Previewing Notre Dame Recruiting’s YUGE 1/20 Weekend

Notre Dame DE target Kofi Wardlow (Photo from Twitter @KofiWardlow)
Notre Dame DE target Kofi Wardlow (Photo from Twitter @KofiWardlow)

With National Signing Day less than two weeks away, Notre Dame is charging towards the finish line with a lot of open spots available and a lot of holes to fill.  Decommitments and a loss of momentum during the 4-8 campaign has Notre Dame sitting at just 15 commitments with room to accommodate almost a full class.  The Irish will have as many as six uncommitted (to Notre Dame) prospects on campus along with three current commits and five early enrollees this weekend.

How the Irish staff performs this weekend will set the tone for the rest of this recruiting cycle.  Notre Dame has to nail this weekend and pick up at least three of this weekend’s visitors by Signing Day to have a chance to really salvage what looked to be, at one time, an elite class in the making.  This will be the first time the transformed Notre Dame coaching staff will all be on campus at the same time for a recruiting weekend.  Hopefully they hit the ground running without any missteps.

Here’s a look at everyone expected to be on campus this weekend.

Russ Yeast – 4-star WR/CB

Russ Yeast is one of the most recent offers to go out for Notre Dame just this past week.  The Indiana native has seen a rise in his rankings this month and is now a 4-star on every service except 247 but is still a composite 4-star prospect.  Yeast played well at the Under Armour All-American Bowl prompting the rankings boost.  Yeast is currently committed to Louisville, but things have picked up in a hurry for Notre Dame.  On the same day Yeast received his Irish offer he set a visit for this weekend.

Yeast is a very versatile athlete who can help Notre Dame at either wide receiver or cornerback and fits the mold of a wide receiver in Chip Long‘s offense as a smaller, shiftier type receiver.  If Notre Dame could pull this off it would be a pretty big late game coup for the Irish – especially considering things appear to be trending negatively for the Irish with Oliver Martin.

Kofi Wardlow – 3-star DE

Kofi Wardlow picked up his Notre Dame offer earlier this month and things have been looking pretty good for the Irish despite his December commitment to Maryland.  Notre Dame is in desperate need of pass rushers and will be putting on the full court press for Wardlow this weekend.  One of the first visits that new defensive coordinator Mike Elko made last week after the dead period ended was to Washington DC to see the weakside defensive end.  As of now, Wardlow might be Notre Dame’s best chance at adding a pass rusher but they will need to knock this visit out of the park.

Evan Fields – 3-star S

Evan Fields was one of the first of the late round of offers to go out once the season ended and has been one of the “new” staff’s main targets all month long.  Fields was visited by Mike Elston last week and MIke Elko this week.  Will the team effort from Notre Dame’s version of Mike & Mike be enough to sway the Oklahoma native?  Things look pretty good here and Fields being one of the few uncommitted prospects among the late round offers helps.  Notre Dame is battling Arizona State, Baylor, Kansas State, Oregon, and UCLA here.  Also working in Notre Dame’s favor here is Notre Dame currently being Fields’s last scheduled trip.

Tre Norwood – 3-Star CB

Recruiting has really picked up for Tre Norwood in the last few weeks since Notre Dame offered.  Oklahoma and Tennessee have since offered as well and currently, Norwood is scheduled to visit Oklahoma next weekend.  Notre Dame coaches will be doing all they can this weekend to make sure that visit doesn’t happen.  In the last couple weeks Norwood has been trending in Notre Dame’s direction and the current 247Sports Crystal Ball is pointing 100% in Notre Dame’s favor.  When the Irish offered, Norwood was committed to Louisville; but a day later he decommitted and set up his Notre Dame visit.

Notre Dame needs at least another defensive back in this class following the decommitments of Paulson Adebo and Elijah Hicks.  Norwood would be a nice start to making up for those losses.

Jordan Genmark-Heath – 3-star S

Every recruiting cycle there are a few recruits who are rated a bit lower who I inevitably come to really, really want Notre Dame to add.  Jordan Genmark-Heath is one of those recruits this year.  247Sports is the only service to have him as a 4-star prospect but he is a great fit for the ROVER position in Notre Dame’s new defense under Mike Elko.  Undersized for a true linebacker and lacking the top end speed to be a traditional safety, Genmark-Heath is an ideal fit for Elko’s defense.

