If you happen to frequent any Notre Dame message boards, then chances are you have seen a thread or two on Hunter Johnson. There has pretty much been a thread or two about Hunter Johnson for way too long now.
If you aren't on any Notre Dame message boards and don't know who Johnson is, here's a quick rundown of who he is and why he is so talked about by Notre Dame fans.
Johnson is a quarterback from Brownsburg, Indiana, so he is a local recruit for Notre Dame. He's much more than a talented local recruit, though. He is considered the top quarterback recruit in the nation currently for 2017 recruiting cycle. His name has been known to Notre Dame fans since last year's Irish Invasion and since then has been a priority recruit for Brian Kelly and his staff.
Enough of a priority that the Irish football program look like they may be willing to pass on a 2016 quarterback in order to have more of a clear path for Johnson and they are hoping that it would hopefully be one more thing to entice him to commit. He is the not at the top of the board for 2017 quarterback recruiting. He is the board.
His name has been mentioned so often by Notre Dame recruiting sites that people are getting anxious that he hasn't committed yet. I mean, what is he waiting for? (Maybe he's waiting to be a junior in high school? That's just speculation on my part, but it seems like that could be a reason.)
Johnson recently took a visit to Tennessee and he had some very positive things to say about the school and trip. There's even been some buzz that Tennessee might be his leader and that has people even more worried because they've been wondering why he hasn't committed to play at Notre Dame yet.
This is usually where I'd write, "I understand why some are freaking out, but...". I can't do that in this case, though. There is just no reason anyone should be get too down about a 2017 quarterback recruit choosing another school, even if that quarterback is the top ranked quarterback for his year.
He's been talked about for so long, you'd think he was going to play college football this season. But he's not. He's not even close. In fact, he is two years away from even taking a snap in pre-season camp. And probably a lot longer than that from taking a snap in an actual college football game. He still has two full years of high school football!
There is so much that can change in that two years. Even if we assume that Johnson stays the top quarterback prospect for 2017 during that time, there are several other talented kids that Notre Dame can target immediately. There are also so many other players that could emerge during this fall. Several quarterbacks make huge leaps from their sophomore to junior years that I almost feel that it isn't worth it to target anyone before that unless it's a player who is the caliber of Johnson. Some top quarterback recruits don't even get the chance to start at their high school until their junior year.
Considering how highly the Notre Dame coaching staff thinks of Johnson as a player, of course I hope he chooses Notre Dame and doesn't go elsewhere. If he were to choose Tennessee or any other school any time soon, though, it wouldn't be the end of the world for quarterback recruiting.
Far from it, actually. There will be plenty of other quarterbacks to potentially offer if that were to happen. Quite a few of them could be players that we don't even know about yet.
Other recruiting observations
- Since we're already on the topic of recruits who won't play college football for at least a couple of years, this is probably a pretty good time to mention a few players that people should know about that have connections to Notre Dame. Safety Paris Ford is a top 100 recruit in 2017 and is also former Irish cornerback Darrin Walls' brother. Ford is visiting campus tomorrow.
Notre Dame Here We Come @HamlinIsland— Paris Ford1⃣ (@DiddyBop1_) July 30, 2015
He's visiting with 2016 cornerback Damar Hamlin, who is a big time player and likely the top corner on Notre Dame's board.
247Sports came out with a top 100 for the class of 2018 this week, which is way too early for any ranking like that in my opinion. Considering these guys haven't played a down as sophomores in high school yet, it's a little much. Forget about that part for a moment and here's two names to know that were on their list that have brothers on the 2015 team. Defensive tackle PJ Mustipher is backup center Sam Mustipher's brother. Wide receiver Amon-ra St. Brown already has a Notre Dame offer and is Equanimeous St. Brown's brother. This also gives me a reason to bring up Equanimeous' other brother, Osiris, who is also a top 100 recruit in 2017.
The fact that Julian Okwara (Romeo's brother) and Jamir Jones (Jarron's brother) are committed in the 2016 class hopefully bodes well for all of the above younger brothers to end up Irish.
- If you have an Irish Sports Daily subscription, you can read my take on why "fit" is just as important as talent in recruiting ($).
- Every recruit that visits Notre Dame should play "Irish Jenga"
My staff unanimously decided to add a game to the players' lounge this year. It's called Irish Jenga. pic.twitter.com/ctv5h3ZLT2— Brian Kelly (@CoachBrianKelly) July 30, 2015