Blue and Gold Illustrated

Nov. 14, 2020

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

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44 NOV. 14, 2020 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED FOOTBALL RECRUITING BY MIKE SINGER N otre Dame has 19 verbal com- mitments in the 2021 class, al- though that number is expected to decrease by one. Mansfield (Texas) Legacy's Da- vid Abiara, who Rivals ranks as the No. 24 strong-side defensive end in the country, is no longer expected to sign with the Irish. Af- ter several months of a rumored decommitment, Abiara and the Notre Dame staff got back on the same page in October, but then the three-star recruit was charged with criminal trespassing. It's hard to gauge just how many more players Notre Dame can take in the 2021 class. The as- sessment has been that the Irish would ink 20-22 prospects, but the NCAA gave an extra year of eligi- bility to fall athletes. It's unknown at this point how exactly that will affect Notre Dame's roster. Additionally, the Irish have had five players enter the trans- fer portal since late August, cre- ating more space on the scholar- ship chart. It's possible that the NCAA ap- proves a one-time transfer policy fol- lowing the season, which would al- low student-athletes to move schools once without penalty. Gauging just how many more re- cruits the Irish can take in the 2021 class is difficult, and Notre Dame may be in the graduate transfer mar- ket as well to fill immediate needs. Arguably the Irish's most impor- tant position in the cycle is defen- sive back, and Los Angeles Loyola's Ceyair Wright, who is America's No. 95 overall recruit per Rivals, is at the top of the board. USC is con- sidered the favorite, but Wright is looking at taking a self-guided tour of Notre Dame's campus with his mother the weekend of Dec. 5. Ewa Beach (Hawai'i) Campbell's Titus Mokiao-Atimalala, who Ri- vals lists as a four-star recruit and the No. 49 wide receiver nationally, is another key target. The Irish are recruiting him as an athlete, and the staff views his upside as the biggest at safety. Mokiao-Atimalala has only vis- ited three schools (Hawai'i, UCF and USC), and he's still considering each of them. The NCAA's dead period, which does not allow any in-person contact between prospective student-athletes and college coaches, is set to run through the end of this calendar year. Mokiao-Atimalala plans to skip the December signing period and hopes to take visits in January. Another big Hawaiian target for the Irish is Honolulu Punahou's Ka- hanu Kia, a three-star linebacker per Rivals, who visited Notre Dame's campus for the weekend of the Clem- son game for a self-guided tour. The Irish are in strong position, but will have to beat out Stanford, UCLA and Utah. Notre Dame could flip a familiar name for Fighting Irish fans from USC. Valrico (Fla.) Bloomingdale's Philip Riley, Rivals' No. 24 corner- back and No. 241 overall recruit in the nation, committed to the Irish in May before flipping to the Trojans in Sep- tember. The Notre Dame staff has not given up its pursuit of Riley and could get him back in the fold. It's very possible that Notre Dame offers more defensive back recruits in the 2021 class, and the staff has been in contact with Atlanta Riverwood's Khalil Anderson, a Pittsburgh commit- ment who is rated as the No. 52 cornerback in the country. Notre Dame is considering tak- ing a second running back to go along with Metairie (La.) Rum- mel's Logan Diggs, the No. 21 player at the position according to Rivals. We s t B l o o m f i e l d ( M i c h . ) High's Donovan Edwards re- mains on the wish list, but the nation's No. 2 running back and No. 65 prospect per Rivals is not expected to land at Notre Dame. The staff is considering several more running back recruits, in- cluding Oklahoma State commit Jaden Mixon, a Rivals three-star talent, and Michigan State verbal Audric Estime, the No. 10 run- ning back and No. 215 overall prospect nationally. The Notre Dame staff also seems to be in a "best available" mode fin- ishing the 2021 class. The Irish don't need another interior defensive line- man, but the staff offered Highland Springs (Va.) High's Kelvin Gilliam, the country's No. 7 defensive tackle and No. 79 overall prospect accord- ing to Rivals, in October. Gilliam has been committed to Oklahoma since August, and the Irish have an uphill battle to flip him. Auburn pledge Caleb Johnson from Ocala (Fla.) Trinity Catholic is another name to know. Johnson, whom Rivals ranks as the No. 34 of- fensive tackle in the land, has been in contact with Irish offensive line coach Jeff Quinn ever since he made his commitment in May. Johnson is a Fort Wayne, Ind., na- tive and has been to Notre Dame's campus a few times. Notre Dame may add a couple of the players mentioned or it could land none of them. The stretch run should be exciting for Irish fans to follow in an unprecedented recruit- ing cycle. ✦ Among the recruits Notre Dame is looking at to fill out its 2021 class is Ocala (Fla.) Trinity Catholic's Caleb Johnson, who is Rivals' No. 34 offensive tackle nationally and an Auburn commit. PHOTO COURTESY RIVALS.COM Notre Dame Has Options On Finishing Out The 2021 Class

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