Blue and Gold Illustrated

May 2021 Issue*

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

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28 MAY 2021 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED FOOTBALL RECRUITING BY MIKE SINGER T hrough the first week of April, the NCAA had not made a decision on whether or not its recruiting "dead pe- riod" would be extended past May 3. Last March, the NCAA en- acted an emergency dead period due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and it has been in place ever since. The dead pe- riod does not allow for any in-person contact between col- lege coaches and prospective student-athletes. Coaches can't hit the road to evaluate recruits during a dead period, nor can prospects take visits to univer- sities to tour facilities, meet the coaches, etc. The best a prospect can do is take a self-guided tour of a campus, just as any other citizen can. For example, Hilton Head (S.C.) High's Jaylen Sneed, the nation's No. 8 outside linebacker and No. 63 overall player, flew to Indianapo- lis and drove up to South Bend on March 22 to get a feel for Notre Dame. "We looked around all of campus and saw the buildings," Sneed said. "I really liked the size of the cam- pus and how pretty it is. It's a great school with a lot of tradition." The days of self-guided tours seem to be numbered. There is a growing sense of optimism that official visits will be able to occur in the month of June. In fact, Notre Dame is already scheduling tentative visit dates with a handful of its top targets in the 2022 class. • One of Notre Dame's top wide receiver targets — Santa Ana (Ca- lif.) Mater Dei's CJ Williams — has already locked in three official visit dates. The Irish will get the first crack at him on the weekend of June 4. Ohio State will host him the following weekend, and Williams plans to check out Texas on the weekend of June 18. Williams — who Rivals ranks as the No. 3 wide re- ceiver and No. 27 overall prospect in the country — holds 50 scholarship offers, but the work Irish wide receivers coach Del Alexander has done in this recruitment has put Notre Dame in strong contention. • Notre Dame landed its first run- ning back pledge in the 2022 cycle when Denison (Texas) High's Jadar- ian Price, the nation's No. 5 all-pur- pose back and No. 230 overall player, committed to Notre Dame in Febru- ary. The Irish are looking to pair him with another talented back, and it looks like the staff will have one on campus each weekend in June. Fort Worth (Texas) Timber Creek's Emeka Megwa, a four-star recruit and the No. 22 running back in the land per Rivals, is likely to visit the first weekend of June. Memphis (Tenn.) Christian Broth- ers' Dallan Hayden, the No. 12 run- ning back and No. 159 overall pros- pect nationally, is scheduled to be at Notre Dame during the weekend of June 11. The following weekend, Shillington (Pa.) Governor Mifflin's Nicholas Single- ton, the No. 9 running back and No. 126 overall recruit in America, will visit Notre Dame for a third time, with his prior two unofficial visits being back in the fall of 2019. On June 25, Highlands Ranch (Colo.) Valor Christian's Gavin Sawchuk, who Rivals views as the nation's No. 2 running back and No. 44 overall pros- pect, will see Notre Dame. • Blue & Gold Illustrated has confirmed that two big offen- sive tackle targets for the Irish will be at Notre Dame in June. Las Vegas Bishop Gorman's Jake Taylor, a four-star player and the No. 37 tackle in the country, narrowed his recruit- ment down to Alabama, Notre Dame and Oklahoma earlier this spring. He has set official visit dates to Notre Dame June 11 and Oklahoma June 18. Taylor has not scheduled an of- ficial for Alabama yet but will likely be in Tuscaloosa, Ala., either the first or final weekend of June. Huber Heights (Ohio) Wayne — which is the same high school that Irish assistant coaches Marcus Free- man and Mike Mickens attended — is home to Aamil Wagner, the na- tion's No. 29 offensive tackle and No. 198 overall prospect. He plans to officially visit Ohio State June 4 and Notre Dame June 18. Penn State is likely to host him as well. • Two of Notre Dame's top defen- sive back targets will be in South Bend in June. Pleasant Hill (Iowa) Southeast Polk's Xavier Nwankpa, the nation's No. 8 safety and No. 84 overall recruit, will make a trip to Notre Dame June 18. The four-star recruit is considered an Ohio State lean, but the Irish staff is doing all it can to land the coveted player. Phoenix Brophy Prep's Ben- jamin Morrison, the No. 27 cornerback and No. 249 over- all prospect in America, is looking at getting to Notre Dame June 11. The Irish are battling with Alabama and others for Morrison. ✦ Notre Dame Is Gearing Up For Big Summer Of Visits RIVALS 2022 TEAM RECRUITING RANKINGS As of April 5 1. Ohio State 11 2. Georgia 12 3. LSU 11 4. Notre Dame 11 5. Oklahoma 7 6. Texas A&M 8 7. Penn State 8 8. Texas 7 9. Rutgers 10 10. Florida State 7 Rk. School Commits Rk. School Commits The Fighting Irish will host Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei's CJ Williams, the nation's No. 3 wide receiver and No. 27 overall player, if visits open up in June. PHOTO COURTESY RIVALS.COM

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