The Notre Dame Fighting Irish need a pair of blue-chip running backs this recruiting cycle, and early on, it was looking really, really good. The departure of running backs coach, Autry Denson, and the addition of Lance Taylor was supposed to finally mean that the Irish could start bringing in elite back once again.
Chris Tyree, a 5-Star back from Virginia is one of those elite players. For the past few months, Irish fans have received a steady diet of “good vibes” regarding Tyree’s recruitment, and after a few unofficial visits, many thought Tyree would commit to the Irish during his official visit in June.
Things have changed quite a bit.
Tyree took an official visit to see the Oklahoma Sooners this past weekend, and there are many reports that the dynamic speedster was blown away, and would cancel his official visit to Notre Dame. Translation: Oklahoma just shot to the top of his list and is his likely school of choice when he decides to make a commitment.
It seems as if Notre Dame was able to calm Tyree down a bit, and he could still very well visit Notre Dame in June. Still... this isn’t good news for the Irish and their recruiting efforts. If the Irish were to lose a 5-Star from Virginia (not Texas or Fresno) to Oklahoma — a player that they were in the lead for, it would mean that the results we were hoping to see in regards to running back recruiting are still out of reach.
As I said, the Irish are looking to add two backs this cycle — a speed back and a power back (for easy clarification). Obviously Tyree falls into that speed back category, so let’s take a quick look at some other options.
The Irish are high on the lists of two backs in particular, and both hail from the great state of Ohio.
Both Drennen and McClain are being heavily recruited by three other schools: the Ohio State Buckeyes, Michigan Wolverines, and Kentucky Wildcats. While Drennen has a bit more size, McClain has a bit more sizzle. Of the two, Notre Dame appears to be in better shape with McClain than Drennen — who goes to the same high school (Dublin Coffman) that Irish legend Brady Quinn came from in 2003.
As I write this, Irish Illustrated’s Tom Loy published an update on the Chris Tyree situation. Although the Sooners do indeed lead at the moment, Tyree states that he will still make his official visit to Notre Dame on June 21 and is keeping the door open for the Irish to “wow” him once again. If the Irish are unable to do just that, then they will need to continue to put the pressure on McClain and Drennen.
This wasn’t going to be easy — you should know that. After several years of subpar running back recruiting, the addition of Lance Taylor wasn’t just going to change things overnight. Still... that’s exactly what he was hired to do at Notre Dame.
Chris Tyree is without question Notre Dame’s top priority at running back this year. If that doesn’t happen though, both McClain and Drennen are excellent options — just not the “5-Star Trophy” Irish fans desire.