Notre Dame’s recruiting class took a bit of a hit last week. First, top 100 receiver and Notre Dame target Jalen McMillan committed to the University of Washington, before getting on campus for his official visit to South Bend in the fall. Then top 100 receiver AJ Henning committed to Michigan following a slew of official visits to various schools, including Notre Dame, and thus removing the two highest rated offense players remaining on Notre Dame’s board.
Both of the these moves would have been more surprising in April, but not so much now. Henning had been moving toward Michigan for a few months and there was traction with McMillan to Washington as far back as May. What had been looking like a dream Notre Dame class at receiver, with the possibility of three top 100 players joining the fold, it looks like it’ll be just Jordan Johnson, the highest rated of the three.
However, all is not lost and the Irish might be getting some good news at receiver very soon.
Xavier Watts On Deck?
Three star Xavier Watts officially visited two weeks ago with Notre Dame’s crop of defensive backs and by all accounts it went very well, with Watts even saying he was close to committing. This wouldn’t be the first time Watts has nearly pulled the trigger on Notre Dame. When he visited campus in the spring he also was close to giving his pledge, before in state Nebraska made a strong push and caused him to slow down a bit. South Bend Tribunes recruiting writer Carter Karels posted a story yesterday with a headline basically saying Watts could commit to Notre Dame at any moment.
Premium $ | Three-star WR Xavier Watts almost committed to #NotreDame over the weekend. He could still verbally pledge to the Irish tonight… tomorrow… next week… More details here. https://t.co/gbDZ5ylS6Q
— Carter Karels (@CarterKarels) June 25, 2019
Generally, beat writers don’t write things like that unless they are pretty certain it’s going to turn out in Notre Dame’s favor regarding that player.
Who Is Xavier Watts?
6-1, 185 pounds
.8777 composite rating, 496th overall, three star
Other offers: Nebraska, Michigan, Iowa State, Tennessee, Wisconsin
When comparing Watts to the other three stars in this class, you have to look at the offer date. For example, a lot of the defensive backs being recruited now who have recently committed or might commit, were offered recently. Which indicates they weren’t Notre Dame’s first choice at the position, or at least among them. The way Notre Dame recruits now, if they offer in May with early signing day coming in seven months, that’s considered somewhat late. This isn’t to disparage those players of course, but more than their star status, it shows how the coaches rate them at least a little bit.
With Watts, he was offered in January, among the earliest offers, and has been treated as a priority take for them since then. So regardless of my opinion or someone else’s opinion, Notre Dame has been on him as a top target, the only opinion that matters.
He looks very Rhema McKnight-ish to me in terms of athleticism and quickness. The thing that stands out is he wins and I don’t mean the games (although his team did win all the games last season). He wins on go routes, post routes, out routes, and screens. He runs by defenders or he out jumps then. He has wiggle, but also strength. He’s got a big body at 6-1, but he isn’t in the mold of Boykin or Claypool. He can play any wideout spot well and is physical with the ball.
There is also talk about some positional versatility with him. The BGI recruiting podcast with EJ Holland and Bryan Driskell talked about the possibility of Watts playing defensive back if needed in the event the struck out on numbers in the backfield. Just goes to show the skill set Watts brings to the table.
What It Means For The Class
Should Watts commit, Notre Dame could close up shop for the 2020 class on offense entirely and allocate their scarce scholarship resources elsewhere. Recently offered Jay Brunelle committed to Notre Dame last week following the commitments of Henning and McMillan. So yes, with Watts likely in fold and now Brunelle jumping on board, this will be the end of the recruiting on offense for Notre Dame.