Notre Dame picked up another commitment for the recruiting class of 2014 on Friday when Texas defensive end/outside linebacker Grant Blankenship committed to Notre Dame giving them 14 verbal commitments before the start of fall camp.
At 6’5″, 230 lbs and able to run a 4.6 40 yard dash, it is very easy to see why Brian Kelly and the Notre Dame coaching staff were as high on Blankenship as they were despite recruiting services like Rivals and 247 rated the Texas native with just three stars – he fits the exact profile that they are looking for in an outside linebacker/defensive end. Tall, rangy, and fast.
Built very much in the Connor Barwin mold, Blankenship projects as a CAT linebacker who can put his hand on the ground and rush the quarterback when the Irish want to play a 4-man front.
Barwin was also not highly rated coming out of high school. Rivals listed the current NFL star as a 2-star tight end back in 2005. Barwin went on to convert to an outside backer after reporting to Cincy as a 6’4″, 225 lb tight end and played his way into the second round of the NFL draft by the Houston Texans four years later. If Blankenship is able to do the same, the Notre Dame coaching staff would not complain at all.
With Blankenship on board for the Irish, Notre Dame now has five commitments in the front seven of the defense with Blankenship joining Jonathan Bonner, Greer Martini, Jay Hayes, and Andrew Trumbetti. The Irish are not done recruiting the front seven either. Notre Dame has several elite recruits left on their board that they are still in hot pursuit for such as Georgia native Lorenzo Carter.
Notre Dame was not the only big name program in pursuit of Blankenship. Oklahoma recently offered a scholarship and Blankenship already had offers from Oregon, Arkansas, Cal, Washington, Northwestern, and Oklahoma State among others. If you have some time this afternoon, watch the highlight reel below and it will be easy to see why – Blankenship can cover a lot of ground and can get to the quarterback.
Blankenship will also report to Notre Dame with a frame that is able to add plenty of more mass once he gets into Paul Longo’s strength and conditioning program and could potentially grow into a defensive end down the line just as Kapron Lewis-Moore, another Texas native, did once he got to Notre Dame. Moore was also 6’5′, 225 lbs coming out of high school just as Barwin was and had a very similar profile to Blankenship.
Given the very solid career that Lewis-Moore just wrapped up, I’m sure the Notre Dame coaching staff wouldn’t be too upset if Blankenship had a career similar to that of the 2012 Notre Dame captain either.
Aside from picking up another front seven commitment, the addition of Blankenship is big for Notre Dame because it gives them another prospect from the talent rich state of Texas – an area the previous coaching staff had trouble recruiting that the Kelly regime has been making a point of focus over the last few years. Just last year alone Kelly and company landed three prospects from the Lone Star State – wide receivers Torii Hunter Jr and Corey Robinson and tight end Durham Smythe. Blankenship is the first Texas recruit in this class, but the Irish still have several other Texas prospects left on the board.