South Bend had a ton of elite talent in town this weekend as recruits flocked to Notre Dame Stadium to watch the annual Blue-Gold spring game. Offers went out, moves were made, and recruits were (probably) dazzled by the beauty of the Golden Dome sparkling in the afternoon sun. We're just gonna dive right into some of the big recruiting stories of the weekend.
Four new offers went out to Irish targets this weekend.
- One of the latest additions to the visitors list, 2017 4-star receiver Hezekiah Jones, left South Bend with in offer in hand. The Top 150 Baylor commit from Texas was absolutely blown away by his trip to Notre Dame, describing it as "the best visit I've ever been on." Flapjacks incoming? Hopefully. Jones is big-time.
Just received a BIG offer from THE University of Notre Dame☘ #GoIrish pic.twitter.com/8yiRnQNyhf— 9️⃣ (@_hezekiahh) April 16, 2016
- Receiver Jahan Dotson, a Top 100 player from the class of 2018, also left campus with an offer. He was already high on Notre Dame before his visit, and it appears he had a fabulous time at the game. The Irish are going to be tough to beat here.
Extremely Blessed and Excited to announce I have received an offer from Notre Dame #PlayLikeAChampion pic.twitter.com/MKyIC6ULeU— Jahan Dotson (@JaHeisman_5) April 16, 2016
He pinned this tweet, by the way. That means it's SUPER important.
- Four-star defensive end/linebacker hybrid Malik Vann was offered by the staff on Saturday. He left campus extremely impressed and is already looking forward to visiting again. At just 16 years old, Malik already stands at 6'3" and 245 pounds. He'll likely play defensive end in college. Michigan State will be some tough competition here, but Notre Dame is in a very good spot for the elite talent out of Cincinnati.
Excited and Blessed to receive my 8th offer from the University of Notre Dame! #FightingIrish #GoIrish☘☘ pic.twitter.com/jFaQhXOU2w— Malik Vann (@_Next_Era1) April 16, 2016
- Zack Kuntz, the top tight end and #14 overall player in the class of 2018, earned his offer and left campus very impressed. He has ties to Penn State since both of his brothers played there, but the word is that he really wanted Stanford and Notre Dame offers. He's got his ND offer now. Will the Irish be able to land the nation's top tight end again?
Extremely honored to receive a scholarship to the University of Notre Dame☘ pic.twitter.com/yqn3jcCPAt— Zack Kuntz (@zackkuntz_717) April 16, 2016
For those of you who hadn't noticed, three out of those four recruits correctly used the three-leaf clover in their tweets. #Progress. Jahan also gets points for his use of the "PlayLikeAChampion" hashtag. You gotta appreciate the classics.
- I know you're all dying to hear about 5-star defensive end Josh Kaindoh. Reports are that things went extremely well this weekend. The staff laid out the red carpet for Josh, he took it all in, and loved it. But... Will it be enough? The rumors around the interwebz now are that Kaindoh will decide as early as next week, that his visit to Notre Dame was just some kind of courtesy visit, and that he had already decided on committing to Maryland. Now, it is NOT set in stone that Josh will be deciding soon. He has not confirmed this. But if he does, expect him to choose Maryland (and then probably decommit half-way through the season and sign somewhere like Ohio State or whatever). Maryland is hot on the recruiting trail right now, but I don't expect that to last all the way through NSD. Oh, and it was pretty funny watching people freak out about this tweet that Kaindoh sent out part-way through the spring game.
I want to go fishing— Joshua Kaindoh (@_jkaindoh) April 16, 2016
- Reports were that top safety target Jaylen Kelly-Powell was almost ready to commit to Michigan before this weekend. That may no longer be the case. It sounds like the staff made a big impression on him and may have made up a lot of ground this weekend. It should be noted that Jaylen's a good academic fit for Notre Dame and carries an impressive 4.0 GPA. Hopefully, his recruitment continues on and he makes it to Notre Dame for an official visit.
- Unlike Jaylen, 5-star receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones has a very wide-open recruitment. Nobody seems confident about where they think he will sign, although it will likely end up being somewhere in the Midwest. The staff made a pretty big impression on Donovan, as well, and it seems like the Irish may have gained a bit of traction here. Long way to go until he decides, however.
- Not a lot of news on the Donovan Johnson front, other than that he enjoyed his visit. His is a name to know, as the Cass Tech standout should still be a candidate to receive an offer down the line.
- Markese Stepp, the lone running back offered by Notre Dame out of the class of 2018, is still really feeling the Irish. He was really digging the environment and says he could see himself at Notre Dame. He also said it was his best visit thus far. About the only thing that went wrong was his use of the four-leaf clover *Eric recoils violently* on Twitter. Don't expect him to make his decision any time soon, but the signs are pointing to the Irish at the moment.
Had a fantastic time at Notre Dame today!!!! pic.twitter.com/I9iAsSyauY— Markese Stepp (@markese_stepp) April 16, 2016
- The #3 tight end in the country, Pat Freiermuth, did not leave campus with an offer in hand. However, the current Top 50 overall player will likely earn one in time. This is another kid that really enjoyed the atmosphere at Notre Dame Stadium, and he should be back for Irish Invasion.
- Surprisingly, Cass Tech's Kalon Gervin did not receive an offer this weekend. He did leave campus impressed, though, and says he had a great time. The speedy defensive back remains someone to watch, and should be expected to receive an offer sooner rather than later.
- Another late addition to the visitors' list, 4-star Texas defensive back Isaiah Humphries, says he had a great time on his visit. He didn't receive an offer this weekend, but he is a good candidate to earn one soon. When the Irish offer, they will be in his top group. Isaiah also correctly used the three-leaf clover in his tweet this Saturday. That's four out of five, Eric.
More pics from Notre Dame ☘☘☘ pic.twitter.com/7u35EGjUwG— Isaiah Humphries (@Humphries_24) April 16, 2016
Overall, I think this weekend was a big success for Notre Dame football recruiting. The staff got in early on some elite young targets that really seem to like what ND is all about. The surprise of Hezekiah Jones arriving to campus and then loving everything about it was great to hear. A 2017 receiver class of Jones, Osiris St. Brown, and Tarik Black? Yes, please.
The traction Notre Dame seemed to gain with JKP and DPJ is also some very good news. The Irish still face an uphill battle here, but hopefully things continue to move in the right direction. Landing just one of those two would be big.
I am also somewhat surprised at how few offers went out this weekend. I was expecting at least a couple more. But, of course, some of those are sure to go out when a few of these guys make it back for Irish Invasion in June.