Notre Dame completed its string of commitments on Monday when Christian Gray, a 4-star CB out of St. Louis, became the 5th commitment for the Irish in less than a week. Gray, a top-100 overall prospect, gives Notre Dame one of its best secondary hauls in years as one of the top corners to commit to Notre Dame in over a decade.
Notre Dame pulled off landing Gray’s commitment despite the deck being stacked against them. Gray’s high school coach, Robert Steeples, was hired by Brian Kelly for his staff at LSU. Some thought that would put the Tigers in the driver’s seat for Gray’s commitment, but the work that Marcus Freeman, Mike Mickens, and Chad Bowen put in over the last year helped the Irish overcome the personal connections Gray had at LSU.
Gray visited Notre Dame seven times in total, dating back to last summer. He made three of those seven visits since Freeman took over as head coach – unofficial visits in January and April and then an official visit the weekend of June 10. Gray didn’t visit any other school more than three times.
While LSU was the main competition for Gray, Ohio State was a contender, and he held offers from Alabama, USC, Oklahoma, and Oregon, among others.
The Irish have struggled to recruit cornerbacks over the last decade – that is a large reason why Mike Mickens replaced Todd Lyght a few years ago. Gray is ranked as the #78 overall prospect in the country by On3 and the #7 cornerback. Based on his 247 rankings, Gray is the highest-rated cornerback to commit to Notre Dame since Gary Gray in the class of 2007.
For Notre Dame fans, adding an elite cornerback is a big deal. Adding one with deep ties to Brian Kelly’s staff at LSU is an even bigger deal.
Much like wide receiver recruiting right now, cornerback recruiting under Lygth reached a low point a few years ago. Mickens, however, has restocked the depth at the position and has been working on landing top-end talent like Benjamin Morrison last year and now Gray and fellow 2023 commit Micah Bell, who committed to Notre Dame on Friday.
With Gray and Bell on board, Notre Dame has one of its best secondary classes in years. Peyton Bowen and Adon Shuler are a pair of elite safeties. The quartet is an impressive haul for Freeman, Mickens, Bowden, and Chris O’Leary. And they aren’t done yet. Notre Dame is still working on 5-star safety Caleb Downs who visited in June. The Irish are not considered a favorite for Downs at the moment, but his recruitment is still far from over.
Gray’s commitment caps off one of the most incredible weeks of Notre Dame football recruiting in recent memory. He is the fifth commitment in total and fourth for the class of 2023 alone since Wednesday of last week – all of which are 4-star commitments. By comparison’s sake, the Irish have added twice as many 4-star players for 2023 in the last week alone than Michigan has in their entire 2023 class currently.
Notre Dame widened its lead on Ohio State for the top spot in the class of 2023 team rankings with Gray’s commitment on Monday. It will still be challenging for the Irish to hold on to that spot until the very end, but regardless, the Irish have reached a recruiting level they simply never attained during Brian Kelly’s time at Notre Dame.