Weekly Notre Dame Football Recruiting Roundup 1/25

Ben Davis - Notre Dame LB Recruit
Photo: Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire

With less than two weeks remaining until National Signing Day Notre Dame’s recruiting board is beginning to become more focused. Athlete Jonah Morris – a newcomer to UHND’s watch list last week – dropped off nearly as quickly as he arrived, with Morris officially eliminating Notre Dame from his list of options. The subtraction of Morris leaves seven prospects (four linebackers, two wide receivers and one defensive back) with several open slots left for Notre Dame’s 2016 recruiting class.

Jonathan Jones

  • Hometown: Orlando, FL
  • Position: LB
  • Star Ranking: Rivals 3-star; 24/7 3-star; ESPN 3-star
  • Top Offers: Georgia, Florida, LSU
  • Trending:

The 3-star linebacker from Orlando visited hometown UCF last weekend and word is the Knights put their best foot forward, possibly enough to give Jones something to think about. Jones’ next step is a visit to Duke this weekend before making his final destination known on National Signing Day.

Despite the strong push by UCF and Duke’s continued persistence, the battle for Jones’ signature will likely come down to Notre Dame and Michigan. Notre Dame is in great position here.

Nate Johnson

  • Hometown: Thompson’s Station, TN
  • Position: WR
  • Star Ranking: Rivals 3-star; 24/7 3-star; ESPN 3-star
  • Top Offers: Michigan, Miami, Tennessee
  • Trending:

Johnson, who has drawn comparisons to fellow Tennessee native Golden Tate, narrowed his final choices to Michigan, Miami and Notre Dame this week despite his status as a Wolverines commitment, and word is his visit to South Bend this weekend went very well. The recruiting service 247Sports has updated their Crystal Ball Predictions to nearly a unanimous decision in favor of Notre Dame.

Set to make his decision on National Signing Day, Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly is in position to poach one of Jim Harbaugh’s recruits.

Demetris Robertson

  • Hometown: Savannah, GA
  • Position: ATH/Wide Receiver
  • Star Ranking: Rivals 5-star; 24/7 5-star; ESPN 4-star
  • Top Offers: Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State
  • Trending:

Elite prospect Demetris Robertson has been recruited hard by a Notre Dame coaching staff that has done a wonderful job planting the notion Robertson could be the next Will Fuller into his ear. That message has played well enough for several experts, including one based in Robertson’s native Georgia, to project Robertson to sign with Notre Dame, a development which played a key role in UHND upgrading Robertson’s status as trending toward Notre Dame last week.

Fast forward one week and Robertson continues to trend in Notre Dame’s favor after a successful and productive in-home visit with Brian Kelly last Monday. The Fighting Irish have put themselves in terrific position for a recruiting coup, but can Notre Dame keep Stanford, Alabama and Georgia at bay?

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Caleb Kelly

  • Hometown: Fresno, CA
  • Position: LB
  • Star Ranking: Rivals 5-star; 24/7 5-star; ESPN 4-star
  • Top Offers: Alabama, Florida State, Ohio State
  • Trending:

Despite having a final three of Oklahoma, Notre Dame and Oregon, most experts believe it’s a two-way race between the Sooners and Irish. Oklahoma has long been considered the favorite for Caleb Kelly but chatter began to increase last week that Notre Dame left a significant impact on the Fresno native when visiting South Bend for the team banquet in December. The current buzz seems to indicate that impact was stronger than many anticipated, and Notre Dame may have cut into Oklahoma’s lead significantly.

The increase in positive vibes regarding the Irish is enough to feel that Notre Dame is trending upward for Kelly, which is what led to Kelly moving up the watch list board in this week’s recruiting roundup.

Ben Davis

  • Hometown: Gordo, AL
  • Position: LB
  • Star Ranking: Rivals 5-star; 24/7 5-star; ESPN 4-star
  • Top Offers: Alabama, Florida State, LSU
  • Trending: ↔

There was reason for Notre Dame fans to be excited about Ben Davis’ recruitment last week. Getting the 5-star Alabama legacy on campus for a visit was an extraordinary accomplishment and a testament to Autry Denson establishing himself as a recruiting power on the rise, and Davis describing his visit as “perfect” gave the impression Notre Dame may have muscled its way into the driver’s seat. Once the dust settled, however, the story was a tad different.

Davis informed recruiting outlets his visit to South Bend placed Notre Dame into his top three, and what once appeared to be a positive result transformed into a damaging below. Numerous head coaches at Notre Dame have used the “you either love it or hate it” mantra when selling recruits on the university, and as a general rule if a recruit leaves South Bend without Notre Dame as his leader it’s very difficult to come out on top.

Notre Dame is still firmly in this race but many things would have to fall in place for Davis to pick the Irish, and it certainly doesn’t help that Davis is visiting his father’s alma mater, Alabama, this weekend. These developments have resulted in downgrading Davis’s status from last week.

