Blue and Gold Illustrated

April 2020

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

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40 APRIL 2020 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED FOOTBALL RECRUITING BY MIKE SINGER N otre Dame head coach Brian Kelly said in preparation for the Camp- ing World Bowl last December his program would tweak its recruiting efforts to take the next step. "We want to break out of the 15th- ranked or the 10th-ranked [class]," Kelly said, "and we want to get into that next echelon." The days of big official visit week- ends in the fall and in the weeks leading up to the first Wednesday in February are mostly gone. For Notre Dame, spring is the new winter in terms of being crunch time to build an elite class. People like to talk about how the early signing period has changed re- cruiting, but I'd argue that another recent rule change has made a much bigger impact on college football. And that would be the addition of official visits during April to June during a prospect's junior year. So many recruits now take their official visits during the spring/sum- mer period and get their recruiting process out of the way with a college commitment by the start of their se- nior campaign. By July 5, 2019, 16 of Notre Dame's 17 eventual signees in the class of 2020 had already committed to the Irish. Twelve of them took their offi- cial visit during the spring/summer period. For the most part, official visit talk for the 2021 class is in its early stages. Olney (Md.) Good Counsel offen- sive lineman Landon Tengwall, the No. 2 recruit in Maryland and the nation's No. 27 overall prospect per Rivals, is expected to take an unof- ficial trip to Notre Dame March 21 and return April 3 for an official visit. Denton (Texas) Guyer 's Deuce Harmon, Rivals' No. 38 prospect in the Lone Star State and No. 24 cor- nerback in the country, locked in a visit for the first weekend in April as well. He was going to officially visit in early March, but he and his family decided to make it in for an unofficial visit, which means it was on their own dime. A few Notre Dame commits have told Blue & Gold Illustrated that they're also planning to use their of- ficial visit prior to their senior year as well. The Irish will have official visi- tors during the weekends of April 3-5 and June 19-21. Several of the team's top targets, especially along the offensive line, will be visiting in March, many of whom will view a spring practice. Getting these prospects on campus and then convincing them to return for another trip before July, which be- gins a dead period until September, will be crucial for Notre Dame. Among the class of 2021 offen- sive line recruits confirmed to visit for the March 21 weekend are Lititz (Pa.) Warwick's Nolan Rucci, the country's No. 34 overall prospect; Clarkston (Mich.) High's Rocco Spin- dler and Garrett Dellinger, who are rated as the No. 55 and No. 155 over- all recruits in America, respectively, by Rivals; and the aforementioned Tengwall. These are Notre Dame's very top targets on the offensive line board. Avon (Ind.) High offensive lineman and Irish pledge Blake Fisher, who is on the cusp of five-star status and sits at No. 20 in Rivals' national rankings, will also visit that weekend. He has been highly vocal in recruiting other prospects to Notre Dame, especially along the offensive line. The only offered class of 2021 of- fensive line targets for the Irish who won't be in attendance for that re- cruiting weekend are Fairfax (Va.) Robinson's Tristan Leigh, Rivals' No. 26 overall recruit; Richmond (Texas) Foster 's Reuben Fatheree, the nation's No. 206 overall prospect; Orem (Utah) High's Kingsley Suama- taia, the No. 98 overall recruit in the land; and Ocala (Fla.) Trinity Catho- lic's Caleb Johnson, a Rivals three- star talent. Some of these prospects may end up scheduling Notre Dame visits in the near future, because of- fensive line coach Jeff Quinn is work- ing hard on the recruiting trail. Johnson, who is Notre Dame's newest offensive tackle offer, adding the Fighting Irish to his long offer list March 4, confirmed that he won't be able to make to South Bend until later this spring or summer. He is a Fort Wayne, Ind., native who has visited South Bend on multiple occa- sions already. This spring will be pivotal for Notre Dame's efforts to find a big- time defensive end or two as well. Blairstown (N.J.) Blair Academy's Aaron Armitage, who Rivals lists as the No. 2 recruit in the Garden State, Olney (Md.) Good Counsel product Landon Tengwall — the No. 2 recruit in Maryland, and the No. 5 offen- sive tackle and No. 27 overall player nationally according to Rivals — has two visits scheduled to Notre Dame this spring. PHOTO COURTESY RIVALS.COM Springtime Crucial For Notre Dame To Assemble An Elite 2021 Class

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