Blue and Gold Illustrated

Oct. 17, 2016

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

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44 OCT. 17, 2016 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED FOOTBALL RECRUITING BY COREY BODDEN AND DAVID MCKINNEY T h e S t a n f o rd g a m e w e e k e n d Oct. 14‑16 will have major impli‑ cations for Notre Dame's recruiting efforts, much like the Michigan State weekend. Visitors from each coast and in between will be in attendance, with uncommitted prospects and Irish pledges making their way to South Bend. The headliner is the top offensive tackle in the country in Graham (Wash.) Kapowsin product Foster Sarell, who is a consensus five‑star. Rivals (No. 3), 247Sports (No. 1) and Scout (No. 2) each have Sarell as one of the top three players in the coun‑ try overall, while ESPN ranks him at No. 12. Sarell's recruitment appears to be down to three choices: Notre Dame, Stanford and Washington. He has al‑ ready been on unofficial visits to both Stanford and Washington, and also went on an official visit to Nebraska Sept. 3. Sarell still has an official visit scheduled to Alabama Oct. 22, when the Tide takes on Texas A&M. In ad‑ dition, he plans to take official visits to Washington (during the season) and Stanford (following the season). The Stanford visit may not occur if he is committed elsewhere. According to Sarell's mother, Pam, a decision is likely to come "within the month, month and a half." Mrs. Sarell has told Blue & Gold Illustrated previously the main reason for the trip is for her son to experience game day for himself because he has not been to a contest in South Bend in the past. "He knows the rivalry between the two teams," Pam Sarell said. "He really wants to feel that historical game‑day vibe and watch it live … Foster does his homework and feels like he knows what their deal is, and he loves it." Offensive line coach Harry Hies‑ tand is one reason for Sarell's ma‑ jor interest in Notre Dame. He has previously mentioned Notre Dame's tradition, academics and success in producing NFL offensive linemen as other factors. "He's an awesome coach and knows what he talks about," Sarell said of Hiestand. "It seems he coaches you hard and loves you hard, which is great." This will be the final chance for the Irish to convince Sarell that South Bend is the place to continue his stu‑ dent‑athlete career. Two other top West Coast pros‑ pects are scheduled to take official visits for the Stanford showdown, including one committed to a Pac‑12 program. Here is a rundown of the other confirmed visitors. 2017 VISITORS ROBERT HAINSEY — OFFICIAL VISIT OFFENSIVE TACKLE BRADENTON (FLA.) IMG ACADEMY Rivals Rankings: Four-star talent, and the No. 11 offensive tackle and No. 72 overall player in the country. The Skinny: Hainsey is the top-rated offensive lineman currently committed to Notre Dame. He verbally committed to the Irish during the sum- mer over Michigan and Michigan State. He has remained firm in his pledge and likely will be asked to do some recruiting while in South Bend, with the top target being Sarell. The Rivals four-star is a big piece to the Irish recruiting class in 2017 and is one of three Ri- vals100 members in the group of commitments entering October, joining tight ends Brock Wright (No. 52 player nationally) of Cypress (Texas) Cy- Fair and Cole Kmet (No. 89) of Arlington Heights (Ill.) St. Viator. GREG JOHNSON — OFFICIAL VISIT CORNERBACK LOS ANGELES AUGUSTUS HAWKINS Rivals Rankings: Four-star prospect, and the No. 11 cornerback and No. 108 overall player in the country. The Skinny: Johnson may be the second most interesting prospect in South Bend for the Stanford weekend, behind Sarell, mostly due to his current pledge to Arizona. He committed to Rich Rodriguez and the Wild- cats in late March. He, like Sarell, will follow his Notre Dame visit with a trip to Tuscaloosa Oct. 22. The only other trip he has lined up is an official visit to Arizona in November. Johnson is expected to take all five official visits, but the other two destinations are not set yet. It is a little unclear exactly where the Irish stand in Johnson's recruitment, but an official visit is never a bad sign. ELIJAH HICKS — OFFICIAL VISIT ATHLETE • LA MIRADA (CALIF.) HIGH Rivals Rankings: Four-star talent and the No. 27 athlete in the country. The Skinny: Hicks, who is being recruited at cor- Top Offensive Tackle Target Headlines Stanford Visit List Graham (Wash.) Kapowsin's Foster Sarell — a consensus five-star recruit, and the No. 1 offensive tackle and No. 3 overall player nationally according to Rivals — will be in South Bend for the Stanford game, his first Irish game experience, with a decision looming. PHOTO BY ANDREW IVINS

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