Recapping Notre Dame’s Wild Bye Week of Recruiting Fire

Notre Dame was silent on the gridiron last week with their last bye week of the year, but they were on fire on the recruiting trail. If you blinked, you missed four commitments on the week. Or if your day job was crazy last week, like me, you didn’t write posts on each one. That said, here’s a quick recap of Notre Dame’s wild week of recruiting news.

Philip Riley, CB

Riley was a recommitment for Notre Dame. After initially committing to Notre Dame on the same day Will Shipley spurred the Irish for Clemson, Riley decommitted and flipped to USC months later. It sounds like some negative recruiting tactics might have been effective in this case since Riley had never visited campus due to the current pandemic. Riley made a self-guided trip to campus, however, and is now firmly back in the fold.

This was a huge recommitment for Notre Dame because they have not had many corners of Riley’s caliber sign throughout the Brian Kelly era – Riley is a composite 4-star and in the 247Sports Top 27. Riley also has the size to potentially grow into a safety at some point down the line as well.

With Riley back in the mix, Notre Dame has four defensive backs – Riley, Ryan Barners, Justin Walters, and Chance Tucker – and will be looking to add a fifth.

Josh Bryan, K

Before the COVID-19 crisis resulted in an extra year of eligibility for all current NCAA football players, Notre Dame needed a kicker for 2021. However, Jonathan Doerer has said that he plans on coming back to take advantage of that extra year as of now. Plans can change, of course (see Will Fuller, for instance), but it looks like they won’t need one for now. In case they do, they got a good one in Josh Bryan.

Bryan initially committed to Colorado but flipped to Notre Dame last week. Like Riley, he made a self-guided tour of Notre Dame, which helped immensely in Notre Dame’s pursuit to flip him.

Having a year to get used to the college game and learn behind Doerer also means that Bryan potentially won’t see his first action as a true freshman. For Notre Dame, that means not relying on a true frosh in a potential game-winning kick situation.

Kahanu Kia, LB

As the week went on, Notre Dame picked up more momentum with the addition of Hawaiian linebacker Kahanu Kia of Punahou High School – the prep alma mater of Manti Te’o and Robby Toma. Notre Dame beat out Stanford, UCLA, and Utah as the primary competitors for his services.

The addition of Kia gives Notre Dame two linebackers in this year’s class pairing with Prince Kollie. Kollie had an eventful week last week as well by skyrocketing up the 247 rankings in their latest update all the way up to the top 200.

One thing to note here is that Kia is planning on taking his Mormon mission after his freshman year at Notre Dame though that is also not 100% set in stone. Manti Te’o, for instance, planned on a mission after his freshman season as well, prior to his arrival at Notre Dame but ultimately did not take one during his collegiate career. Should Kia choose to go on that mission, he will not count towards Notre Dame’s scholarship limit for 2022 or 2023.

Kia continues the recent Hawaiian connection that started with Te’o and Toma but has continued in recent years with the likes of Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa and Marist Liufau.

Caleb Johnson, OL

Early on during the recruiting lull in the early stages of the pandemic, Caleb Johnson became a priority recruit for Notre Dame after losing Landon Tengwell to Penn State and falling out of the race for Nolan Rucci. Then Johnson abruptly committed to Auburn, throwing Notre Dame’s offensive line recruiting board into flux.

Notre Dame did not stop recruiting Johnson over the last few months, and their persistence paid off when Johnson flipped to Notre Dame last week.

The addition of Johnson gives Notre Dame five offensive linemen in this year’s haul. Johnson joins Blake Fisher, Rocco Spindler, Pat Coogan, and Joe Alt. Like Kollie, Alt was another big mover in the 247Sports ranking and is now the proud owner of a 4th star. This group features star-power with Fisher and Spindler along with some really high floor prospects in Johnson and Coogan and a really raw prospect like Alt, who could end up being the steal of this year’s class. Strong work by Jeff Quinn once again.

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