Recruiting: Rivals Rankings Show Impact Offensive Talent Is On The Way
The 2020 recruiting class is set to sign in less than three weeks, and although it’s a small offensive haul, it’s a dynamic one. Notre Dame is set to sign nine offensive recruits during the early signing period, and the group will provide an influx of playmaking ability.
Notre Dame’s current depth chart at the skill positions does not have a single former Rivals Top 50 recruit, and senior guard Tommy Kraemer and junior tight end Brock Wright are the only current players to rank in the Rivals Top 50 when they were prospects.
In its latest rankings release, Rivals placed four Notre Dame offensive commits in the Top 100. In fact, all four of those Irish commits ranked in the Top 50. The class projects to provide the Irish offense with an immediate boost in impact skill. Let’s take a look at the four offensive commits that are in the latest Rivals100.
#25 Jordan Johnson, Wide Receiver, St. Louis (Mo.) DeSmet — The 6-2, 180-pound wideout is a Rivals five-star recruit, and he’s also a five-star on the 247Sports composite ranking, where he checks in as the No. 28 player in the entire country. Johnson has 29 catches for 587 yards (20.2 YPC) and nine touchdowns for a DeSmet team that has won 12 of its 14 games by at least 28 points.
Johnson projects as a boundary receiver in the Irish offense, but he has the skillset to play all three wide receiver spots in the Irish offense. He possesses the speed to stretch the field, and his ability to out-play defenders fro the ball is impressive. Johnson has developed into a strong route runner at the prep level and has the tools to become a dynamic route runner at the next level.
Combine that with his length, speed and ball skills and Johnson has the one-on-one playmaking ability that Notre Dame desires at the boundary position. Johnson will need to get stronger, but his skillset and talent will make him incredibly hard to keep off the field next season.
#37 Michael Mayer, Tight End, Alexandria (Ky.) Covington Catholic — Johnson isn’t the only big-time Irish commit to be the top dog for a 14-0 squad. Mayer led Covington Catholic to the state title game last season as well, but his team was defeated by current freshman Jacob Lacey and his Bowling Green (Ky.) South Warren squad.
Mayer is a two-way standout that according to Blue & Gold Illustrated has hauled in 44 passes for 845 yards and 14 touchdowns this season. Mayer was a first-team All-State defensive end as a sophomore (2017) and a first-team All-State linebacker as a junior (2018). He’s a physical football player with an elite frame, and there is still plenty of room for Mayer to fill out that frame.
The 6-5, 240-pound tight end possesses a unique size/strength/athleticism combination, which makes him a matchup nightmare. He won the Offensive MVP honors at the Nike Football The Opening this summer, as his ability to stretch the field and win one-on-one battles made him incredibly difficult to defend.
From a pure prep talent comparison, Mayer has better size and athleticism as a prep senior than current Irish star Cole Kmet possessed when he was a senior.
#43 Chris Tyree, Running Back, Chester (Va.) Thomas Dale — An ankle injury kept Tyree out for half the season and hobbled him in late-season games that he did play in. While it certainly made for a disappointing senior season for Tyree, saving the wear and tear on his body could be a blessing in disguise.
The Irish have not signed a faster player than Tyree in the decade that Brian Kelly has been in charge. Running backs coach Lance Taylor hit an absolute home run in his first go-round as a recruiter at Notre Dame. Tyree has truly elite speed, having twice won the fastest man competition at The Opening Finals. He also had the fastest 55-meter dash time in the nation for his grade as both a sophomore and junior.
Tyree is more than just a burner, he has quick feet, shows top-notch vision and he’s willing to mix it up between the tackles. But it is his game-breaking speed that should provide the Irish offense and special teams with an immediate shot in the arm.
Thinking about an offense that can put both Tyree and current sophomore speedster Braden Lenzy on the field at the same time has to excite Notre Dame fans … and offensive coordinator Chip Long.
#48 Tosh Baker, Offensive Tackle, Phoenix (Ariz.) Pinnacle — The 6-8, 275-pound offensive tackle is the one non-skill player in this list. Baker is a special talent, possessing a rare blend of size and agility. Baker, the starting center on Pinnacle’s nationally ranked basketball team, has truly elite length, and he has room to add quite a bit of muscle and size to his already massive frame.
What makes Baker unique is that he has such light feet and athleticism for such a massive prospect. It’s hard not to see the comparisons between Baker and former Irish All-American Ronnie Stanley when he was a senior in high school. Stanley was thicker than Baker, but the Pinnacle star is a bit more athletic and longer than Stanley was at the same age.
Baker has the potential to be every bit as good as Stanley as a run blocker, and his pass pro upside is enormous. Baker is able to quickly get out of his stance, his lateral quickness is top-notch, he can change direction with relative ease and his length/punch combination allows him to win late even if he initially gets beat off the ball.
Expect Baker to become a pet project for strength coach Matt Balis. Players with this young man’s combination of traits are quite rare.