Notre Dame is looking pretty good here despite Heath’s commitment to Cal.  The Bears are doing all they can to retain him including an in-home visit this week, but the Irish are coming on strong and the 247Sports Crystal Ball has been trending towards Notre Dame.  A great visit this weekend could put the Irish over the top.

Chris Miller – 3-Star CB

It’s still a bit unclear if Chris Miller is visiting this weekend.  He is listed as an official visitor by 247Sports currently, but none of the other services have confirmed the visit just yet.  Still it’s worth watching as Miller’s recruitment has picked up too.  In January alone Miller has added offers from Texas, Baylor, and Ole Miss.  Miller is still committed to Colorado but that hasn’t stopped other programs, including Notre Dame, from coming on late. As mentioned, Notre Dame needs more defensive backs in this class.  The more corners they get on campus for visits this weekend and next, the better.

Committed Prospects in Town

In addition to the prospects above, the Irish will also host up to three recruits currently committed to Notre Dame to help in their efforts to add to the class of 2017.  The Irish will also have their five early enrollees who started their collegiate careers earlier this week.

  • Drew White (3-Star LB) – White is considered 100% locked in and has been for a while.  Notre Dame is likely set at the inside linebacker positions with White and Adams.
  • Kurt Hinish (3-Star DT) – Another recruit who has never wavered in his commitment to Notre Dame, Hinish is rock solid.
  • David Adams (4-Star LB) – Adams lost a star on Rivals this week after playing through an injury during his senior season, but don’t let that fool you.  When healthy, Adams is an elite inside linebacker and a hell of an addition to this year’s class.  His commitment is considered rock solid.

What Would Be A Successful Weekend?

I already said that Notre Dame needs to land at least three of these visitors this weekend for this class to end up where we need it to be.  That said, given how new most of these recruits are on Notre Dame’s board it might be difficult to get too many to commit on the spot.

Just in reading the tea leaves, it seems as though Norwood and Yeast are the most likely additions Notre Dame could pick up on the spot.  Norwood decommitted almost on the spot from Louisville once Notre Dame offered and Yeast set up his official visit to Notre Dame on the same day he received his offer.  Both of those are very telling signs that Notre Dame is in good shape.  Yeast is still considered a Louisville commit though so even with a grand slam visit, it’s likely that any really good news from him might not come for a few days following his visit.

Genmark-Heath is another candidate for a commitment either during or shortly after this weekend – again just by following his recruiting and reading the signals.  Still, Notre Dame has a fight with Cal on their hands and needs to put in some work this weekend.

Fields does not have a visit scheduled anywhere next weekend, but Notre Dame has more ground to make up here and he is set to announce his decision on January 30th so don’t expect a commitment out of Fields this weekend. Wardlow will be an interesting one to watch as he could take another visit next weekend to Virginia Tech so we probably won’t know much definitively for a little while.

If Notre Dame can get Norwood to commit on the spot this weekend and flip Genmark-Heath and Yeast early next week, the Irish will be in really solid shape heading towards Signing Day and honestly that is probably the absolute best case scenario to hope for.  Even with that, the Notre Dame staff will still have a lot of work left to do.

In all, it wouldn’t be surprising if Notre Dame eventually added Heath, Norwood, Fields, Wardlow, and Yeast.  At the same time, it really shouldn’t surprise anyone if the Irish don’t add any of them given how late in the game they were with all five.  Ah, the highs and lows of recruiting.

Good luck to the Notre Dame coaching staff this weekend.  They’ll need it.

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  1. Lost another one to that powerhouse UVA Cavaliers. Just the starting RG though. There’s just so much talent it doesn’t even matter.

      1. talent out there on the intramural fields? still recruiting at Cincinnati? king of 3 star recruits?
        Bunch of 3-star guys?

        How can that be and yet the Irish are ranked 14th in the nation in recruiting? (ESPN)
        (and still have several scholarships available?)

      2. The article leads me to believe that ND has more scholarships to offer than viable, realistic recruiting targets. That is what I meant by my “intramural fields” comment, obviously not to be taken literally.

