In today’s day and age, schools have to get pretty creative and use everything they have at their disposal on the recruiting trail. Sometimes that involves promoting a former star player from a rival school when that player’s former position coach is now on your staff. That is exactly what Notre Dame is doing right now with former Stanford great Christian McCaffrey – current Notre Dame RB coach Lance Taylor‘s star pupil.
For some background here, McCaffrey just signed a contract extension with the Carolina Panthers that made him the highest-paid running back in NFL history. It’s a 4-year, $64 million deal. That’s an average of $16 million a year. For those unfamiliar with NFL contracts, that deal entered crazy town. It’s $1 million a year more than Ezekial Elliot’s and $3 million more than the 3rd highest-paid back in the league – Leveon Bell.
Considering Lance Taylor directly coached McCaffrey at Stanford and was on the Carolina Panthers staff in 2017-18, it makes perfect sense for him to be celebrating McCaffrey’s new mega-deal.
Congrats to my guy, the 🐐, @CMC_22 on becoming the highest paid RB in NFL history!! Earned & well deserved! ✊🏽💯💰#HardWorkIsUndefeated #BlessedbytheBest https://t.co/Zulrn8XqV1 pic.twitter.com/bUGmSU0N0L
— Lance Taylor (@CoachLT39) April 13, 2020
A day later, Taylor was tweeting about McCaffrey again.
Where it becomes interesting, from Notre Dame’s perspective, is that offensive coordinator Tommy Rees got in on the action as well with a graphic that the Irish clearly had created by their media team.
Enough said. Get coached & developed by the best to become the best. Oh, and not a bad pay day along the way. pic.twitter.com/PqTnAwIRjR
— Tommy Rees (@T_Rees11) April 16, 2020
The reason why Rees and Notre Dame and touting Taylor’s experience with McCaffrey, despite McCaffrey being a Stanford alum, is pretty clear. The recruitment of Will Shipley.
Notre Dame is in a heated recruiting battle with Clemson right now for Shipley’s services. Shipley has long been Notre Dame’s top target at running back and the key to a path towards a top-5 class. Clemson, though, is in the way, and after the COVID-19 outbreak canceled all March recruiting visits, it looked like the Tigers had the edge. Lately, though, Notre Dame has been surging in their recruiting of Shipley. Now it’s anyone’s guess where Shipley lands.
And that brings us back to McCaffrey and Notre Dame leveraging Taylor’s history with him on the recruiting trail. It’s a pretty wild tactic when you think about it. Pete Sampson of the Atlantic summed it up pretty well on Twitter last night.
Imagine USC hiring Harry Hiestand and pitching “Be the next Zack Martin, Quenton Nelson, Ronnie Stanley, etc.” and suddenly USC turning into a national power recruiting offensive linemen.
That’s sort of what’s happening with Notre Dame and running backs with Lance Taylor.
— Pete Sampson (@PeteSampson_) April 16, 2020
Imagine how Notre Dame fans would react to a rival school using a former Notre Dame great’s success to tout their own coaching staff and recruiting efforts. I’m sure all Irish fans would be pretty level headed, right?
Now I’m not knocking Notre Dame in the slightest for using everything they have at their disposal to lure Shipley to Notre Dame. Heck, I’ve mention McCaffrey several times in articles about Shipley over the last few months myself. What is interesting to see, however, is the Notre Dame staff publicly touting McCaffrey’s success as part of their pitch to running backs.
Shipley is tentatively set to visit Notre Dame officially the weekend of June 12, but that visit is very much still up in the air. For one, who knows if recruiting visits will even be happening by June given the nation is still largely under stay at home orders. There is also no guarantee that Shipley won’t commit somewhere – whether its Notre Dame, Clemson, or a darkhorse like North Carolina – before then.
Until then, it’s pretty clear that the Notre Dame staff is pulling out all of the stops in their pursuit of Shipley and good for them for doing so.