Blue and Gold Illustrated

Sept. 10, 2018

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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Page 44 of 55 SEPT. 10, 2018 45 FOOTBALL RECRUITING Notre Dame is putting in a ton of effort to pull Trice from the West, but it will need to make a strong impression during the entirety of his recruitment. Oregon, Washington, UCLA and TCU round out his top group, and the Ducks are expecting to receive an official visit the weekend of Sept. 22. More names are likely to emerge this fall, but one player to keep an eye on is Solon (Ohio) High end Nate Leskovec, who visited Notre Dame this summer. The 6-3, 245-pounder is listed by Rivals as the No. 28 player in the Buckeye State and the No. 61 strongside defensive end nationally. Leskovec doesn't hold an offer from Notre Dame, but is a player the staff will monitor. Notre Dame entering the mix could be a game-changer for the three-star, who holds offers from Northwestern, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Wake Forest, Boston College, Harvard and Penn, among others. The staff could also put the full court press on players such as Ty Robinson of Gilbert (Ariz.) Higley or another former target who puts together a strong senior campaign. The 6-6, 255-pound Robinson is ranked as a four-star talent, the No. 4 prospect in Arizona, and the No. 12 strongside defensive end and No. 134 overall player in the nation by Rivals. Notre Dame could also try to flip a player. The Irish's current starting ends — juniors Khalid Kareem (Alabama) and Daelin Hayes (USC) — were committed to other schools heading into their senior high school seasons. Defensive end is expected to be the position the Irish staff focuses most of its attention on for the remainder of the 2019 cycle. THE IRISH CAN TURN THEIR ATTENTION TO THE 2020 CLASS September will be a big month in the recruiting world with prospects taking visits during home game weekends and the contact period allowing coaches to begin reaching out to the junior class. The good news for Notre Dame is their strong spring and summer with the 2019 class will allow its staff to put a ton of focus on 2020 prospects during the fall. Notre Dame is already finished recruiting two positions after landing pledges from New Canaan (Conn.) High four-star quarterback Drew Pyne, Red Bank (N.J.) Catholic four- star tight end Kevin Bauman and Alexandria (Ky.) Covington Catholic four-star tight end Michael Mayer. Building relationships is a key ingredient of the recruiting process, and the staff's ability to spend more time on 2020 recruits could pay huge dividends. This can go a long way for fringe prospects — players who may have a little bit of interest in the Irish, but not enough to eventually make a visit. Notre Dame's extra attention could be the push needed to secure a trip to South Bend and get the opportunity to impress the student- athlete in person. The speeding up of the recruiting process makes it imperative staffs connect with prospects quicker than ever. Notre Dame is in prime position to get a head start and position itself squarely in the mix for its top targets. Among the prospects on the Irish radar are Milford (Mass.) High offensive lineman Kevin Pyne, Rivals' No. 21 overall player in the country; Bellevue (Wash.) Eastside Catholic wide receiver Gee Scott Jr., the No. 63 overall recruit nationally; Frankfort (Ill.) Lincoln-Way East running back AJ Henning, the nation's No. 68 overall player; and Milton (Mass.) Academy linebacker Kalel Mullings, who is the No. 82 overall player nationally. Notre Dame has hosted each target over the past year, including Henning and Mullings multiple times in 2018. Pyne is the cousin of Irish quarterback commit Drew Pyne. ✦ Solon (Ohio) High product Nate Leskovec is a 2019 prospect the Irish will keep a close eye on this fall should they decide to expand their board at defensive end. Rivals rates him as a three-star recruit, the No. 28 player in Ohio and the No. 61 strongside defensive end nationally. PHOTO COURTESY RIVALS.COM Milford (Mass.) High offensive tackle Kevin Pyne, the nation's No. 3 offensive tackle and No. 21 overall player according to Rivals, is one of Notre Dame's top targets in the 2020 class. PHOTO COURTESY RIVALS.COM

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