        And yes, ND is 14th at the moment, but I see falling a few spots much more likely than rising a few. If we end up closer to 20th than 10th, that is a disappointment. ND should be sniffing the top ten every year. But if ND somehow moves up a few spots instead of down, then I will gladly admit that I jumped the gun with my remark.

      3. What were they just a few months back on ESPN? Stop cherry picking facts, Shaz. Look at the overall recruiting trend; it’s been downward. Moreover, #14 for ND isn’t all that great to begin with, especially for a class that at the start looked like a top 5 possibility.

        Make facts your friend!

        BTW: No doubt some of these 3 star recruits who sign with ND will be special. The problem is that it’s hard to compete for a NC with 3 star talent. Add to that a mediocre coach who hasn’t developed a single QB at ND, when that was supposedly his forte and you can see why Saban and Bama blew out BK and Co. (And don’t tell me Kizer is all that great; he may be the best prospect in a poor QB draft class, but that’s faint praise indeed!)

      4. All I asked was how do they get to be top 10, or 15, or 20, or 25 ranked team with only half a recruiting class filled with all these 2 and 3 star guys you all talk about?

        It’s a fair question.
        At least George says not to take him literally, for others, it’s a given.

        Saban & Bama?
        Did you know that the Alabama’s scout teams, the ones their starters practice against, especially for bowl games, are made up of former players, many of whom earn money from the NFL?

        It’s true, it’s a fact, look it up.

        Perhaps, unlike Saban & Alabama, the fact that the ND Administration, AD, and head coach hold true the University core values of student athletes, armature competition, fair play and sportsmanship, may have had at least a little something to do with it?

      5. If ND is above pursuing the most talented recruits due to its core values as Shaz claims, then why did ND offer scholarships to four of Alabama’s five 5-star recruits?

        There’s no way I can objectively assess this year’s recruiting cycle and feel good about it. But that’s just me.

      6. Shaz,

        Again, I ask you, what was ND’s ESPN recruiting ranking just a few months back? What’s the trend when you replace four star recruits with three star ones, and three star ones with two star ones? It’s pretty basic, Shaz. The trend is spiraling downward. At one point Robert Beal was a ND commit. Think about that for a second!

        I guess Lou Holtz must have sold his soul to the devil. God forbid ND actually try to win football games. By the way, it’s not like ND’s recent history under BK has been all the inspiring from a “core values” perspective, given rape allegations, drunk driving charges, gun and drug arrests. All that to go 4-8!

      7. I know about what Bama does and apparently it is OK with the NCAA. ND on the other hand self-reports minor academic violations and gets two seasons stripped from the record books.

        Like I’ve said, ND should consider abandoning the NCAA altogether and look into starting a separate collegiate sports governing body. Clearly the playing field isn’t even. ND cannot compete on a consistent basis as things now stand and is growing increasingly irrelevant with every losing season.

        So ND needs to decide if it wants to compete in today’s NCAA college football world or continue its slow, painful spiral into utter irrelevance.

      8. There is nothing depressing here. We are being told that ND is currently killing it on the recruiting trail and simultaneously maintaining its core values, all the while enforcing strict rules at practice. It’s the best of both worlds.

      9. “If ND is above pursuing the most talented recruits due to its core values as Shaz claims, then why did ND offer scholarships to four of Alabama’s five 5-star recruits? ”

        Say what?

        I thought I said that due to their core values (student athletes, armature competition, fair play and sportsmanship) that ND won’t resort to using
        former players (non student athletes) on their scout teams?

        Is this another one of those comments that should obviously not to be taken literally?

      10. No. Of course I don’t take you literally. Nobody does. Ever. Maybe it would help if you post a follow-up story regarding Jarett Grace’s success in the NFL and all the money he’s making.

      11. He makes more than you, which isn’t saying much considering the current minimum wage…. or are you still on welfare?

        Ding! the fries are done!

        Better get back to work.

      12. Honestly, I’m not so sure. But you go ahead and stick to that thread you’re hanging by.

        Oh, come on. The fries thing again? Let’s do better.

  2. Only one of these is in the top 500. Two aren’t even in the top 1000! Bunch of 3-star guys who don’t seem very special at all. Time will tell, of course. Perhaps the new coaches can really coach them up. They’ll need to, big-time, not a lot of raw, natural talent from this bunch.

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