The freight train that is college football recruiting has ground to the halt because of the shelter in place orders around the country. Visits are canceled, the dead period extending until May 31st, and uncertainty is abound. It came at a very poor time for Notre Dame, as their operation was just starting to gather huge momentum, with a huge recruiting weekend scheduled for March 20th weekend.
But, the changes in plans didn’t stop the staff from sending out a flurry of offers in March, primarily in the defensive backfield, due to cornerbacks coach Mike Mickens’ official arrival on the scene. This piece is meant to catch everyone up on the offers that have gone out, and what the staff likes in each player.
Pat Coogan, Offensive Line
6-5. 290, Chicago, Illinois
Composite: .8739, 445th nationally
Other Offers: Ohio State, LSU, Oklahoma, Texas A&M
Notre Dame put in an offer for Coogan on March 26th, around the same time they lost out on top 50 recruit Landon Trengwell to Penn State. This offer was met with the usual “meh” reaction because of his three-star status, but the tenor of the recruitment changed when Coogan was subsequently offered by Ohio State, LSU, Texas A&M, and Oklahoma in the days following Notre Dame’s offer. Suddenly he looks like a bigger potential get than he did a week ago.
Why Is Coogan Good?
For a 6-5, 290 player he’s got tremendous athleticism. The first clip on his highlight tape is off him covering a punt and making the tackle (he’s also the long snapper). What’s remarkable to me is usually every lineman we see on tape is playing either right or left tackle in high school, but Coogan plays guard. The thing is of all the players I’ve seen on highlight tapes; he’s the one I’d think would be playing on the outside.
He also has this penchant for slamming his man to the ground and laying on them, which is probably very unpleasant for his opponent.
J.Micahel Sturdivant, Wide Receiver
6-2, 183, Flower Mound, Texas
Composite: .9340, 159th nationally
Other Offers: Oklahoma, Stanford, Florida State, Miami
Notre Dame offered Sturdivant on March 25th, around the time Deion Colzie de-committed from the class. Sturdivant isn’t really a replacement for Colzie, Notre Dame wants to take at least three receivers in 2021, and their games aren’t all that similar. Colzie’s size makes him a unique type of recruit. Sturdivant boasts a good number of offers, but he is short on the current blue bloods save for Oklahoma, but he’s recruited heavily in the Big 12 region.
Why Is Sturdivant Good?
Sturdivant is a smooth runner who is effortless in his gait and is tremendous after the catch. Reminiscent of Jeff Samardzija in that he doesn’t seem like a burner, but he’s consistently getting behind the defense and is not being caught from behind. Also, like Shark, he has tremendous ball skills and is adept and winning the ball in the air.
Jaden Alexis, Wide Receiver
6-1, 175, Pompano Beach, Florida
Composite: .8789, 405th nationally
Other Offers: Alabama, Georgia, Miami, Florida State, Michigan, Penn State, Texas
Notre Dame offered Alexis on March 26th, among a slew of a high profile offers for this three-star receiver out of Florida. Much like Coogan, the offer list doesn’t match the ranking for Alexis, adding Alabama and Georgia, and his offer comes with current commit Lorenzo Styles discussing the possibility of taking other visits. It should be noted that Alexis does most of his work in high school out of the slot, which separates him from some of the other receiver offers so far.
Why Is Alexis Good?
Alexis is an extremely fast player who is predictably very good with the ball in his hands. He plays with a tremendous amount of attitude and confidence; he has a similar body language to Shane Walton as a player. Notable that he holds offers from Harvard, Brown, and Duke. Alexis is a really good blend of the type of agility and playmaking you’d see out of a smaller player, and strength you’d see out of a bigger player. One of the more exciting prospects currently offered.
Ryan Barnes, Cornerback
6-2, 180, Gaithersburg, Maryland
Composite: .8628, 559th nationally
Other offers: Clemson, Penn State, Florida, Georgia, Oklahoma, USC
Barnes was offered on March 25th, part of the slew of offers at defensive back with the arrival of cornerback coach Mike Mickens. What stands out immediately is his size, at 6-2. Notre Dame has made a big push in the last few classes to bring size to the cornerback position, and Barnes fits that bill. Major offers from Clemson, Oklahoma, Georgia, and USC with their new cornerbacks coach. Very highly sought after player.
Why Is Barnes Good?
He is a tremendous physical presence with his size and athletic ability. He appears to have the speed to run with anyone, and he’s very well put together. He doesn’t look like a skinny player, and he plays a lot of press coverage. He’s got fluid hips and is good in transition.
Sam Jackson, Athlete
5-11, 170, Naperville, Illinois
Composite: .8935, 335th nationally
Other offers: Oregon, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Virginia Tech
Jackson was another offer that went out on March 25th, a very busy time for Notre Dame recruiting. Jackson, despite his four-star rating, doesn’t have the impressive offer list as some of the lower-rated recruits featured here, with most of his looks coming from the Big 10. Jackson is believed to be being looked at as a defensive back prospect for Notre Dame despite his listing as an athlete on 247.
Why Is Jackson Good?
Every one of the clips on his highlight film is of him playing quarterback, and it’s tremendously exciting. Cheering for this young man’s team has to be very fulfilling because he is making plays all over the place. It’s easy to see how someone would like him as a defensive back; he’s got very good lateral quickness and change of direction.
Zakee Wheatley, Athlete
6-2, 180, Severn, Maryland
Composite: .8990, 308th nationally
Other offers: Penn State, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Pittsburgh
Wheatley is the rare March 24th offer. His came out a day before everyone else. Wheatley is looked at as a defensive back by Notre Dame, a receiver by others. Again, Notre Dame is going with size in the secondary with the 6-2 Wheatley, who is mostly being looked at by the Big 10 and ACC without an offer at the moment from the other blue bloods of college football.
Why Is Wheatley Good?
Wheatley has the best ball skills of anyone we are looking at today. He displays his ability to make plays on the ball at receiver, corner, and safety. He knows how to high point the ball, fight another player for it, and has a flair for the spectacular catch. There could be questions about his overall speed, but he’s a ball hawk who gets to the ball when it’s in the air and makes the better play than everyone else.