Whenever a recruit that has an offer from Notre Dame that hails from the midwest chooses another school, there is always disappointment that surrounds the next couple of days for Irish fans.
"I mean, this our backyard! We're supposed to own the midwest!"
That disappointment doesn't tend to last too long, though, because Notre Dame has never had to just rely on the midwest for recruiting. They recruit nationally and that means if a player is considered elite and he lives in anywhere in America (even Canada!), then the Irish could be an option for them.
So when there is an event like The Opening that features the top prospects from around the nation (and Canada!), then there will be a ton of Notre Dame recruiting targets that are going to be involved. This year is no exception. There are three Notre Dame commits and several others who have offers, have visited, or plan on visiting in the future.
I'm going to be there to cover it and I'll be keeping a close eye on all of them this week (it kicks off on Wednesday and finishes up on Friday). Here's a rundown of all the names to remember at The Opening 2015.
Notre Dame commits
Offensive tackle Tommy Kraemer
The first commit of the 2016 recruiting class is also the highest rated player in this class for the Irish out of their eleven current commits. He is just under being a composite 5 star player right now, but could easily jump back up into that range with a good camp against some very good pass rushers this week.
Offensive guard commit Parker Boudreaux
The newest commit is one the nastiest guard prospects in the nation. This kid gets after it. The good news? The linemen wear pads this week and he doesn't have to play patty cake with the defensive linemen. The could be good or bad news? He is going to be put to the test this week when facing several top defensive tackles like Rashan Gary, Dexter Lawrence, and Ed Oliver. Almost anyone would struggle against the players he'll have to face so if he shows out, then that will be pretty encouraging about his prospects to be ready sooner when he gets to South Bend.
Running back Tony Jones Jr.
These camps that are so heavy on the 7 on 7 competition are not always kind to running backs and Jones would be able to shine a lot more if he got to run between the tackles rather than flare out to catch passes in the flat. I'm still very interested to see him go to work against some athletic linebackers who have to cover him.
Recruits who were at Irish Invasion
Wide receiver Chase Claypool
Claypool is one of the most intriguing prospects at the entire camp because of his size (6'5" 215 with room to get bigger) and his great athleticism. Some think he may grow into another position and ultimately move to linebacker. He'll get to prove that he's an elite receiver prospect at this camp going against some bigger defensive backs that he hasn't had to face before. He is making his commitment at the event on July 9th or 10th and the Irish are in a really good spot to land him.
Defensive back JoeJuan Williams
With commitments from Jalen Elliott and Spencer Perry, Williams didn't seem to get talked about as much coming out of Invasion. He is tall, long, and can play press coverage. I wouldn't be surprised to see him play corner at the college level even though most think he is a safety.
Cornerback Eric Cuffee
Cuffee was another big name defensive back that made it out to South Bend recently. It will be a tough battle to land him as he has offers from all the big dogs in Texas and is planning on visiting a bunch of SEC schools as well. I'll have a better idea of his interest in Notre Dame after the camp and how he stacks up against the best in the nation as well.
Wide receiver Javon McKinley
Things are looking pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty good for the Irish with McKinley right now. USC appears to be filling up at receiver and that means he is probably going to be leaving the state of California. With two visits to South Bend already, hopefully the third is the charm when he returns for an official visit in the fall.
I personally think that what McKinley does best is gain yards after the catch and that is probably not great for touch football (7 on 7). I still expect that he will be one of the best receivers at the entire event.
Notre Dame is not out of it, but....
Cornerback Damar Hamlin
Hamlin has visited, but seems to be trending elsewhere as of now. He is an outstanding all around corner and the coaches obviously hope they can get him back again to campus.
Have yet to visit campus, but plan to (hopefully)
Linebacker Caleb Kelly
When Kelly had to cancel his Irish Invasion visit, everyone shrugged their shoulders and said, "Fresno." Now that he has re-scheduled a trip for later this month, everyone started to get their hopes up again. He could end up being the top linebacker the entire camp this week.
Defensive end Oluwole Betiku
It's been a series of swings and misses for Notre Dame at defensive end this cycle and Betiku could end up being the same. He does have ND in his top six, though, and that could mean an official visit. Others have fallen in love with ND after one visit before so we'll just have to see what happens.
Athlete Jordan Fuller
There has been a lot of talk about Fuller visiting, but nothing yet. This kid could play safety, but he also might be a receiver. There seems to be sincere interest on his part.
Athlete Brandon Burton
Another potential safety prospect that can play wide receiver. He's a bit raw in terms of technique as a defensive back, but he can close in a hurry. The Irish made his top seven.
Linebacker Jonathan Jones
This is the inside linebacker on Notre Dame's board that I really hope ends up Irish. I love the way he attacks and he has very good speed. I'm excited to see how he plays in coverage. He has set an official visit for the fall.
Cornerback David Long
He keeps mentioning Notre Dame even though the buzz is that Stanford leads for him. I think he is one of the top cover corners in this class and I expect him to prove it this week.
Others with Irish offers that I'm not sure where the Irish stand
Last year Dexter Williams ended up being the second running back commitment in the class. Last year Dexter Williams attended The Opening and there was zero talk of him and Notre Dame. The same could have been said for Brandon Wimbush as well. He was not on the radar and all of a sudden he filled the quarterback void for the 2015 class.
Here's a list of names of recruits who more than likely won't end up signing with ND, but you never know and because of that I'll be keeping an eye on them:
Linebacker Dontavious Jackson, linebacker Aaron Hansford, defensive lineman Janarius Robinson, defensive lineman Brian Burns, linebacker Daelin Hayes, linebacker Jeffrey McCulloch, athlete Demetris Robertson, wide receiver Tyler Vaughns, quarterback Nick Starkel, linebacker Rahshaun Smith, linebacker Devin Bush Jr., defensive lineman McTelvin Agim, athlete Trevon Sidney, cornerback Jack Jones