Blue and Gold Illustrated

Sept. 25, 2017

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

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Page 44 of 55 SEPT. 25, 2017 45 PREP PROFILES Notre Dame had a chance to make a big impression on 2019 running back Cesare Mellusi of Naples (Fla.) High during the Georgia game, and it ap- pears the Irish did just that. Mellusi, who was high on Notre Dame coming into the trip, left the visit with the Irish on the top of his list. "It was really awesome," he said. "It was a really great experience meet- ing the guys and seeing the campus." A big part of the reason Mellusi likes Notre Dame so much is running backs coach Autry Denson, who has done a good job of building a rela- tionship with the four-star Floridian early on. "I'm really, really high on them," said Mellusi, the No. 174 overall player in the class of 2019 according to Rivals. "When I talk to Coach Den- son, he's up front and real with you. I got to meet some of the guys, too, and they're pretty cool." Coming from Florida, as Denson did, Mellusi said it was easy for the two of them to bond. "I can relate to him very well," Mel- lusi said. "He's real. He tells you what he wants to do with you and how he wants to do it. I'm really with that." Of course, the big event of the week- end was the game against Georgia. Even though the Irish didn't come out on top, Mellusi said he was impressed with what he saw inside Notre Dame Stadium. "The game was awesome," he said. "Obviously Georgia played well, and I think Notre Dame played well, too, on the defensive side. I think the of- fense could do a little bit better. But the game was awesome. That was my first real college football game to see, and it was amazing." Following the trip, Mellusi headed back to Florida with the Irish as his leader. However, there's still a long way to go before the competition to sign him is over. Still, the Irish made a huge impres- sion on Mellusi over the weekend and are in good shape with one of the top running backs in the 2019 class going forward. "They take care of their kids really well," Mellusi said. "They were just showing me a whole bunch of sta- tistics on life after football and what their kids do. "Having a degree from Notre Dame gives you a better chance of getting good jobs and just having a better life." — David McKinney Notre Dame holds a commitment from one of the top defensive backs in Georgia's 2018 class with Marietta (Ga.) Lassiter Rivals100 product Der- rik Allen. The Irish hope to do the same in 2019 after extending an offer to Rivals250 cornerback Jalen Perry of Dacula (Ga.) High. "It meant a lot with Notre Dame being one of the big winning pro- grams," the 6-1, 175-pounder said of the offer. "They have great tradition, and a lot of great coaches and play- ers came through there. They have great academics and are a prestigious university." With the offer in hand, Perry has a strong interest in the Irish. "What comes to mind first is they are focused on academics," Perry ex- plained. "They make sure their play- ers are doing right in the classroom as well as on the field. They are going to push you to be the best you can be because winning is the standard. "At Notre Dame, they try to win as much as possible, and they've been winning for a long time. … I know it's a great tradition program and a place you know you're going to be successful." Defensive backs coach Todd Lyght extended the offer to the four-star ju- nior. "I like him a lot in the times I've been able to talk with him so far," Perry said. "He seems like a great coach and pushes his players to do well on the field and also in the class- room. He stresses that he wants his defensive backs to be all-around great people. "He just told me that they think I can be a playmaker and they like my ball skills. He likes my game and thinks it would be a great fit for me." Perry now wants to get to South Bend and check out the Notre Dame program for himself. He hopes to make it to a game this fall. "One would be the atmosphere," Perry said of what he'd focus on dur- ing a visit. "I want to see how South Bend is on a game day and how the people, players and coaches are. "I want to focus on mainly Coach Lyght and how he coaches the de- fensive backs and how they respond to his coaching and how they adjust during the game." — David McKinney Notre Dame Leads For Junior Running Back After Visit 2019 Georgia Cornerback Is High On The Irish CESARE MELLUSI ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ Naples H.S. Naples, Fla. Class: 2019 Position: Running Back Status: Offered Ht.: 6-0 • Wt.: 175 Rivals Rankings: No. 15 run- ning back and No. 174 overall player in the nation JALEN PERRY ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ Dacula H.S. Dacula, Ga. Class: 2019 Position: Cornerback Status: Offered Ht.: 6-1 • Wt.: 175 Rivals Rankings: No. 11 cornerback No. 137 overall player in the country "IT MEANT A LOT WITH NOTRE DAME BEING ONE OF THE BIG WINNING PROGRAMS. THEY HAVE GREAT TRADITION AND A LOT OF GREAT COACHES AND PLAYERS CAME THROUGH THERE. THEY HAVE GREAT ACADEMICS AND ARE A PRESTIGIOUS UNIVERSITY." PERRY

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