Notre Dame Recruiting: News and Notes

Brian Smith

The recruiting cycle might be messed up with what’s going on in America and abroad, but that has not stopped college programs, Notre Dame included, from getting after it on the recruiting trail.

Irish Continue to Pursue Pennsylvania Prospect

When asked to provide a self evaluation of his game, Canonsburg (Pa.) Peters Township safety/rover Donovan McMillon provided one of the best overall answers one could hope.

“Preparation is key,” McMillon began. “I believe that’s a huge strength of my game. I love to watch film. As my dad would always say continue to ‘perfect your craft’.”

McMillon continued, “By studying film daily, I get a bead on my opponents' tendencies.”

The Pennsylvania standout also addressed the physical aspect of training.

“I also work hard on tackling and coverage skills. I want to be an all around, every down defensive back. To quote my club wrestling coach Jim Akerly, ‘work to get 1% better everyday’.”

“There’s always skills that I can improve on,” McMillon said humbly. “One (skill) in particular is my low hole coverage skills. Being able to consistently play underneath No. 1, patiently holding the curl longer, and then working to the flat responsibility.”

As for all his preparation and training, McMillon shared his new weight now that his junior wrestling season is over.

“I’m up to 193 (pounds).”

McMillon is still hearing from fifteen schools, give or take. Penn State, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, and many others still involved as well. Long way to go for McMillon’s services.

Wheatley Continues to Work As Top Programs Continue to Recruit Him

Among the many recruits that Notre Dame cornerbacks coach Mike Mickens offered of late would be Zakee Wheatley, CB, 6-2, 185, Severn (Md.) Archbishop Spalding. The lean and athletic prospect continues to grind during the COVID-19 outbreak, as his photo below demonstrates.

Besides the outside work, Wheatley is working to get stronger.

“In the house, I don't own a weight bench so I've been using my bar and 45's to do lunges and squats, and of course push-ups and sit-ups,” Wheatley explained. All that time spent preparing earned him several offers, Notre Dame included.

Wheatley seems to be a top priority for Notre Dame, and he provided a run down of the schools reaching out to him the most.

“Okay and the ones that reach out the most are ... Penn state, Virginia, Maryland, Wisconsin, Notre Dame, Rutgers, Louisville, Northwestern and Vandy.”

Wheatley continued, “Also hearing from Florida State and UNC. Oregon started reaching out but has not offered.”

The Irish will likely face a familiar foe in an effort to sign Wheatley. When asked which specific coach recruited him from Penn State, Wheatley provided an interesting answer.

“From PSU, The entire staff. Apparently I'm really high on their board. I talk to Coach [James] Franklin and FaceTime him regularly.”

Notre Dame just entered the race for Wheatley as it relates to an offer, and the Irish prefer that he plays defense. Wheatley is a prospect Notre Dame would definitely like to sign.

Notre Dame Head Coach Brian Kelly More Involved With Recruiting

Recruits such as Wheatley, as well as many others, confirmed that Irish head coach Brian Kelly started communicating with them.

This is important because Notre Dame will face elite competition for top recruits during the coming months. These same recruits tend to favor institutions that show the most attention, get to know the person and not just the player. The more Coach Kelly stays directly involved with phone calls, Skype and the like, the more likely the Irish will enjoy a big national signing day this December.

A few of the recruits that passed on to me that Coach Kelly communicated with them recently would be defensive end Jason Onye, cornerback Philip Riley, and cornerback Ryan Barnes.

In a recent update on five-star running back Will Shipley, Irish Breakdown’s Jack Sullivan noted Shipley too was hearing often from Kelly. You can read that update HERE. Barnes offered the following comment after communicating with Kelly on Thursday.

“We did FaceTime and he said that I could play any position in the secondary,” Barnes relayed.

Another prospect, McMillon, also mentioned Kelly has been actively recruiting him.

“On (Twitter) direct message,” he said of communicating with Kelly. “FaceTiming him soon.”

The world of recruiting changed with social media and instant access to almost anything. Kelly appears to be right in the middle of it during the COVID-19 outbreak. It will serve Notre Dame well, long term, if that trend continues. Recruits love it when the head coach is directly involved.

Join the Irish Breakdown community!

Subscribe to the Irish Breakdown podcast on iTunes.

Follow me on twitter: @CoachD178

Like and follow Irish Breakdown on Facebook

Comments (4)
No. 1-3

Texting daily and being on face time with these players is great but Notre Dame really needs to get these elite kids on campus in person to truly get what Notre Dame is all about. I am starting to think this shutdown is hurting Notre Dame more than other premier programs.


Are the chances of will Shipley committing about the same as Styles flipping time somewhere else. Lots of articles these last few days about the later.

1 Reply

Bryan Driskell
Bryan Driskell


I would say no. I think the odds of Shipley committing are much greater than Styles decommitting.