If you haven’t already seen it, last week I reviewed my way-too-early guess at Notre Dame’s class of 2019. I also promised you guys another way-too-early guess at Notre Dame’s recruiting class for 2020 — and here it is. The Notre Dame football staff has been recruiting the 2020 cycle very hard since the end of the early signing period (one of the perks of having 95% of your recruiting class signed in December), and they’ve made some nice progress with a ton of top talent in the class already.
Considering the scholarship numbers crunch, a smaller class size of around 20 or so seems like a safe guess. That number might end up being even less, but it feels like the staff has been willing to push it with numbers over the past couple of years. With 5 commits already in the fold, that would mean the class is about a quarter of the way full already in mid-February. And we’re likely to expect a commit or two in the weeks following the upcoming Junior Day on February 23rd or some of the other visits prospects are taking shortly thereafter.
Enough with the introductions, though. Let’s get to this best guess…
Drew Pyne — CT — 6’1″/170 — .9494
- Probably the only knock you could find on this kid is his lack of ideal size. He throws a pretty ball, possesses pretty good mobility, and has that gunslinger mentality to him. He’s been a Notre Dame fan since he was a small child, so I’d be surprised if anyone were able to sway him from this commitment.
Other names to keep an eye on: none
Tirek Murphy — NY — 6’0″/220 — .9024
- A big, strong kid who seems to greatly value academics. His top 2 right now looks like Notre Dame and Michigan (not necessarily in that order). Running back is going to be a difficult projection to make considering Lance Taylor was just recently announced as the running backs coach this week.
Other names to keep an eye on: Chris Tyree (.9865), Bijan Robinson (.9855), Michael Drennen (.9299), Reggie Love (.8940)
Running Back / Wide Receiver
AJ Henning — IL — 5’10″/175 — .9757
- This is just a kid who, no matter where you put him, you just want to get the ball in his hands. He’s electric with the ball in his hands and possesses elite speed. Notre Dame is recruiting him as a bit of an athlete, someone who could line up at either running back or receiver. If he had to pick today, most people would have him pegged to ND. It’s going to be a lot of work to keep it that way.
Jordan Johnson — MO — 6’2″/180 — .9765
- The Irish have built up a nice lead for themselves here. He even cancelled an unofficial visit to Alabama last month so he could visit South Bend again. Johnson is exactly what you’d want in a #1 receiver. He runs excellent routes at this stage in his career and he’s a true deep threat who will go up and get the football. Notre Dame has put themselves in excellent position to land him when he announces in late July.
Jalen McMillan — CA — 6’2″/180 — .9666
- I went back and forth on whether to include him in this prediction. On the one hand, all reports are that he’s the kind of kid that would be a perfect fit for Notre Dame (the Irish even lead his crystal ball predictions on 247). But on the other, he has yet to visit South Bend at this point, he’s from Fresno, and three top 100 receivers sounds too good to be true. He’s set to visit in the spring, so whichever way this recruitment develops, it should start to unfold within the next couple of months.
Other names to keep an eye on: Daniel Jackson (.9074), Maliq Carr (.8800), Justin Robinson (.8789), Xavier Watts (.8556)
Michael Mayer — KY — 6’5″/240 — .9534
- Pretty similar profile to Cole Kmet. Heck of an athlete and should end up being a match-up nightmare in the passing game. Pretty much every big-time program in the eastern half of the United States was after him. The Irish landed a good one.
Kevin Bauman — NJ — 6’5″/240 — .9476
- I made a Kmet comparison for Mayer, it would only be fitting to compare Kevin Bauman to Brock Wright. He’s more of an all-around tight end at this stage that Mayer is, much like Wright was compared to Kmet as a recruit. More polished as an in-line blocker, but a bit less of a threat as a receiver. An excellent complement to Mayer.
Other names to keep an eye on: none
Zak Zinter — MA — 6’6″/300 — .9450
- High academic kid with Ivy League offers. Was offered pretty recently and really seems to hold the Irish in high regard. Notre Dame is looking at him as an interior prospect to play either guard or center.
Tosh Baker — AZ — 6’8″/275 — .8689
- I’ve said this numerous times before, but I’m a HUGE proponent of recruiting tall, athletic basketball players to play offensive tackle. Baker fits this profile perfectly. This is going to be a very tough pull as Baker has blown up as a national recruit already, but the Irish have themselves in good position right now.
Jimmy Christ — VA — 6’7″/280 — .8789
- He should be Irish based on the name alone. Another tall, lean, athletic tackle prospect. Notre Dame is recruiting these types of guys hard this cycle. Christ is another kid with an offer list that far exceeds his recruiting rankings at this point. This will be another tough pull for the Irish, but again, they’re in good position right now.
Andrew Gentry — CO — 6’8″/310 — .9492
- One more tall, athletic tackle prospect for you. This is a kid that recently visited Notre Dame and loved it. One thing to consider with him, though, is the fact that he is a Latter Day Saint kid who fully intends on taking his 2-year mission at this point — which means he wouldn’t actually count against Notre Dame’s scholarship numbers until 2022. So far, that doesn’t seem to be deterring the Irish. But that could change in time. He might also just find he feels more comfortable at a place like BYU. Tough to read at this point, but Notre Dame is definitely a top school for him.
