Brian Kelly and his staff have been hitting the recruiting trail hard since the 2016 season came to end. And why shouldn’t they? They don’t have a pesky bowl game to prepare for this year. Sorry, couldn’t resist. The Notre Dame staff, to their credit, have been hitting it hard on recruiting and they have a huge weekend on their hands. Four 4-star prospects and more than half the current commitments on hand for the annual Echoes Awards.
The weekend got off to a hell of a start before it even officially started with massive 4-star OL Aaron Brooks committing to Notre Dame over the likes of Michigan, UCLA, and Oregon. It could get even better for Notre Dame if they are able to make an impression on any of the four prospects on hand.
- Joshua Paschal – 4-star DE – Might be the most important uncommitted recruit on campus this weekend. Notre Dame desperately needs help at defensive end – a need that became even more dire with Donovan Jeter decommitted. Notre Dame appears to be in good shape here, but they need to knock this one out of the park and get another DE on the board. Kentucky is coming on strong here, but the Irish have led for a while and at one time Pashcal was ready to commit to Notre Dame. He needed to do a little work in the classroom at the time though.
- Greg Johnson – 4-star ATH – The nation’s #1 ranked athlete according to 247Sports recently decommitted from Arizona and is visiting Notre Dame this weekend. Johnson can help at a number of positions including running back and defensive back. USC and Nebraska are said to lead, but Notre Dame just lured Brooks out of Cali, perhaps they can lure another? Notre Dame already has CJ Holmes committed at running back, but there is always room for the nation’s #1 ranked athlete.
- Oliver Martin – 4-star WR – It’s a Midwest battle for this 4-star wide receiver with Iowa, Michigan, and Michigan State all in the mix for the 6’1″, 190 lbs US Army All-American. Martin will be announcing at the Army Bowl so don’t expect a commit here even with a great visit, but the Irish gets the last visit before he announces.
- Jamire Calvin – 4-star WR – Another US Army All-American 4-star wide receiver who will announce at the Bowl game. Unlike Martin though, Calvin is a smaller, shiftier wide receiver. Nebraska could be the biggest threat to Notre Dame here.
If Notre Dame can come out of this weekend with a commitment from Pashcal, it will have been a huge success. Anything on top of Pashcal would just be a bonus. Landing a pass rusher is the #1 priority left in this class and Paschal can fill that role. Notre Dame needs to lock this one up.
Reinforcements Are On Hand As Well
Notre Dame will have plenty of ammunition on hand this weekend to make an impression on the four uncommitted recruits. Eleven of the current 17 commitments for the class of 2017 are expected on campus this weekend. This group is extremely tight and much like the Dayne Crist led class of 2008, has only gotten closer in the wake of Notre Dame’s 4-8 season.
Here’s the 11 current commitments who will be in town this weekend as well.
- Brock Wright – 4-star TE – Set to enroll early next month.
- Avery Davis – 4-star QB – Could be needed to be the 3rd string signal caller next fall if Deshone Kizer leaves.
- Darnell Ewell – 4-star DT
- Robert Hainsey – 4-star OL – Another early enrollee
- Cole Kmet – 4-star TE
- Joshua Lugg – 4-star OL
- Isaiah Robertson – 4-star S – Another early enrollee
- CJ Holmes – 4 star RB – Another early enrollee
- Jordan Pouncey – 3-star WR
- Jonathon MacCollister – 3-star DE
- Dillan Gibbons – 3-star OL
The only early enrollee who won’t be on campus is Brooks and he just committed to Notre Dame earlier today. He is also the only offensive lineman in the class not in attendance. Hainsey, Lugg, and Gibbons were a formative trio already for Notre Dame and all three are in for the Echoes.
Can Notre Dame Close Strong?
Despite the 4-8 season, the firing of a defensive coordinator in mid-season, the uncertainty around Brian Kelly, and that giant ad in the Observer earlier this week, Notre Dame looks like it could be in store for a solid finish to this class. It actually looks like it could be more than just solid. After years of Signing Day and late recruiting disappointment though, let’s not get our hopes too high just yet.
Still, if Notre Dame is able to add Pashcal to the board this weekend and then follow that up by finally locking up cornerback Thomas Graham, we just might have something here. Graham isn’t visiting this weekend and has actually taken all of his visits already. The 4-star CB, however, remains undecided. Graham is an early enrollee, however, so we won’t have to wait too long to know where he is headed.