Weekly Notre Dame Football Recruiting Roundup 1/26

Photo: Matt Cashore / USA Today Sports
Photo: Matt Cashore / USA Today Sports

With National Signing Day only one week away, UHND continues its weekly recruiting updates, bringing you the latest stories of Notre Dame’s 2015 recruiting class.

Last week the uncertain future of safety commitment Prentice McKinney was explored. Though McKinney reaffirmed his pledge to Notre Dame to the media – and his high school coach denied Internet rumors that McKinney was unable to qualify academically – the Irish coaching staff continued to recruit other safety prospects, and Internet chatter began to surface that McKinney had taken a visit to North Carolina. UHND reported that McKinney’s recruitment was one to keep an eye on moving forward, but McKinney fast-tracked the timeline and quickly put an end to any speculation regarding his future.

McKinney’s departure highlights Notre Dame’s biggest position of need moving forward.


Notre Dame’s first crack at filling the void since McKinney split ties with the Irish came courtesy of 3-star prospect Justin Reid, the lone target to take an official visit to South Bend this past weekend. Reid, a Louisiana native and the brother of starting San Francisco 49ers safety Eric Reid, boasts offers from the likes of Oklahoma, LSU and Stanford. The young safety with NFL bloodlines is underrated by several recruiting services – despite his six-foot-two-inch frame – due to an underwhelming 4.67 second 40-yard dash time at Nike’s The Opening combine. What Reid lacks in top-end speed he more than makes up for in intelligence, physicality and explosiveness.

Reid posted an impressive 4.22 second shuttle time at The Opening, a drill that measures an athlete’s acceleration ability. While Reid may not possess the speed necessary to consistently chase an opposing wide receiver down from behind, he can cover a lot of ground very quickly, which is an essential trait at the safety position.

Head coach Brian Kelly and staff were able to lavish attention on Reid and his family given his status as the weekend’s sole visitor, and the Notre Dame coaching staff stressed the opportunity for early playing time. By all accounts the visit went very well, and Reid left campus impressed by what Notre Dame has to offer.

Awesome visit

A photo posted by Justin Reid (@justinreid_1) on

Notre Dame placed itself firmly in the race for Reid’s signature alongside Stanford, where Reid visited a week prior, and LSU, which will receive an official visit this upcoming weekend.

Overall, though the Irish are recruiting several safety prospects, Notre Dame still has much work to do, as Kelly’s squad has not been named a leader by any of the remaining safety targets. That said, Notre Dame put its best foot forward with Reid and his family, and the victory over LSU has given Notre Dame an in-road to Louisiana talent.

Reid is expecting to make his decision on National Signing Day and is a prospect Irish fans should keep an eye on moving forward.

Running Back

Just when it appeared clarity had finally reached Notre Dame’s running back recruiting, confusion once again reared its head. The running back candidate pool had dwindled to two prospects in Nashville running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn and Orlando back Dexter Williams, and the rumor mill was so strong that Williams would offer his commitment to Notre Dame during Kelly’s in-home visit last week that Vaughn coincidentally eliminated Notre Dame from consideration shortly after the visitation.

But to the surprise of many, the only news to surface post-in-home visit was Williams’ intention to make his decision on National Signing Day, a concern for any Notre Dame fan that still has nightmares about Lorenzo Booker.

While anything can happen on National Signing Day, Williams’ decision to wait seems more related to having the opportunity to make an announcement than reticence about his ultimate destination. Such a viewpoint is bolstered by the fact former Notre Dame players Cierre Wood and Louis Nix tweeted welcoming messages to Williams – tweets that were ultimately deleted.

Barring something completely unforeseen, the expectation is that Williams will be Notre Dame’s next commitment at running back.

Eyes on 2016

Though signing day is right around the corner for 2015 recruits, the battle for 2016 prospects is beginning to pick up steam. For Notre Dame, its latest skirmish wasn’t over an uncommitted prep player but one that has already offered a verbal commitment to Brian Kelly.

