Notre Dame football received a big surprise Friday afternoon when 4-star wide receiver TJ Sheffield decided to verbally commit to the Fighting Irish. The 5-10/170-pounder out of Independence, TN is the 18th commit for Notre Dame’s Recruiting Class of 2019 — a class which currently ranks 6th overall in the 247 Composite Team Rankings.
— Tj Sheffield (@the_tj2) July 6, 2018
This is a commitment that pretty much nobody was expecting to happen today. I mean, we knew he was scheduled to make a decision today, but basically everybody had assumed that he was going to announce for another school. The perception was that Notre Dame had not been recruiting TJ all that hard recently, and Tom Loy from 247 had even tossed in a crystal ball prediction for Purdue not even a week ago on July 2nd.
The commitment tweet itself is interesting as well. TJ clearly states that he will be taking official visits to several colleges to confirm his decision, which brings to question the firmness of this commitment. Normally the Irish staff tries to get their commits to shut it down after making a public commitment, so we will see if things change on that front.
Recruiting Service Rankings
Rivals — 3 star (5.7 rating), NR nationally, #56 WR, # 16 in TN
ESPN — 4 star (84 rating), #130 overall, #12 WR, #4 in TN
247Sports — 4 star (90 rating), #261 overall, #39 WR, #10 in TN
247Sports Composite — 4 star (.9115), #236 overall, #39 WR, #9 in TN
TJ chose the Irish over other offers from Tennessee, Purdue, Ohio State, Penn State, Stanford, Louisville, Arkansas, Georgia Tech, Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ole Miss, Vanderbilt, Virginia Tech, and Wake Forest.
TJ’s junior highlights mostly show him either lined up in the slot or in the backfield, though he play out wide a bit as well. At slot he mostly catches screen passes or works his way over the middle of the field. At running back, he takes a lot of counters and tries to get around the outside shoulder of the tackles and into space. He’s a good athlete — not a guy who will blow the top off the defense, but he’s really quick. He has really good body control and shows a great ability to adjust to the football in the air. For being a bit on the smaller side, he’s a fighter. He’s not afraid to make contact, or get hit as he catches the ball, or fight through tackles for extra yardage. Looks like he plays with an attitude that would be a welcome addition to the Notre Dame locker room.
It will be interesting to see how this affects wide receiver recruiting for Notre Dame moving forward. The thought was that Notre Dame was only looking for two receivers in the class of 2019, but that may no longer be the case. Sheffield and Cam Hart could both theoretically play on either side of the ball, but they were recruited to play offense. Also, with TJ still wanting to take numerous official visits, there’s a definite chance the Notre Dame staff continues to recruit the position until he completely shuts it down.
TJ is definitely a talented athlete and, assuming he sticks in his commitment, he would make a positive addition to the Notre Dame receiving corps. He probably wouldn’t get heavily into the rotation his freshman year, though he likely will play some on offense and special teams with the new redshirt rules. But anyway…
Welcome to the Irish family, TJ!