Other names to keep an eye on: Paris Johnson (.9976), Bryn Tucker (.9673), Reece Atteberry (.9134), Roger Rosengarten (.8739), Peter Skoronski (.8950)
Alexander Ehrensberger — GERM — 6’7″/240 — .8000
- Notre Dame’s first defensive commit of the class. A raw, but extremely high-upside prospect that could end up developing into an absolute nightmare for offenses in a few years.
Braiden McGregor — MI — 6’5″/250 — .8939
- One of the top defensive targets for Notre Dame at this point. Possesses the athleticism to play drop end, but will likely grow to play strong side. Underrated for a low 4-star at this stage. The Irish are currently in a fierce battle with Michigan for his services.
Other names to keep an eye on: Jalen Logan-Redding (.8628), Xavier Carlton (.9112), Deontae Craig (.8696), Jaheim Thomas (.9097)
Defensive End / Defensive Tackle
Rylie Mills — IL — 6’5″/275 — .9466
- Listed by the recruiting services as a strong side defensive end, but he could easily grow into playing tackle. He already possesses the power and strength of a guy that’s been in a college-level weight room for a year. This is a big-time recruit with offers from top programs all over the country, but the Irish are perceived as a heavy leader at this point.
Aidan Keanaaina — CO — 6’3″/300 — .8972
- The newest commit to join Notre Dame’s class of 2020. The Big Kahuna is a powerful force to be reckoned with on the interior. Destined to play nose tackle at the college level.
Other names to keep an eye on: Coziah Izzard (.9408)
Cody Simon — NJ — 6’1″/210 — .8914
- The younger brother of current Notre Dame linebacker Shayne Simon. He had a breakout junior season at St Peter’s Prep this past fall, and he’s been seen as a Notre Dame lock by pretty much everyone for months now.
Cullen Coleman — NY — 6’3″/220 — Not Yet Rated
- This is a bit of a projection as he’s one of the more recent offers and has yet to visit Notre Dame, but he just strikes me as exactly the kind of kid who’d end up in South Bend. He’s already got a visit scheduled for the end of March. A high-academic kid with offers from Ivy League schools as well as other programs like Michigan, Ohio State, and Nebraska — there’s a bit of a debate as to what position would best fit him. There’s a chance he could grow into a drop end, but he’s reportedly run a legit 40 somewhere in the 4.5’s at 220 pounds. That kind of athleticism might be best suited for linebacker.
Other names to keep an eye on: Kalel Mullings (.9535), Jordan Botelho (.9392)
Jalen Huff — GA — 6’1″/170 — .8739
- This is a big projection, as Huff was a recent offer and he’s been committed to Oklahoma since November. But he’s pretty open about listening to other schools at this point and he plans to visit Notre Dame some time in the spring. Notre Dame has also recruited the state of Georgia very well these last couple of years, and Huff knows Derrik Allen as they played together on a 7-on-7 team a couple years back.
Dontae Manning — MO — 6’0″/175 — .8556
- This is another big projection here, as Manning was only offered by Notre Dame very recently. The speedster seems to really like Clark Lea, though, and he plans to visit ND in the near future. If Lea’s got a hand in this recruitment, I like our chances.
Other names to keep an eye on: Jalen Kimber (.8728), Clark Phillips (.9756), Fred Davis (.9813), Eric Reed (.8954), Max Lenzy (.9044)
Lathan Ransom — AZ — 6’2″/185 — .9240
- This is probably the top target for Notre Dame at safety. Ideal length and range for a free safety. He will be visiting South Bend later this month for Junior Day, and I just have a gut feeling the Irish will make a big move. Stanford and USC are probably the biggest competition right now, but USC is in dumpster fire mode, and I think Stanford is (finally) on the verge of taking a step back and not being such a huge pain in our ass.
Alaka’i Gilman — HI — 5’11″/190 — .8416
- The younger brother of PFF’s highest graded college safety in 2018, Alohi Gilman. He hasn’t received his Notre Dame offer yet, but he’s a ball hawk and an instinctive football player just like his brother. Also, let’s keep the Hawaiian pipeline going, please.
Other names to keep an eye on: Enzo Jennings (.9492), Elijah Gaines (.8800), Jordan Morant (.9322)
Total signees: 21
Scholarship Impact: 20 (2020), 1 (2022)
Easiest position to project: Aside from the obvious ones like quarterback and tight end, I’d probably go with either wide receiver or defensive end. I wouldn’t be surprised if the actual signees ended up a tad different, but we know the Irish are in good position with a few of their top targets at both positions. I struggled at times with whether I should include this recruit, or have him swap places with that one. But I think there’s a pretty good chance any guys the Irish sign at the positions are at least in my “other names to keep an eye on” category.
Hardest position to project: Easily cornerback. The staff just recently sent out a ton of offers at the position within the last month, and it’s really difficult at this point to gauge interest level of the guys we’ve offered. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if this ends up being a total whiff.
Guy from the “other names to keep an eye on” category I’d most like to see in this class: Chris Tyree. He possesses the blazing speed Notre Dame desperately needs at running back right now. Bijan Robinson would be a close second. These are two guys that have early interest in Notre Dame (the Irish are probably in Tyree’s top 3 right now). It’ll be up to newly-announced RB coach Lance Taylor to prove his recruiting ability.