Jordan Fuller

  • Hometown: Old Tappan, NJ
  • Position: CB
  • Star Ranking: Rivals 4-star; 24/7 4-star; ESPN 4-star
  • Top Offers: Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State
  • Trending:

Jordan Fuller’s status was downgraded last week due to planned visits to Ohio State and Michigan as well as Fuller’s stated desire to play the cornerback position, a complication for Notre Dame who sees the talented New Jersey native as more of a safety-cornerback hybrid. And while Fuller did not commit to Ohio State during his visit – and visited Michigan this weekend – the buzz seems to indicate Fuller is Ohio State’s to lose.

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Blake Fisher: Notre Dame Football’s Leading Recruiter

Brian Kelly, whose history with the Fuller family extends to Notre Dame recruiting Jordan’s older brother several years ago, will continue to pursue Fuller but this recruitment is beginning to look like an Ohio State and Michigan battle.

Jeffrey McCulloch

  • Hometown: Houston, TX
  • Position: LB
  • Star Ranking: Rivals 4-star; 24/7 4-star; ESPN 4-star
  • Top Offers: Alabama, Florida State, Ohio State
  • Trending:

Last week UHND reported Jeffrey McCulloch’s impressive Texas visit might lead to Notre Dame’s coaching staff moving on to concentrate on the remaining linebacker targets, but Brian Kelly seems willing to see McCulloch’s recruitment through until the end.

Although the 4-star linebacker has kept Notre Dame in the picture and indicated he’s willing to leave the Lone Star State, his actions have indicated otherwise. McCulloch held Texas A&M in his top spot until the troubles plaguing Aggies head coach Kevin Sumlin caused him to reconsider his options. Now, after a great visit to Austin, most experts believe Texas will be McCulloch’s ultimate destination, although he cancelled a trip to Alabama this weekend to take an official visit to Texas A&M.

Credit must be given to Brian Kelly’s persistence, but it’s hard to envision any scenario where McCulloch plays college football out of state.

Scott Janssen is a blogger for the Huffington Post and has written several nationally-featured articles, including an appearance as a sports contributor on MSNBC. He talks football 24 hours a day, much to the chagrin of his wife and those around him. Scott can be reached at scottjanssenhp@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter.

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9 Comments

  1. SFR–agree. Schemes are great when they work, and every coach uses them. But it’s not enough.

    I’m not on the fire BVG bandwagon–yet. It was only his 2nd year and I think he needs to be given a chance to adapt. I have seen some flashes of potential. The game against the Meatchickens (9) last year (well almost 2 now I guess) because of the shut out–and I do like his intensity on the field. It’s good to have a coach or two on the sideline with some intensity. And we have solved the triple option problem that used to vex us. I even like the high pressure-high blitz defense, when done right it can have huge rewards. I am a NY Giants fan and Steve Spagnuola used that to great effect in the 2008 playoffs. Tom Brady never knew who was coming after him next in the SB (love that Justin Tuck had a great game that day BTW–he was one of the few elite LBs to come out of ND during the D/W/W era). So it can be done.

    Now if he refused to admit he needs to make adjustments, that’s one thing–then you’d have no choice but to fire him because our defense needs work. But he’s a smart guy. He has to know it didn’t work. Hell, even Charlie Weis started to try different things after the disastrous 2007 year. Even he isn’t that obtuse.

  2. Kelly and his staff have already proven that they can recruit basic skill and talent then teach and develop it and use it to fill areas of need.

    Such as Troy Niklas, CJ Prosise, and Jerry Tillery.

  3. Unless we pick up some big strong fast dominant defense line men Notre Dame will never be a powerhouse. This year there are none of them insight and there have been no meaningful discussions. We need the same intensity on defense lineman as we have on offense line men year in and year out.

  4. 1 keep players healthy
    2Who is the DC that will get the kudos for a defense that stalls the zone read.
    3where,s the beef? Running back that is 240-245 pounds!
    Good year but team was not well prepared for OSU!

  5. What’s the difference who we get… Brian VanNo couldn’t win with the entire Denver defensive lineup. It was a thing of beauty to see what they did to Brady yesterday. What ND fan wouldn’t want to see that every Saturday? This time next year, you guys will be excusing another 79th ranked defense because of injuries.
    He may be able to ‘scheme’, but apparently he cannot teach. If you can’t get the message across what good are the schemes? Oh yeah, the other thing he cannot do is adapt to changing offensive schemes like, the hurry-up offense, or the no-substitution offense. If opposing offenses do not substitute, he cannot. Now he’s lost.
    I’ll be kind and just say… he’s over his head. It’s the end of January, Kelly for unknown reasons hasn’t fired him as yet, so the best we can hope for is that Kelly brings in another coach for some ‘game-time’ help for him. Maybe Kelly is waiting for after ‘signing day’? Let’s hope.

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