Notre Dame’s Recruiting Picks up Steam before Irish Invasion

Brian Kelly and the Irish coaching staff have the Notre Dame recruiting train steaming into the Irish Invasion.  (Photo: Robin Alam/Icon SMI)
Brian Kelly and the Irish coaching staff have the Notre Dame recruiting train steaming into the Irish Invasion. (Photo: Robin Alam/Icon SMI)

What a difference a week makes.  On June 4th Notre Dame received a significant setback to its recruiting class for 2015 when Blake Barnett, a Rivals 4-star quarterback and the Fighting Irish’s highest rated commitment, de-committed to better explore programs like Oregon and Alabama.  Barnett had been the crown jewel and face of Notre Dame’s class, leaving Irish head coach Brian Kelly searching for a recruiting identity with Notre Dame’s first ever Irish Invasion camp – an invitation only recruiting event – a mere two weeks away.  Fast-forward one week and five new recruits have pledged to play their Saturdays in South Bend, completely transforming Notre Dame’s recruiting momentum.

Notre Dame received three commitments along the defensive line, all hailing from the Midwest.  Indianapolis native Brandon Tiassum got the ball rolling with a commitment on June 8th, followed by Rivals 3-star Micah Dew-Treadway.  The defensive line haul was capped off with a recruiting coup when Cincinnati Moeller’s – the same high school that produced former Notre Dame quarterback Andrew Hendrix – Elijah Taylor offered his commitment to play in South Bend.  Taylor’s commitment was the culmination of a drawn out battle between Ohio State and Notre Dame, and marked an important recruiting victory at a position of need.

The string of commitments continued with cornerback Nick Coleman from Kettering, Ohio, hailing from the same high school that produced current Notre Dame quarterback Malik Zaire.  Coleman, though boasting a lower profile offer sheet, possesses the kind of athleticism that has the Notre Dame coaching staff excited about his potential.  And the potential in Notre Dame’s secondary grew even stronger this past weekend when Rivals 4-star cornerback and one time Michigan commitment, Shaun Crawford, finally offered his pledge to the University of Notre Dame after weeks of speculation.

Despite the streak of verbal commitments, arguably the biggest coup for Notre Dame’s recruiting fortunes involves a number of the nation’s very best recruits that have visited campus recently.

On June 7th Notre Dame once again hosted Cincinnati-based linebacker Justin Hilliard on a visit with his mother.  Hilliard, a Rivals 4-star linebacker, is listed as one of Rivals’ coveted Top 100 high school athletes and possesses elite offers from the likes of Alabama, Florida State and Ohio State.  Like recent Irish commitment Elijah Taylor, Notre Dame has battled Ohio State fiercely for Hilliard’s services, and all indications point toward a photo finish for the blue chip Ohio prospect.

Texas running back Soso Jamabo visited South Bend a short two days after Hilliard’s departure.  Jamabo, ranked 45th overall nationally by Rivals, has an offer from nearly every powerhouse program in America, and simply getting Jamabo on campus represents a monumental recruiting victory.  The Lone Star State standout represents the kind of talent that rarely escapes the recruiting grasp of Texas’s in-state powers, and all indications are that Notre Dame has placed itself in an excellent position to possibly gain Jamabo’s signature down the road.

June 10th marked Rivals 4-star wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown’s turn to visit.  The California native’s recruitment – with offers from the likes of LSU and USC – has an extra element of intrigue considering he is the friend and high school teammate of Travis Waller, one of Notre Dame’s top quarterback targets.  The potential to grab both California prospects in one swoop is legitimate.  Standing at a lengthy 6’5”, St Brown would offer the kind of size at the wide receiver position that Notre Dame has lacked since Michael Floyd’s 1st round NFL departure to the Arizona Cardinals in 2012.

Finally, and most surprisingly, Rivals 5-star running back Jacques Patrick made an unexpected mid-week visit to campus on June 11th.  The #18 ranked player in the nation, with offers from Alabama, Texas and USC, made the impromptu trek from Detroit to South Bend while visiting family in Michigan.  Patrick’s unofficial visit impressed him enough that he intends to return to Notre Dame roughly one week later to attend Notre Dame’s Irish Invasion, beginning on June 20th.

Notre Dame’s coaching staff deserves credit for completely changing the feel of Notre Dame’s recruiting class after the loss of Blake Barnett, impressively collecting five commitments in eight days while simultaneously hosting a bevy of the nation’s top high school talent.  With the Irish Invasion mere days away, the buzz surrounding Notre Dame’s recruiting efforts has grown tremendously, paving the way for a potential top ten recruiting class when the ink is dry in February of 2015.

