One of the biggest recruiting weekends of the offseason for any major football program is the playing of the spring game and Notre Dame is no different. There are, give or take, 20 prospects in the 2018 class slated to attend, both committed and uncommitted, and a very good number of 2019 prospects as well.
Generally speaking, it’s hard to get exact numbers and names on who will be coming because these are all unofficial visits and very often these are fluid situations, with prospects confirming or cancelling last minute. Of those who are attending most people just want to know who might commit or who Notre Dame has the best chance of landing, so I decided to focus on those players here. Consensus seems to be it’s unlikely any of these players are likely to commit during the weekend, but you never know, the new jumbotron might move someone to pull the trigger on first sight.
Kevin Austin, Wide Receiver, Pompano Beach, Florida
.9232 composite rating (247), four star, #189 overall
The 6’3, 200 lb receiver from Florida currently holds offers from Florida State, Miami, Auburn, Ohio State, and Michigan among his 34 total. One of the most likely players in attendance to eventually land in the 2018 Notre Dame class, 247 crystal ball predictions currently have him at an 80% chance to be Irish, if you’re into the crystal ball thing.
In terms of style he’s similar to that of current receiver Kevin Stepherson, just about three inches and 25 pounds heavier. He’s a fairly lean, long strider who is smooth up the field and running routes. He’s shown much more aptitude after the catch and with the ball in his hands than Stepherson did in high school. Austin’s team uses him as a running back fairly often, as well as the quarterback in the wildcat formation. This would be an excellent addition to the Notre Dame class that already features speedster Braden Lenzy and Illinois product Micah Jones and looks to add a couple more receiving options.
If anyone was going to commit on the visit, I’d pick this guy, although he has said he plans to wait for a later date.
Chase Cota, Wide Receiver, Medford, Oregon
.9393 composite rating, four star, #127 overall
Cota currently boasts 14 offers, among them Oregon, Alabama, USC, UCLA, and Georgia. As you might imagine, he has a pretty good relationship with the aforementioned Braden Lenzy, another Oregonian receiver who committed to Notre Dame earlier this spring.
Cota’s film is kind of amazing in that when watching it, without knowing his measurements, he came across as kind of smallish, with a playing style akin to Golden Tate (the 2009 version at Notre Dame, not the 2007 high school recruit that didn’t know how to run routes). He’s slippery and deceptively strong with the ball in his hands, not a blazer, but good long speed (much like Kevin Austin frankly), and just an overall playmaker with the ball. Then you look at his bio and you see he is 6’3, 195. It doesn’t really compute that a guy that big would be as shifty.
It would seem Notre Dame has some work to do with this guy, but he’ll be on campus with Lenzy this weekend and that’s as good a place to start as any.
Dallas Gant, Linebacker, Toledo, Ohio
.9432 composite rating, four star, #117 overall
First of all, a fantastic name for the 6’3, 225 pound linebacker out of Ohio. Holds an offer from every major Big 10 school there is, and Ohio State is seen as the main competition for his services. He is currently scheduled to announce his commitment on May 16th and it looks like the Buckeyes are currently the favorite. Given the proximity to the announcement date, Gant is probably the most important player this weekend and someone who current running back commit (and lead recruiter) Markese Stepp publicly stated would be his #1 priority on his visit. It’s safe to assume if Stepp is honing in on Gant then the rest of the 2018 commits in attendance, eight as of now, will also turn their attention to Gant.
Gant, who played last year at 205 and now lists himself at 225, is in the mold of Te’Von Coney, but a little more athletic. Yes, that means he’s likely to play the Buck position in Mike Elko’s defense which could have some opening’s following Gant’s freshman season. He is an extremely high priority this week, hopefully Elko and co. can pull a result here.
PJ Mustipher, Defensive Tackle, Owings Mills, Maryland
.9663 composite rating, four star, #61 overall
If Dallas Gant is the most important player this weekend, PJ Mustipher might be the most important remaining in the entire class. He’s a defensive tackle, a position that Notre Dame desperately needs to upgrade, and his brother is slated to be a multiple year starter at center on the current team. They just can’t afford to miss with this guy. He’s 6’5, 290, a state champion wrestler, and holds all the offers. He’s a cross between Jarron Jones and Stephon Tuitt, not quite as athletic as Tuitt, more athletic and gifted than Jones, with Tuitt and Jones size, and minus the questions about his motor.
Notre Dame is thought to be the favorite here, although there isn’t much news from Mustipher himself. He’s not expected to commit, but he seems like the type of guy who could commit at any time without warning so it’s something to keep in mind.
L’Christian Smith, Athlete, Dayton, Ohio
.9500 composite score, four star, #103 overall
Smith is a new name on the Notre Dame scene, at least publicly, so he’s a guy to keep an eye on after this weekend to see if anything that he saw and heard stuck with him. He’s listed as an athlete, but most of his highlights are of him as a wide receiver. It seems like the idea is the 6’6, 205 pounder eventually turns into a Aliz’e Jones, Tyler Eifert type of player for the Notre Dame team. My first thought when watching his film was Kellen Winslow, the former tight end out of Miami. His game in high school was similar to that of Michael Floyd in 2011, a big body with deceptive speed who can bully defensive backs and use his big frame to shield defenders from passes.
As one would expect, Ohio State leads for his services, among several other big time offers. If Notre Dame was to land his services, they’d really need to extend his recruitment and get him in town for an official visit. Not sure of his timeline, but hopefully the atmosphere and other commitments can make a solid impression.
2018 Commits Attending The Spring Game
- Jayson Ademilola, defensive tackle
- Justin Ademilola, outside linebacker/defensive end
- Bo Bauer, middle linebacker
- Kalon Gervin, cornerback
- Braden Lenzy, wide receiver
- Micah Jones, wide receiver
- Ovie Oghoufo, outside linebacker
- Markese Stepp, running back