Tommy Kraemer is the latest in a growing line of elite offensive line prospects that the Irish have landed since offensive line coach Harry Heistand joined the coaching staff several years ago. Kraemer, the No. 1 high school prospect in Ohio, was not going to be released from his home state without a fight from the national champion Ohio State Buckeyes.

Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer recently popped into Kraemer’s high school to visit the Notre Dame commitment, leading to speculation about his commitment status.

“Not at all,” Kraemer said to 247 Sports reporter Tom Loy when asked if Irish fans should be worried. Kraemer called Notre Dame a “perfect fit,” stating that his background played a large role in his decision.

“I’m Irish Catholic and grew up in Catholic schools my entire life. It will be an easy transition.”

Kraemer’s recruitment serves as the perfect example of the increased difficulty Notre Dame will encounter when mining for Midwestern talent moving forward. Ohio State is flexing its growing recruiting power after winning the first College Football Playoff, and Michigan’s hiring of Jim Harbaugh should see the Wolverines make a splash within the Class of 2016.

Continue following UHND as the final push commences to National Signing Day 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 wife and those around him. Scott can be reached at scottjanssenhp@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter.

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  1. As has long been the case, a verbal commitment isn’t worth the saliva in your mouth!
    It is meaningless especially when “thieves in the night come”, very often, into an impressionable 18 year olds house and fills his head with visions of grandeur. It is very difficult to say no or stay with your original “verbal commitment” when the likes of Urban or Harbaugh are seating across from you in your living room. We just have to wait and see how the dice roll on signing day! You can be sure of one thing though and that is expect the unexpected and you might not be disappointed! Go Irish!!

    1. I don’t know how they really manage trying to recruit only so many kids while not having guarantees for many of them (and that’s including the assumed commits). It makes it a fascinating and very organic process I have to say. I suppose you can only have a ‘1 or 2 other alternatives’ plan but if 1-3 fall through, what do you do then?

      1. To true. Constant re-enforcement. Would get exhausting. Then to lose prospect late in process could be deflating. Still there is so many players available. Just don’t completely buy the 5 and 4 star hype. Especially in a sport that is so team oriented. First is the recruit even eligble or deserve to get into school? How about character? If those first two are present, then ND may be in the consideration. Not to leave out the athlete who truly does try with grades but falls a little short. Occasionally young men fair better with maturing in regards to education and learning. Great point about the cold and NFL.

  2. I hope that kids are not avoiding ND because of the weather. Because the last time I checked the NFL does not play all its games in South America. If your goal is to play in the NFL you might as well get used to the cold weather before you get there.

  3. I think there are some downsides to recruit around (in the minds of young kids) which I think would be the high academic standards and possibly the weather. On the flip side, if that means that only more serious kids come, then in a way that is a plus.

    1. I totally agree, that is a plus. I’d rather be all the way out or all the way in. BUT, I am not 18 or 19 now. I look forward to a good year. I think we can lose one game and still be ok, but yes, zero losses would bode well. I think the Georgia Tech game will be a very difficult one being as that they put up a great deal of yardage against quality opponents. However, we could go on and on. You gentlemen take care and have a blessed day. DK.

  4. the only way to get elite recruits attention is be a perennial playoff contender. Maybe, I expect too much but for me next year 1 loss is one to many. Notre Dame’s got the talent to beat anyone if this coaching staff can get their act together.

    1. Feed the elite recruits’ ego to buy into them being the difference-makers ND needs in putting ND over the top. For that to work, ND must establish that its program is nearly there. Potential playing time right away could also make a difference, and BK does play Frosh (unless you play OL or QB). Finally, the student expectation in recruiting student-athletes shrinks the available pool but that can be overcome, as ND perennially finishes in the top ten in recruiting. Developing that talent and having that translate into consistent top ten finishes is where this program must be. As for not losing any or one game- lofty goals- considering the schedule and each opponent targeting ND as a key game each year, despite whether ND is ranked among the elite or not. It’s achievable, especially next year, with a little luck and a lot of improvement. ND will have returned to elite status when playing consistent games of excellence rather than occasional quarters that impress. And that will come with player development and experience. Here’s hoping home losses to the Northwesterns and even a Louisville will be regarded as rear-view mirror history not to recur.

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