247 that he wants to commit at The Opening in a few weeks and wants to squeeze in unofficial visits to Oregon, Michigan, and Notre Dame before that. He's at Oregon today - we'll see if he makes it to the Midwest. Of course, no visit, no commitment.
Penn State legacy Andrew Pryts recently visited Notre Dame and was blown away - but will it be enough to overcome Ohio State or an impending trip to Stanford? Interestingly, Steve Wiltfong and Tom Loy at 247 put in conflicting crystal ball predictions within a day of each other - Wiltfong for the Buckeyes, Loy for the Irish. This is very much a toss-up.
Devin Studstill is another of the many talented players who attended Irish Invasion. He loved the visit, perhaps enough to commit in the coming weeks. The staff absolutely loves him and will find a way to take him if they have to.
Californian Chacho Ulloa visited for Irish Invasion and enjoyed it just as much as he did Junior Day weekend back in March. Like Pryts, though, he wants to visit Stanford before making a decision.
Nigel Warrior doesn't have Notre Dame in his top ten or his projected official visit list, and that doesn't look to be changing anytime soon. The smart money at this point would probably be on Warrior staying in the South.
Off the Board
Top 30 prospect Eric Monroe committed to LSU, in a minor upset over the local Texas schools.
Craig Watts, good friend of one Tony Jones Jr., committed to Wisconsin.