Scott Janssen is a blogger for the Huffington Post and has authored several nationally-featured articles, including an appearance on MSNBC as a sports contributor.  He talks football 24 hours a day, much to the chagrin of his fiancée.  Scott can be reached at

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  1. Justin Yoon, as a placekicker, is the yin to this year’s yang of Tyler Newsome, the lanky punter from Georgia. So kicking is settled for the next few years. Let us hope that several years from now, Yoon is approaching some scoring records for ND and that people are wondering why we wasted a scholarship on Newsome because he punts so infrequently.

    “Your old men will dream dreams, and young men shall see visions”

    1. ND has some history with kickers.

      Bob Thomas, John Carney, Craig Hentrich, and Hunter Smith come to mind.

      I guess if ND is going to spend a scholarship on a kicker at least its on the best rated kicker in the country.

      ND has struggled with their kick off coverage.

      Yoon, besides his scoring capabilities, is also known for his deep kickoffs and touchbacks.
      And that’s probably the best solution for a team with inconsistant coverage.

      I also wonder if ND switching from grass to Turf had anything to do with landing the #1 kicker in the country?

      “I asked you to pack your headgear and shoulder pads, but more importantly your defense and your kicking game, because that’s what wins game like this.”

      -Lou Holtz-

  2. You can’t lose somebody you never had, so neither Barnett nor any of these pampered 18 year olds should be considered a “loss” until/unless they’ve been enrolled and THEN leave…a-la Eddie V. from last year…and Lynch before that…

  3. Losing Barnett is/was a set back but ND should have enough in their tank to keep them afloat. The new signings will certainly help keep Nd where they need to be to compete. Unfortunately, nothing is a sure thing.; Injuries, change of mind could derail any program and every blue chipper doesn’t automatically become an all-American/start! Go ND!


      Whats’ that mean?

      That Convicts aren’t real?

      (There are several million serious crime victims in this country every year who would disagree)

      Or are you saying that Notre Dame shouldn’t recruit convicts?

  4. Archangel, there are many challenges facing Meyer in Columbus.

    It is a strange town and the power structure is the industrial and commercial giants like the Schottensteins and the Nationwide crew.

    These are the Woody Hayes youth, sho carved up and threw out Earle Bruce, and they got used to Jim Tressel later.

    Meyer has issues, including a two game losing streak. His team, simply, did not play defense last year.

    And Meyer’s biggest issue is that he is a control freak. He had major issues with the slowpoke North Florida press and their reporting on little things like injuries. Those boys from the Columbus Post Dispatch and the Cleveland and Cincinnati papers ain’t no boy scouts. They’ll write as they see fit.

    Remember the guy who brought Meyer to Florida was the president from Utah who was there when Meyer, brilliantly, got Utah to a BCS bowl.

    We’ll see what happens in this and coming years. Meyer may need more love and genuflection than he may get from the Columbus press, the Buckeye faithful and the Schottenstein/Nationwide power brokers.

  5. Do you think Urban Meyer has just one recruiter
    whose new schedule includes calling Ohioans
    Crawford, Taylor and Coleman away from ND?
    These three are many moons away from LOI,
    and Urban Meyer can’t resist.

    Let the Ohio bucks*#t slinging commence.

  6. Things are looking good! To hell with Barnett. He was afraid of the competition. We are set at QB for awhile. Dont discard Zaires great talent.

  7. Jack and Brian certainly know what they are doing!

    This is going to be a really good class. Our roster is really getting powerful.

    Go IRISH,

  8. Add a few elite kids from those remaining under consideration and we have a good chance for an exceptional class. BK has definitely upgraded the recruiting.

  9. The timing of the Irish Invasion is sheer brilliance.

    With Luatua arriving tomorrow, the frosh are all in, just in time to join the upperclassmen, and then those Irish Invaders. There will be an explosion of adrenaline and enthusiasm. Everybody there will realize
    that Notre Dame is a place where great athletes-and great people- congregate.

    Let’s talk about Malik Henry. One of our problems in the past is that
    we’ve taken a long time to get the first visit from the California kids.
    Remember the case of Deontay Greenberry. But we are getting
    these kids in now some 20 months before their LOI day.

    I remain convinced that the 2016 class will be more impacted by this
    year’s Irish Invasion.

  10. Let’s not forget about the Barajas commitment on 5/30. That really kicked off this whole commitment train.

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