If you’ve followed this space over the last couple of months, you know all about Chris Tyree and Notre Dame’s pursuit of him. The #29 overall player in the country (per 247’s composite ranking) out of Virginia has been the Irish’s #1 overall prospect for some time, and he has evidently made his decision. Tyree announced on Twitter he would be making his college decision next Thursday, May 23rd.
Thank you all for the support!! pic.twitter.com/yySnF4xt0k
— Chris Tyree4️⃣ (@chris_tyree4) May 15, 2019
The Current State Of Play
Notre Dame is one of three finalists for Tyree’s services, and it’s an all 2018 college football playoff affair, with Oklahoma and Alabama rounding out the trio. Things had been looking good for Notre Dame and Tyree for a good bit, with him visiting campus two times following their loss to Clemson in the Cotton Bowl, and an official visit scheduled for June 23rd. Does his commitment announcement ahead of his official visit portend bad news for the Irish? Not necessarily.
Following Tyree’s official visit to Oklahoma earlier in the spring, he gave a couple of interviews indicating the Sooners had taken the lead over Notre Dame and Alabama, and that news made some sense. Oklahoma is an offensive powerhouse, they have a history of running back success, and they feature an offense perfectly suited for his all-purpose back style. As was mentioned in my recruiting overview posted earlier this week, there were rumblings that Tyree was close to committing and cancelling his Notre Dame visit.
However, the Irish staff was able to weather that storm and Tyree reaffirmed his intention to visit campus officially. Then came some little tidbits from various beat reporters that Notre Dame had retaken the lead with Tyree and talk of an imminent commitment started to pick up, though without a firm grasp on what school he’d be committing to.
The Athletic’s Pete Sampson said on the most recent Irish Illustrated podcast that the Notre Dame coaches felt very good with this recruitment, BGI’s Bryan Driskell has been bullish on him to Notre Dame for some time, and the South Bend Tribune’s Carter Karels hinted at a commitment coming soon, implying it’d be good news for Notre Dame. Does this mean it’s a lock? No, this is recruiting, and teams and coaches get burned all the time with this stuff.
That said, running backs coach Lance Taylor was hired specifically to win these types of battles, and the staff has put everything they can into this recruitment. I have to believe, as of this moment, they will find a way to emerge with his pledge next week, but again, things can chance quickly in the recruiting world.
What It Would Mean For The Program
Setting aside the fact that the Irish roster hasn’t signed a player of this caliber at running back since 2013 (RIP Greg Bryant), but they currently do not possess anyone on the roster with his skill set, regardless of ranking. Jafar Armstrong and Tyree have similar games in that both are receiving threats out of the backfield, but Tyree is a burner in the same way Troy Pride is.
Tyree left the indoor track season as the national leader in the 55 meter dash, and is the fastest Irish running back since…well lets just say it’s been a really long time. For as good as Armstrong is, he doesn’t bring that kind of heat in the running game.
It should also be noted that after the 2019 season, Tony Jones will be moving on, with a big season Armstrong could very well be moving on, which would leave Jahmir Smith, C’Bo Flemister, and Kyren Williams as the only scholarship running backs. Tyree would be immediately counted on to contribute. And even in the event Armstrong returns, the team could seamlessly add Tyree into the lineup, as he and Armstrong will do similar things, just with a little more zest in Tyree.
What It Would Mean For The 2020 Class
The current class sits at 7th according to 247 sports, and a Tyree commitment would move them into 5th, just ahead of Georgia. More importantly, in terms of the overall class, it gives them a chance to finish somewhere in the top five. Looking at the Irish recruiting board and what is realistically possible, Notre Dame is among the favorites with eight other top 100 players, in addition to Tyree and the two already in fold (Jordan Johnson and Tosh Baker).
Let’s say Notre Dame ends up with four of those eight and ends up with seven top 100 players, and another four in the top 125, and that’s 11 top 125 prospects. That would represent an incredible recruiting haul for Notre Dame and would very likely put them in the top 5 nationally. Without Tyree, however, not sure they have that upside. Not that rankings are the end all be all of course, but it’d be nice to be among the top teams in that regard, since Clemson and Alabama will always be in that position.