Blue and Gold Illustrated

January 2020

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

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42 JANUARY 2020 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED PREP PROFILES Notre Dame was expressing interest in Gardena (Calif.) Serra class of 2021 athlete Devin Kirkwood and wanted to have him out for a visit, but making a trip from Southern California out to South Bend, Ind., when he was play- ing on Friday nights wasn't easy. But after Kirkwood's season wrapped up, he was able to make it out to Notre Dame, and he saw the Fighting Irish's 40-7 victory versus Boston College Nov. 23. Kirkwood received big news during his visit. "We were hanging out with the coaches after we did the photo shoot," Kirkwood said. "One of the coaches told me that Coach Kelly wanted me to come into his office for a little bit. I was just thinking that he was thank- ing everybody who came out for the visit. I thought there would be like 15 other people in there, but it was just me and my mom with him. "He told us to sit down, and he said that he really liked how I came out there even on late notice and likes how I play on the field and carry my- self off the field. He said that I had a good GPA and said, 'By the way, we're going to offer you.' "I responded and said, 'Are you serious?!' And he said yes. I was so excited. All of this hard work is pay- ing off." During an interview with Blue & Gold Illustrated, it was very evident in Kirkwood's voice that he was fired up about his offer from the Fighting Irish. "They're different from other schools," he explained. "They treat their players different and actually care about their education. They take care of their players and family mem- bers. They make sure you stay on top of your grades, and football isn't everything." Kirkwood spent time with Notre Dame wide receivers coach Del Alex- ander and safeties coach Terry Joseph during the visit. "I loved it," Kirkwood said. "I loved how the team was so in sync. I love how the coaches were so welcoming to everybody. They treated me like I was already part of the family." According to Kirkwood, the Irish like him as an athlete, as he could play either wide receiver or safety at the next level. Notre Dame joined the likes of Ari- zona State, BYU, Michigan, Oregon State, USC and Utah on his offer sheet. — Mike Singer After Notre Dame wrapped up its 2019 regular season with a 45-24 tri- umph versus Stanford Nov. 30, the coaching staff hit the recruiting trail. Notre Dame's 10 assistant coaches stopped in at high schools across the country to gather information about new recruits and check in on some of their top targets. Even head coach Brian Kelly was on the road for in- home visits with commitments in the 2020 class. Fighting Irish cornerbacks coach Todd Lyght spent time in California and Texas recruiting, and one of his stops was at Downey (Calif.) War- ren. The top prospect at the school is class of 2021 defensive back Xa- marion Gordon. The 6-2, 190-pounder had a quick interaction with Lyght, and it re- sulted in an offer from Notre Dame. It was a big surprise to Gordon. "My coach told me that Notre Dame was coming, but I didn't think they were going to offer me on the spot," Gordon said. Gordon doesn't know too much about the Irish just yet, but what the knowledge he does have has him fired up about his new offer. "I was just really excited," Gor- don stated. "I felt really blessed in the moment. Notre Dame has great academics and have been competing well out on the field. "The thing that really stands out for me about Notre Dame is their graduation rate is like 96 percent for African Americans. That is just — wow." When Gordon met Lyght, it was 2021 recruit's first in-person commu- nication with a Notre Dame coach. Gordon enjoyed the brief interaction. "He knows what he's talking about and is successful," Gordon said. "We really connected." According to Gordon, the Fight- ing Irish didn't offer him at a spe- cific defensive back position. He is a versatile prospect who can play cornerback, nickel, or safety at the next level. "Most schools are looking at me to play everything," Gordon explained. "They think I can be a good fit ev- erywhere. It's just a matter of what's happening on the field and what the situation is." Gordon holds offers from Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, Oklahoma, Oregon, Oregon State, USC, Utah and Washington State in addition to Notre Dame. He's being pursued hard by the schools that have offered him. "All of the schools are showing love right now," he said. — Mike Singer Notre Dame Treated 2021 California Athlete Like Family Versatile Golden State Defensive Back Excited By Irish Offer "I loved it. I loved how the team was so in sync. I love how the coaches were so welcoming to everybody. They treated me like I was already part of the family." Kirkwood on his Notre Dame visit XAMARION GORDON ✪ ✪ ✪ Warren H.S. Downey, Calif. Status: Offered Class: 2021 Position: Safety Ht.: 6-2 • Wt.: 190 Rivals Rankings: Currently unrated DEVIN KIRKWOOD ✪ ✪ ✪ Serra H.S. Gardena, Calif. Status: Offered Class: 2021 Position: Athlete Ht.: 6-4 • Wt.: 175 Rivals Rankings: No. 46 prospect in California

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