This is the third installment of a continuing series looking at the top targets of the 2020 Notre Dame recruiting class. We have already featured running back Chris Tyree out of Virginia, and wide receiver Jordan Johnson from Missouri.
Notre Dame has struggled bringing in top 100 targets at the running back and receiver skill positions, only grabbing two since 2015 (receiver Kevin Austin in 2018 and running back Dexter Williams in 2015). That could change in a big way in 2020 with the Irish in a good position with four top 100 players, and three in the top 50.
Head coach Brian Kelly recently talked to Sports Illustrated about the need for top players at the skill positions, he specifically mentioned needing to get Michael Floyd and Will Fuller on the field at the same time, and it’s easy to wonder if that was perhaps a signal to the 2020 group that they are greatly needed to come on board.
Today, I’m going to take a look at wide receiver Jalen McMillan, from Fresno, California.
Jalen McMillan, The Player
Measureables: 6-2, 181
40 yard dash: 4.53
Vertical: 30 inches
McMillan comes out of San Joaquin Memorial High School in Fresno, California. The first thing that jumps out when watching him play is how smooth he is and how natural he is as a route runner. Anyone who has attempted to press him just gets annihilated right from the start. He understands how to set up a route, how to use leverage to his advantage, and give quarterbacks lots of room to get him the ball.
He has fantastic production: 73 receptions for 1,401 yards as a junior with 19 touchdowns. At nearly 20 yards a reception he is big play machine, with the speed to get deep and weave in and out of defenders after the catch. His speed is especially impressive, he easily runs by defenders on deep routes and leaves them even after the ball has been hauled in. He doesn’t get caught from behind.
Very good ball skills, will go up and get the ball at its highest point, and can use his size to shield defenders. Also a willing blocker, but will likely need time in this area due to his size and lack of having to do it consistently. Perfect blend of size and agility, similar to Jordan Johnson, who was profiled earlier.
Ranking: #45 nationally, #9 wide receiver
Offer list: Notre Dame, Oklahoma, USC, Washington, Oregon, Alabama, Georgia, LSU, Ohio State
McMillan is listed as “warm” on 247’s site with Notre Dame, Oklahoma, USC, Oregon, and Washington. This indicates schools he has listed high interest in. Oklahoma makes sense due to their connections and success recruiting in Fresno in recent years. He’s got the local PAC-12 schools hot on his tail, with Notre Dame being the furthest east he has expressed interest in and the only cold weather school.
Nice to see him receiving offers from the Alabama, Georgia, and Ohio State’s of the world, but this is a top 50 player. No one needs to be convinced that he would be a big get.
Interest in Notre Dame
Being from Fresno will raise some rightful skepticism from Notre Dame fans. That area has not been very kind to the Irish, either missing out on players, players committing and then ditching them on signing day, or signing and then immediately transferring. It’s almost enough to dismiss this recruitment entirely.
But, famous last words, this one could be different. Since receiving his offer last October, McMillan has expressed lots of interest in Notre Dame, and his coach described him as a perfect fit for the Notre Dame culture. He recently added Notre Dame to his top 10 list of schools, no big distinction, but you can’t be the pick if you aren’t in the top 10.
He has yet to visit Notre Dame, nor schedule one, but the feeling is that is coming. He has visited a lot of the west coast schools already and for how much he’s spoken of valuing the Notre Dame experience and being intrigued by them, it’s hard to imagine he wouldn’t give the school a look. Between #34 receiver Jordan Johnson, and #77 AJ Henning, I’m the least confident in McMillan, just due to his location and the lack of clarity on who his leaders are, but Notre Dame has a good chance here.