With 18 commitments already in the 2018 class, the list of football banquet recruiting visitors this year is centered more on camaraderie than progress. Even so, there are of course some uncommitted visitors in town who are key targets; unsurprisingly, they’re all at positions of need in this class. The Irish staff will attempt to close on some of them and make a big first impression on others.

Players who have already committed to ND are in italics; rankings are 247 Composite overall/position.

2018 Visitors

S Shayne Simon, #126/#7

DT Jayson Ademilola, #160/#12

CB Kyler Gordon, #210/#21

ATH Braden Lenzy, #212/#10

TE George Takacs, #251/#13

WR Micah Jones, #355/#57

OT Luke Jones, #480/#34 (Arkansas commit)

OLB Ovie Oghoufo, #505/#33

DT Ja’Mion Franklin, #530/#41

DE Justin Ademilola, #587/#31

OT John Dirksen, #597/#46

OT Cole Mabry, #663/#52

SDE Malik Langham, #719/#29

CB DJ Brown, NR/#116 (Virginia commit)

Visitor Notes

Kyler Gordon is the unquestioned headliner as Notre Dame’s top remaining cornerback target. Gordon already took an official visit to the Temple game with his mother. While the Irish are locked in a dogfight with home-state Washington, it speaks volumes that Gordon is visiting again on his own dime. Washington is recruiting Gordon extremely aggressively, but there’s a chance Todd Lyght can close on the highly coveted prospect this weekend.

Former Irish commit Braden Lenzy made some waves this week – he also became a former Oregon commit after Willie Taggart bolted Eugene for Tallahassee. Lenzy will be in town on an official visit this week. Oregon is still in play depending on what happens with their coaching search, and UCLA’s Chip Kelly has recently entered the picture as well. I give the Irish staff credit for taking Lenzy’s call; they’re clearly far less petulant than many fans, myself included. And even some politicians.

Stay classy, Bill…

Luke Jones has been committed to Arkansas since July, but that commitment is on extremely shaky ground given the upheaval in Fayetteville. Jones took an unofficial visit for the USC game and, like Gordon, his return visit is a pretty good sign for Notre Dame. If you’re curious, taking Jones has (a) nothing to do with how the staff feels about five-star tackle Nick Petit-Frere, and (b) no impact on a spot for Petit-Frere. They would take Petit-Frere, Jones, Mabry, and Dirksen if they could, and probably dance a jig about it too.

Alabaman Malik Langham is a late addition to the list after receiving an offer last week. He’s a high academic kid who is also considering Vandy – although he canceled an official visit to them this weekend and replaced them with Notre Dame, so… He seems very enthusiastic about Notre Dame, but Alabama muddied the waters here with an offer earlier this week. Langham grew up an Auburn fan, so it’s not like this is his childhood dream come true or anything. Even so, Notre Dame going head-to-head with an Alabama kid who Alabama wants? Yeah, I’m not overly optimistic.

DJ Brown is another late offer who immediately set up a visit to Notre Dame, despite his summer commitment to Virginia. Louisville also offered last week, and he already had offers from Missouri and Louisville – a couple of schools who know something about solid DB play. Brown goes to a high school that is very similar to Notre Dame, which could help the Irish here.

Update: Brown was a last minute scratch and will not reschedule. Feel free to read between the lines.

Other Notes

Let’s take a quick look at where the Irish stand with space in the class dwindling. It’ll be an interesting stretch run, for sure.

  • QB commits: Phil Jurkovec. Targets: None.
  • RB commits: Jahmir Smith. Targets: None, despite the recent decommitment of Markese Stepp. Of note, Stepp had only good things to say about the Irish staff, and the staff has been working with him for a while to find another landing spot. There’s a lot of mutual respect there.
  • OL commits: Cole Mabry, John Dirksen. Targets: Nick Petit-Frere, Luke Jones. Keep an eye on Jones this weekend, while Petit-Frere is expected to announce on signing day.
  • TE commits: George Takacs. Targets: Tommy Tremble. An announcement could come any time for Tremble. Whatever happens, the staff won’t target another TE.
  • WR commits: Kevin Austin, Micah Jones, Geordon Porter. Targets: Amon-Ra St. Brown, Chase Cota, Tommy Bush, Braden Lenzy, Lawrence Keys. There’s probably one spot left for anyone not named Amon-Ra, who will have a spot no matter what anyone else does.
  • DT commits: Jayson Ademilola, Ja’Mion Franklin. Targets: None.
  • SDE commits: None. Targets: Malik Langham.
  • WDE commits: Justin Ademilola. Targets: None. The purportedly academics-focused Jayson Oweh considered an official visit for the banquet, but nothing came of it. He just added an Alabama offer and is expected to visit them soon, which might put them in his top group with Ohio State and Penn State. Res ipsa loquitor.
  • ILB commits: Jack Lamb, Bo Bauer. Targets: Solomon Tuliaupupu. USC is still the favorite for Solo, but Notre Dame made a big impression on the family’s visit. And, as has generally been the case throughout history for the prolifically progenerative people of Hibernia, by all accounts the Irish have outworked the Trojans here.
  • OLB commits: Shayne Simon, Ovie Oghoufo. Targets: Amari Gainer. Gainer actually came off the board in the last couple of days – the Seminole commit was briefly on it after Jimbo left Florida State, but Taggart quickly pulled him back in. Of note here is that Simon is a rover prospect all the way, and Oghoufo could possibly grow into a WDE.
  • S commits: Derrik Allen, Paul Moala. Targets: None. Floridian BJ Crim looked like a good bet at one point, but it seems now that there won’t be room for him.
  • CB commits: Joe Wilkins. Targets: Houston Griffith, Kyler Gordon, Julius Irvin, Noah Boykin. How the Irish staff feels about their remaining CB targets is why there’s no room for Crim. Griffith’s eventual commitment seems a question of when, not if. The Irish seem to be in good position with Gordon. Irvin is probably a coin flip at best, but they also are in good position to flip Boykin from Maryland. Quite the derby going on here. And yes, Notre Dame would definitely take six DBs in this class.

Of note, all the current Notre Dame commits are expected to sign on the new early signing day, December 20th. When asked recently about it, Brian Kelly said, “We’re going to recruit you like you’re not committed.” He didn’t say he would dump the prospect, rather that the prospect would be treated as a target who still needed to be recruited. I think that’s a very fair approach, as contrasted with Pitt’s Pat Narduzzi – he basically said the Pitt commits better sign early or else. Or else what, Pat? How much leverage do you have here? Silliness.

Anyway, with the size of the current class and their expected early signing, the Irish staff will be able to devote a ton of focus to the handful of remaining targets for the stretch run. Buckle up, buttercups.