Notre Dame got some much needed positive news on the recruiting front on Friday when top-50 OL Rocco Spindler put Notre Dame in his top 5. They got a little more positive news on Saturday when top-50 WR Dont’e Thornton put Notre Dame in his top 6. Both bits of news came on the heels of a potential decommitment to Oklahoma that the Irish staff is working on preventing.
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Notre Dame faces competition from Pac-12 powers USC, Arizona State, and Oregon along with Florida State and Virginia. The Cavaliers are a bit of an outlier in the group but represent a local program for the Maryland native. Missing from Thornton’s top 6 is Penn State – the program that he had originally committed to last year.
Dont’e Thornton became one of the most important recruits left on Notre Dame’s board for the class of 2021 in March when the Irish lost Deion Colzie’s commitment just as the coronavirus pandemic brought recruiting visits to a hault. Thornton, the #6 wide receiver in the country according to 247Sports, is a similar target to Colzie in terms of size and speed and compliments Notre Dame’s other wide receiver commitment, Lorenzo Styles Jr, perfectly.
Penn State had been trying to get back in on Thornton just like Notre Dame has been doing with Colzie, but it appears they failed in those efforts. Notre Dame, on the other hand, is still considered a contender for Colzie’s services.
As a junior, Thornton hauled in 38 receptions for 1,021 yard and 16 touchdowns. That is a gaudy 26.9 yards per reception average. That was after catching 40 balls for 860 yards and 10 touchdowns as a sophomore.
Notre Dame still wants to add two receivers to this class in addition to Styles – who they had a brief decommitment scare with in April as well. If they can land Thornton to team with Styles and add a third receiver like Jayden Thomas, Notre Dame will have an elite haul at the position this year. Another name to watch at receiver is Andrel Anthony who also named Notre Dame among his finalists though most consider him more of a second tier option to the likes of Thornton, Thomas, and Colzie.
For Thornton, Oregon looks like they are the biggest competition. The Ducks have long been a dream offer for him, but don’t forget that Notre Dame was a dream offer for Colzie too and that might not end up working out for the Irish in the long run. There’s a good chance that this one comes down to Notre Dame and Oregon thanks to work that Brian Kelly, Tommy Rees, and DelVaughn Alexander have put in over the last few months.