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Notre Dame Has A Potential Program Changing Recruiting Weekend On Deck

Notre Dame has a number of gap closers on campus this weekend, and recruiting success this weekend could be monumental for the Irish program

Notre Dame is currently in the midst of its best recruiting cycle in some time, and if the coaches can close well the 2022 class will end up being the best of the Brian Kelly era. Not only that, it could be the kind of gap closing class that Notre Dame needs to get over the hump and compete for - and win - a championship.

This weekend the Irish are hosting a huge recruiting event that is filled with visits from the 2022 and 2023 class. A successful weekend could be a program changer for Notre Dame. 

Landing the 2022 visitors would be absolutely monumental for Notre Dame.

XAVIER NWANKPA, SAFETY

Nwankpa is down to Notre Dame, Iowa and Ohio State. The Buckeyes were long considered his leader but the Hawkeyes have been making a hard charge. I still like where Notre Dame stands, but the staff will need a big weekend with him to put itself in position to finish the job and get him in the class.

Notre Dame secondary commits Devin Moore, Benjamin Morrison and Jaden Mickey are all expected on campus this weekend, and the opportunity to connect with Nwankpa will be huge. None of them were on campus this summer when Nwankpa made his official visit. Getting a face-to-face meeting with him could be a huge boost for the staff.

Nwankpa is an extremely talented five-star safety that ranks as the nation's No. 10 overall player according to 247Sports and No. 14 according to Rivals. He would be the highest ranked safety to sign with Notre Dame, but more importantly he has the combination of length, intelligence, athleticism and playmaking ability to make an immediate splash on the Irish defense.

Adding Nwankpa to the class that already has the three previously mentioned corners and Jayden Bellamy would make this the best secondary class of the last decade.

ANTHONY LUCAS, DEFENSIVE LINE

Lucas is my highest ranked recruit on the board and he'd be my highest ranked defensive lineman to pick Notre Dame since Aaron Lynch and Stephon Tuitt, should the Irish pull off the upset and land him. There is a lot of work to do for the Irish, and programs like Texas A&M, Oregon, Miami and others are also in great position.

Lucas and his family enjoyed the summer visit to South Bend, and they are very much intrigued by the academic opportunities that would await him at Notre Dame. The key for the Irish staff is then convincing him that Notre Dame is also the best place for him to continue his football career.

247Sports ranks Lucas as a five-star recruit and the No. 14 player in the entire country. He's capable of dominating as a three-technique inside or as an edge player. Wherever he plays, the reality is Lucas is an elite player that would combine with Tyson Ford and Aiden Gobaira to give Notre Dame a truly elite, game-changing, gap closing group of defensive linemen that would play in front of the nation's best linebacker corps.

Landing Lucas will be incredibly difficult, but he's the kind of recruit that if you can land him it changes the future of your program.

BILLY SCHRAUTH, GUARD

The recruitment for Schrauth has been quite the roller coaster, with the Wisconsin native going from being a silent commit to Notre dame not really being in the picture. Now things are looking much, much better for the Irish with this recruitment. 

Schrauth is trying to get back on campus this weekend for the matchup against USC. Notre Dame absolutely needs to hit this visit out of the park and convince Schrauth to finally pull the trigger and join the class, officially.

The 6-5, 285-pound guard is a legitimate Top 100 caliber prospect in my view. He's an interior player that is long, powerful and a quality athlete. He also has a tremendous motor and finishes at a high level. I also think Schrauth is long and athletic enough, and good enough in space to play tackle if the need was there.

Right now the Notre Dame offensive line class is solid, but landing Schrauth would make it a strength of this class.

HERO KANU, DEFENSIVE TACKLE

Kanu is an intriguing player that has only played two seasons of American football up to this point. He's a big (6-4, 290), quality athlete with an incredibly high ceiling but he's still learning the game of football.

Kanu recently visited Oklahoma and still has visits left with Ohio State (Oct. 30), Georgia (Nov. 6) and LSU (Nov. 13). Notre Dame has been in a good position with him for awhile but other schools are also in good position.

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Simply put, Notre Dame needs a great weekend with Kanu if they are going to have a chance to land him.

WALKER HOWARD, QUARTERBACK

Right now I don't give Notre Dame much of a shot here. In fact, I'd argue that Notre Dame had a greater shot at flipping him from LSU had Ed Orgeron remained. Considering his dad played at LSU, a new coach is going to bring in new energy that will ultimately swing him back into the class.

In the meantime, however, the Irish coaching staff led by Tommy Rees has a chance to make some serious noise with Howard. Rees will get his shot to build a strong enough bond with Howard to convince him that no matter what happens with the next head coach at LSU, this is the place for him to be.

This weekend will be the first big shot at making that happen. The fact Howard will be surrounded by so many Notre Dame commits - including wideouts Tobias Merriweather and CJ Williams, and tight ends Eli Raridon and Holden Staes, and 2023 RB commit Sedrick Irvin Jr. - can only help Notre Dame's chances at building a strong connection with Howard.

Do I ultimately think Howard will end up at Notre Dame? No, I don't, but the reality is Rees deserves a great deal of credit for being willing to take this shot. He's going into Louisiana to recruit a LSU commit whose dad played the same position he does at LSU. Instead of assuming he had no shot with Howard, like I am, Rees is taking his shot.

That's a great sign.

Notre Dame needs to land Schrauth and at least two of the 2022 defensive recruits on campus to truly make this a game changing class. Ideally that would be Nwankpa and one of the defensive linemen (with Lucas being preferred), but three of any of those four would be a coup, and would give Notre Dame the kind of elite class it needs to close the gap on the teams competing for - and winning - national championships.

Of course keeping the commits happy and focused is another important aspect of the weekend.

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