Blue and Gold Illustrated

Nov. 6, 2021

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

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Page 50 of 63 NOV. 6, 2021 51 PREP PROFILES Notre Dame offered Scottsdale (Ariz.) Chaparral's Anthony Lucas, the na- tion's No. 7 strong-side defensive end and No. 80 overall player per Rivals, in July 2020, and defensive line coach Mike Elston and Co. have worked hard to get the talented prospect in their 2022 class. The Fighting Irish staff hosted the 6-5, 275-pounder for an official visit for the summer, and they made sure that he returned to campus for a game- day experience. That trip took place Oct. 23 when Notre Dame defeated USC 31-16. "It was a great trip; I loved it," Lucas told Blue & Gold Illustrated. "The envi- ronment was great. It was a little cold, but that's because I was sitting in the stands and not on the field playing. "I did everything I needed to do dur- ing my last visit over the summer, but I finally experienced what a game day was like, and I met with the athletic di- rector and talked to the coaches." Lucas' meeting with Notre Dame's Jack Swarbrick was a highlight of his visit. Swarbrick wasn't necessarily "recruiting" Lucas; he was laying out facts. "It wasn't so much a pitch as it was just telling me what Notre Dame has to offer as a school, the history behind it and what he's experienced since he's been there," Lucas noted. The four-star prospect spent time with Elston, Notre Dame defensive co o rd i n a to r M a rc u s Fre e m a n a n d defensive director of recruiting Chad Bowden. "It was good as usual. It's always fun time with them," Lucas said. "I always get along well with them. They're great people. They really stressed to me the future I'd have at Notre Dame if I decide to go there. "They explained how much they need me off the edge. I talked to Coach [Brian] Kelly about him wanting me to play some tight end, too." Lucas had a sit-down chat with Kelly as well. "He's a great man," Lucas said. "He expressed that it's a 40-year decision, not a four-year decision." Next up for Lucas is a trip to Alabama Nov. 6. He doesn't have a decision date set, but it is not expected until later this year. He may sign a letter of intent in December and announce his choice at the Under Armour All-America Game in January. — Mike Singer Notre Dame's visitor list for its 31-16 victory over archrival USC Oct. 23 was star-studded, but there wasn't a big- ger prospect on campus than five-star safety Xavier Nwankpa. The Pleasant Hill (Iowa) Southeast Polk standout is no stranger to South Bend, having visited for the Navy game in 2019 and having made an official visit this past summer. His latest experience went very well, too. "The visit was great," Nwankpa said. "I enjoyed talking to the players, coaches and some of the commits I met for the first time this weekend. I felt the welcoming vibe." Nwankpa raved about the energy in- side Notre Dame Stadium. "The atmosphere was pretty ecstatic even with Kyle [Hamilton] going down," Nwankpa said. "It sucked seeing him go down, but they stepped in and got the job done and even seemed more aggressive. "The safeties made some plays and got the job done, and that's all you can ask for." He is not expected to make another trip to South Bend before announcing his college decision, which is scheduled for Dec. 8. The Irish staff was clear in their pitch to him. "I have an opportunity here that I wouldn't anywhere else — top-tier academics with top-tier football," Nwankpa said when asked what the coaches had to say to him. "I'd also have the chance to compete early for a spot since the safety room isn't insanely deep." Their pitch went over well. Nwankpa said that he's higher on Notre Dame than ever. "Yes, for sure — seeing and hear- ing how they'd use me and how they planned on using Kyle this game," Nwankpa explained. "This visit is definitely going to make this decision tremendously harder with everything they have to offer and the vibe I got this weekend." Nwankpa's recruitment is down to three schools: Iowa, Notre Dame and Ohio State. He visited those programs over the summer and has seen Iowa and Notre Dame for game-day experiences this fall. He noted that he would visit Ohio State next for the Oct. 30 week- end. "I'm going to focus on winning a state championship while feeling out the pros and cons for me for every school," Nwankpa said. Rivals ranks Nwankpa as the nation's No. 1 safety and No. 14 overall prospect in the 2022 class. — Mike Singer Defensive Line Target Returned To Campus For USC Game Five-Star Iowa Safety Recaps Notre Dame Visit ANTHONY LUCAS ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ Chaparral H.S. Scottsdale, Ariz. Status: Offered Class: 2022 Position: Defensive end Ht.: 6-5 • Wt.: 275 Rivals Rankings: No. 1 player in Arizona, and No. 7 strong-side defensive end and No. 80 overall player nationally XAVIER NWANKPA ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ Southeast Polk H.S. Pleasant Hill, Iowa Status: Offered Class: 2022 Position: Safety Ht.: 6-2 • Wt.: 185 Rivals Rankings: No. 1 player in Iowa, and No. 1 safety and No. 14 overall player nationally

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