Blue and Gold Illustrated

Nov. 18, 2023

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

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BLUEGOLDONLINE.COM NOV. 18, 2023 43 PREP PROFILES Winter Garden (Fla.) West Orange class of 2025 defensive back Ivan Taylor was a headline visitor of Notre Dame's recruiting weekend Oct. 28. The four- star prospect made his third overall trip to South Bend, and it was his first time seeing the Fighting Irish in action at Notre Dame Stadium. "The game-day visit was crazy," Taylor said. "We did the walk with the players. The environment felt amaz- ing. The fans were awesome. The whole place was packed. The coaching staff is great to talk to. They're great people overall, and I can't wait to get back up here." Notre Dame's de- fensive backs had 4 interceptions in the game, including one returned for a touchdown by sophomore Jaden Mickey. It must have impressed Tay- lor how well Christian Gray performed during the contest, with the true fresh- man recording a highlight interception himself. "For sure. You could tell they put their defensive backs in the right place," Taylor said. "What they were doing was working all day. I definitely think Notre Dame is secretly building another 'DB U.'" Taylor is considered a Notre Dame lean by most pundits, and at this point, Taylor would agree with that assessment. "They're definitely No. 1 right now," he stated. "They're up there — defi- nitely No. 1." Taylor doesn't have any set plans as to what his recruitment will look like moving for- ward, but he has an idea. "I'm going to pray about it," he said. "I think I'll have a decision after the sea- son. I'll get to some more colleges, but it's winding down to a top three or four already for me. I'm not going to waste time with this process. "Really, I want to come back to Notre Dame. That's where I'm liking it right now." Florida State and Tennessee are the only other schools Taylor has been to multiple times during his recruit- ing process. South Bend is the lone destination of the fall thus far, and he's been to campus three times since June. "Some coaches can like you, but I feel like Notre Dame loves me," he concluded. Taylor, who is the son of former NFL defensive back Ike Taylor, holds schol- arship offers from Alabama, Penn State, Michigan, Ole Miss and a handful of others. — Mike Singer Buford (Ga.) High class of 2025 cor- nerback Devin Williams has been busy visiting schools for game day visits this fall. Most of his trips have been in the South, but he did make it up to South Bend Sept. 23 for Notre Dame's close setback against Ohio State. Tennessee, Florida State, Auburn and Alabama are four schools he also trav- eled to this fall. And the Notre Dame game-day experience stacked up with those programs. "It definitely did," Williams said. "Going into the game, I didn't expect the crowd to be that crazy. That was the most wild crowd I've been in so far. Notre Dame's ability to play Ohio State the way they did was eye-opening. It shows their improvement throughout the years. It was an insane game." Williams is one of Notre Dame's top overall targets in the 2025 class, so it rolled out the red carpet for its prized target. "I love seeing Coach [Mike] Mickens and Coach [Marcus] Freeman," Wil- liams said. "They showed me a lot of love and hospitality. They made me feel at home. It was great connecting with them again. "There were genuine conversations with me and especially Coach Mickens. He feels that I'm one of the best corners they want to get in the [2025] class." When asked if there were any recruits at the game who Williams connected with, he mentioned an Irish commit in particular, which should not come as a surprise to Notre Dame fans. "Deuce Knight does a lot of recruit- ing," Williams said. "He tries to get me to commit there and be part of the class. We talked and hung out for a bit." And in the few weeks since the visit, Williams has heard from Knight con- sistently. "He's trying to build a connection with me," Williams added. "He drops a message from time to time, telling me to commit and how he has the [social media] graphic ready." Which school Williams ends up at re- mains to be seen. If it's not Notre Dame, it won't be due to a lack of effort. "It's almost every single day," Williams said about the contact from the Irish staff. "They're probably recruiting me the hard- est. They check in on me all the time to see how I'm doing. I'm definitely feeling the love from the Notre Dame coaches." — Mike Singer Fighting Irish Make Big Move For Key 2025 Target Four-Star Corner Details Notre Dame Interest And Visit IVAN TAYLOR ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ West Orange H.S. Winter Garden, Fla. Status: Offered Class: 2025 Position: Safety Ht.: 5-11 • Wt.: 163 On3 Rankings: No. 25 player in Florida, and No. 15 safety and No. 172 over- all player nationally DEVIN WILLIAMS ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ Buford H.S. Buford, Ga. Status: Offered Class: 2025 Position: Cornerback Ht.: 5-11 • Wt.: 168 On3 Rankings: No. 23 player in Georgia, and No. 21 cornerback and No. 174 overall player nationally "Some coaches can like you, but I feel like Notre Dame loves me." TAYLOR

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