Notre Dame received their biggest commitment in the 2020 recruiting cycle, and perhaps the last five years, from #1 all-purpose back Chris Tyree last Thursday. It was the result of a years long recruiting push for a player they desperately wanted and what the roster desperately needed. It gave Notre Dame 11 commitments total, a top 6 ranking, and their #1 targets at quarterback, running back, wide receiver, tight end, and offensive tackle. That’s obviously great news for the staff, but there is still work to be done. Here is a look at where Notre Dame sits position by position, and who is next and/or most likely to join the 2020 class.
Quarterback, Running Back, and Tight End Are Done
The Irish have a commitment from top 200 quarterback Drew Pyne, top 30 running back Tyree, top 100 tight end Michael Mayer and top 250 tight end Kevin Bauman. With those four players in fold, the coaches are closing up shop on those positions for the 2020 class. The biggest surprise there is running back, where it has long been assumed they’d take two players. This is probably due to multiple factors: not having another “must take” prospect at that position, needing to maximize the class as a whole due to the small numbers, the running back room looking a lot better post-spring practice. Adding Tyree next season would give the group five scholarship players heading into the 2020 season, and that’s assuming no one else moves over from another position.
As for quarterback, Notre Dame generally only takes one per cycle, and two tight ends is plenty given the overall makeup of the roster.
This is a pretty intriguing position for the staff this cycle. They’ve got top 40 receiver Jordan Johnson locked up in the class. They could end up taking just three or four depending on who those four are. The options include two top 100 players, a top 125 player, and a three star who is receiving a lot of buzz and looks to improve his ranking over the summer.
- Xavier Watts, 6-1, 185, Omaha, Nebraska, .8728 rating, 3 star- by all appearances it seems Watts it the most likely to join the class at this point and he’s got an official visit scheduled for Notre Dame on June 21st. He’s been hitting up the summer camp circuit so far this spring and summer and has turned lots of heads. The word out of South Bend is the staff loves his current game and his potential, and has treated him like a top target, even though he’s ranked significantly lower than some of their other targets. 247’s Tom Loy recently put in a Crystal Ball prediction in for Watts to Notre Dame.
- Jalen McMillan, 6-2, 181, Fresno, CA, #49 overall player, 4 star- Notre Dame’s top remaining target, in a battle with Washington for McMillan’s pledge. This one is going to take a good amount of time, with McMillan having an official visit scheduled for the October contest against USC. This is the player that could take the class to four, should Notre Dame receive two other commitments prior to his announcing. It is believed Washington is currently in the lead, but there is plenty of time for that change between now and October and Notre Dame will remain in hot pursuit.
- Michael Redding III, 6-1, 195, Bradenton, Florida, #123 overall, 4 star- Redding and Notre Dame were very heavily linked earlier in the spring and since then Redding has slowed things way down to the point it seemed Notre Dame had fallen out of favor. It seems it was more Redding wanted to take his time on choosing a school–he’s got offers from Florida State, Miami, Alabama, etc–than Notre Dame falling off. The Irish remain among the leaders, although the timeline here isn’t quite clear.
- AJ Henning, 5-10, 175, Frankfort, IL, #78 overall, four star- Honestly, who knows what’s going on with this one? Sometimes Notre Dame is in the lead, other times Michigan, other times someone else. This is all comes from reporting by the way, not Henning himself. Point is, he hasn’t been clear about where his recruitment stands, and that’s perfectly fine. Henning has offers from whatever top school you can think of so it makes sense he’d fluctuate between schools. If I had to guess, he’d wait to make his choice and the Irish could fill up and he’d end up somewhere else.
The focus is all on Michael Carmody out of Pennsylvania, who is visiting in early June and could commit to Notre Dame at that point. I’d say out of everyone left on the board, he’d be most likely to commit next. His brother plays basketball at Notre Dame, he really wanted the offer, and the Irish instantly became his favorites when they did offer the #126 overall player. I think if Notre Dame paired him with Tosh Baker they’d wrap up the offensive line for the 2020 class.
Defensive Line and Linebacker
The focus seems to have moved to two players, one at each position: Cody Simon, outside linebacker and the brother of Shayne Simon, and Mitchell Melton, the defensive end out of Maryland. Melton is the response to Notre Dame finishing second to Michigan for Braiden McGregor, although Melton is more of a Julian Okwara type while McGregor was in the Khalid Kareem mold. If Notre Dame misses on Melton or decides to pass, they’ll likely be done on the defensive line with Rylie Mills, Jordan Betalho, and Aiden Keanaaina committed to the class.
Simon is the option at linebacker should Notre Dame have the room for him. They’ve loaded up on the position in the last couple of classes and numbers could dictate Notre Dame passes on the position this year. It’s a tricky spot for the staff, Simon might not want to wait around for them, but they are currently holding steady among his leaders for the time being.
The big fish here is Clark Phillips, the top 50 corner from La Habra, California, who the Irish are battling with Ohio State for. It’s unclear about when Phillips might be making a pledge, but I wouldn’t consider anything imminent. He is the jewel of the corner class, and is built in the mold of Shaun Crawford, with a similar game, although he’s a little bigger. Behind Phillips is a whole lot of unknown. Most likely to join the class would be three star Lovie Jenkins out of Florida, who Notre Dame offered about a month ago and will have on campus June 21st. He falls into the sleeper category as a mid three star prospect, but he’s gained traction in the last month, receiving offers from Tennessee, Miami, and Pitt over the last month.
Beyond those two, it’s a whole bunch of unknowns at the position and a bunch of recent offers without a lot of clarity.
Lathan Ransom, a top 100 player from Arizona, is the top target on the board in what is currently a wide open race for his commitment. Schools like Ohio State, Oklahoma, Texas, LSU, UCLA, and USC are listed as “warm” on 247 in terms of his interest, in addition to Notre Dame, which is pretty unusual. It’s generally three or four schools, not seven, an indicator there isn’t a true leader and likely won’t be for a while. Notre Dame has done well to be among the top group and is making a big effort to land Ransom, their top defender left on the board and is a big priority for them. Ordinarily, skepticism would be warranted, but given what they’ve done with their top targets on offense, can’t discount Notre Dame here.
Beyond Ransom, recently offered Jerrin Thompson out of Lufkin, Texas set up an official visit to South Bend soon after the offer was made in early May, and he’ll be around for the June 21st weekend. The four star, top 250 player could pop if that visit goes well, but that’s not something to expect.