The roller coaster ride that is Notre Dame’s 2020 recruiting class lately continued today when Jay Brunelle jumped on board. The 6’1″, 200-pound Massachusettan camped at Notre Dame a few weeks ago in search of a much-desired offer; the staff did indeed extend an offer, but there were rumors of conditions attached that made it less interesting. Brunelle just took an official visit to Michigan, who had been pushing for him much longer, and they surged into the lead with some more rumors that a commitment might be imminent. Within literally hours everything changed; Jalen McMillan committed to Washington (boo!), shaking up Notre Dame’s receiver board, and the staff returned to Brunelle in earnest. Obviously his first love made enough of an impression with that return to wipe out all of Michigan’s hard work, which… Heh.
Although there’s some question as to how high Brunelle’s star might rise, there’s no question that it is in fact rising. Michigan, as noted, has been pushing hard for him for a while, and Notre Dame showed much more interest after his camp performance. He also camped at UCLA a couple of weeks ago and earned an offer there. He put up very solid testing numbers at the New Jersey Opening regional in April: a 4.56 40, 4.25 shuttle, and a 38.4″ vertical. He’s not Jalen McMillan by any means, and I don’t intend to sugarcoat that loss, but the Irish could certainly do worse than Brunelle.
“Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.”
C O M M I T T E D
— JAY BRUNELLE¹ (@jabrunie) June 26, 2019
The Roller Coaster
I would be remiss not to note the details of the aforementioned 2020 roller coaster ride. It’s been a doozie.
- May 23rd – RB Chris Tyree commits to Notre Dame after an April dalliance with Oklahoma subsided.
- May 24th – DE Braiden McGregor trashes Notre Dame’s up-to-the-last-moment recruitment of him by announcing a weeks-old silent commitment to Michigan.
- June 11th – CB Clarence Lewis commits to Notre Dame.
- June 16th – OT Michael Carmody commits to Notre Dame and cancels a planned official visit to Ohio State.
- June 21st – CB Clark Phillips commits to Ohio State.
- June 24th – CB Landen Bartleson commits to Notre Dame.
- June 25th – WR Jalen McMillan commits to Washington.
- June 26th – WR AJ Henning commits to Michigan.
There are rumors of a couple of silent commits to the Irish as well. Brunelle, Lewis, and Bartleson are all lower-on-the-board guys than Phillips, McMillan, and Henning, so again, I’m not saying there’s a net zero effect there. But it has certainly been an up and down ride.
Recruiting Service Rankings
247Sports Composite — 3 star (.8577), #825 overall, #138 WR, #8 in MA
247Sports — 3 star (86 rating), #724 overall, #125 WR, #8 in MA
Rivals — 3 star (5.6 rating), NR overall, NR WR, #10 in MA
ESPN — Not yet evaluated
Irish Sports Daily — 3 star (88 rating)
In addition to Notre Dame, Michigan, and UCLA, Brunelle holds offers from Boston College, Wake Forest, West Virginia, Harvard, and Yale, among others.
Brunelle has some pretty good stuff on tape; unfortunately for him (and other Bay State players), level of competition was always going to be a question and is probably why Notre Dame and other programs didn’t offer based just off his tape. For example, does he look fast because he’s fast, or because everyone else is slow? With his 4.56 40 at the Opening and reportedly two sub-4.5 40s at Notre Dame’s camp, I think we can reasonably conclude that he has good speed. On tape he’s not blazing but he’s fast enough to go the distance if he gets some space. He shows good body control, fearlessness over the middle, and good moves in traffic.
Teams press him a lot, judging from this video, and he does a good job getting off it. He’ll need to muscle up at the next level to continue that, but the fact that he can do it now is a good sign. His route-running needs polish; way too many rounded-off routes for my taste. That’s coachable, though, and I think he has the agility to make higher-quality cuts. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, he showed in spots here and also in his camp performances that he has some swagger, which I would always welcome to a Notre Dame team. One of the highlights of his Notre Dame camp showing, in fact, was catching a ball over/around a guy who fell down trying to defend it, and then stepping over the guy Iverson-style. Love it.
In all likelihood, Brunelle won’t get much of a chance to see the field right away. We’ll see if actual play in the 2019 season confirms this, but as of right now it looks like Notre Dame may have hit on at least three of the 2018 receiver signees; Kevin Austin is poised to play a major role this year, while Lawrence Keys and Braden Lenzy are virtually assured of seeing plenty of action as well. All should be front-line contributors in 2020; while fellow 2018 signee Micah Jones, 2019 signees Kendall Abdur-Rahman and Cam Hart, and 2020 five-star commit Jordan Johnson should play a 2020 role as well.
That’s good news for Brunelle. as he’ll have a path to better development if he can use 2020 to grow and learn. It’s hard to know exactly how Brunelle will fit down the line; given his athletic ability, though, I could see him entering the rotation as an upperclassman.
Welcome to the Irish family, Jay!