Notre Dame has already lost one top-100, dynamic wide receiver in the class of 2021 when Deion Colzie decommitted almost two weeks ago. Michigan is now trying like hell to flip Notre Dame’s other top-100 wide receiver, Lorenzo Styles, and it’s time for Brian Kelly to take over that recruiting and make sure that the Wolverines or any other program are futile in their attempts.
Irish Illustrated’s Tom Loy caught up with Lorenzo Styles recently and posted a fabulous, in-depth free article on his interview. In it, Styles confirms that he is still solid with Notre Dame, but also used the words “as of now” at least three times throughout the article.
When asked if he was on the fence about Notre Dame:
“I don’t feel like I’m on the fence in my recruitment. I’m just developing a relationship with coaches. As of right now, I feel like Notre Dame is a good fit for me.”
When asked if he still plans on signing and enrolling early with Notre Dame:
“As of right now, I’m definitely signing with Notre Dame.”
While it’s encouraging that he still considering himself committed to Notre Dame, it’s not too comforting that he prefaced his answers with “as of right now.” In recruitspeak, those are words you never want to hear.
Other programs are lighting up Styles right now, and why wouldn’t they? He is a top-100 wide receiver. Styles specifically mentioned Jim Harbaugh in the article stating that he’ll always take a call from a coach like that. When he referenced the Notre Dame coaches that have reached out to him recently, he referenced DelVaughn Alexander and Tommy Rees. Brian Kelly’s name wasn’t mentioned once in any of Styles’ answers.
Now maybe that’s just a coincidence, but it wouldn’t be the first time we’ve heard of a big-time prospect not hearing from Kelly as much as other head coaches. We heard it just last cycle with Lathan Ransom and Jalen McMillan – two recruits that were at the top of Notre Dame’s board.
For a coach who has said recently that he wants his program to have a top-5 recruiting class, Brian Kelly needs to personally take the lead on Styles’s recruitment and make sure that he signs with Notre Dame in December. For a recruit as vital to the class of 2021 as Styles, it should be Kelly checking in to make sure that Styles is still solid when coaches like Harbaugh are trying to poach a top recruit.
Considering Notre Dame has already lost Colzie – at least for now since there still is some semblance of hope Notre Dame can win him back – it would be borderline negligence for this staff also to end up losing Styles. As is, it is looking more and more unlikely that Notre Dame will have a chance for a top-5 class, and with each passing day that Notre Dame loses on-campus and in-person recruiting during the COVID-19 outbreak, a top-10 finish could even be pushing it.
At the time of Colzie’s decommitment, I wrote that Styles should be Notre Dame’s absolute top priority at wide receiver because they couldn’t afford to lose him and Colzie and still hope to bring in the elite weapons needed for a championship-caliber roster. And while Styles stated that he is still committed to Notre Dame and plans on signing with them, he left the door open.
Simply put, this is a recruitment where Brian Kelly needs to be taking the lead at this point and letting Styles know just how important he is to the class of 2021. Other head coaches are actively trying to poach him, and as long as he is taking their calls, they won’t stop trying to steal him.
If Brian Kelly truly wants Notre Dame to have a top-5 recruiting class and all that talk wasn’t just lip service, the future recruitment of Lorenzo Styles will prove it one way or another. If we hear in the next few weeks that Kelly has been much more active here in reassuring Styles that he made the right decision, we’ll know he was serious. If we are reading another recruiting post-mortem in January hearing from a top prospect that got away that Kelly wasn’t involved, we’ll know it was all just talk.
The ball is in Kelly’s court at this point.