Recruiting Roundup: Pryor, Shipley, Spinder, USC Weekend

Brian Smith

On Isaiah Pryor

We were able to speak with multiple sources on where things stand with Ohio State transfer safety Isaiah Pryor, who was the No. 77 player in the country.

Pryor made a visit to Notre Dame this weekend with his father, and from all accounts things went incredibly well. Notre Dame pitched Pryor on what it is doing with its defense this season, which is playing three safeties each game.

It also explained to him that by playing a national schedule the way the Irish do, there is always a need for depth at that very important position. The point being, even if Pryor comes in and doesn’t start, there is a very clear path to a lot of playing time, which freshman Kyle Hamilton is showing this season despite having two very talented players in front of him.

It was made clear to Pryor that he'll have to battle with Hamilton and sophomore Houston Griffith, but no matter who finishes one, two or three, the Irish plan to using a rotation at the position moving forward just like they are in 2019.

Our sources indicated that Pryor plans to come back to Notre Dame, perhaps as early as its Nov. 2 contest against Virginia Tech, but this time he plans to return with his mother.

Pryor has talked about making other visits, but right now the feeling is the transfer picking Notre Dame is more about when, not if.

On Will Shipley

Notre Dame hosted Matthews (N.C.) Weddington running back Will Shipley this weekend, who 247Sports has as a composite five-star running back and the No. 21 player in the country.

Shipley doesn’t appear to be in any rush to make a decision, but according to our sources, Notre Dame made a huge impact on him during his first visit to South Bend.

The star running back watched Notre Dame rack up 308 yards on the ground, and the Irish commits on campus were all over him. According to the people we spoke with, the message to Shipley from the coaches and the recruits was well received and Notre Dame is now going to be a major player for him.

On Rocco Spindler

Notre Dame also hosted one of the nation’s top two-way players, Clarkston (Mich.) High School star Rocco Spindler. Rivals ranks him as an offensive lineman and the No. 82 player in the country. 247Sports ranks him as a defensive tackle and the No. 31 player in the country.

The Irish are recruiting Spindler as an offensive lineman, and they put the full-court press on him this weekend. Considered a Michigan lean by most in the industry, Spindler came out of that trip with Notre Dame at or near the top of his list.

According to the source we spoke with, the Notre Dame commits connected with Spindler and their message to him sank in. He also watched as the Notre Dame offensive line dominated the Trojans.

Expect the Irish to be a legit player for him moving forward.

On Field Success Leads to Recruiting Success

Notre Dame knocked off rival Southern California in what turned out to be a really good finish to an Irish victory. The Irish also reeled in two very talented juniors while hosting an incredible group of players from across the land.

Raucous Crowd

From everything reported and watched, the Irish crowd really got into the rivalry game with USC. That’s what college football is and should be all about. Hats off to the Irish crowd for making noise and contributing to the game. As the recruits will testify (see below), it makes a difference.

What They’re Saying

Here are a few perspectives from recruits that visited South Bend this weekend, plus another opinion from a recruit that watched the game.

“The atmosphere was incredible, the campus was beautiful,” said Milton (Ga.) High School tight end Jack Nickel, who has seen some impressive environments already. “I can’t really say who’s the best but Georgia, Penn State, Alabama and Notre Dame are all up there.”

Class of 2021 defensive tackle commit Gabriel Rubio from St. Peter’s (Mo.) Lutheran of St. Charles thought it was an impactful weekend from a recruiting standpoint.

“I thought that all of the recruits and the commits at the game were very excited to see how the game would turn out,” Rubio stated. “By the time the game started everyone’s attention was zeroed in on what Notre Dame would do to beat USC. Overall I feel like it was a great time for everyone!”

Reading (Pa.) Mifflin running back Nicholas Singleton, a 2022 target, made his first trip to Notre Dame this weekend for the matchup.

“Great time, everyone and everything was great!” Said Singleton, who was excited about the trip. “Fans base is incredible! Crowd was really into the game, throwing each other in the air! Coach (Lance) Taylor was really nice and got a really good vibe from him about the recruiting process.”

Ocala (Fla.) Trinity Catholic offensive tackle Caleb Johnson, a 2021 recruit, also made the trip to South Bend.

“Really well, the Notre Dame vs. USC game was something to see,” Johnson said of the visit, “Their offensive line did amazing with the run blocks.”

Because Johnson lives 30 minutes from the University of Florida, I asked the talented offensive tackle to to compare the Notre Dame atmosphere to a game at The Swamp, which is the home of the Gators.

“Well it may have been a different experience for me because we were in between the students and the band so there was a lot more energy than any Florida game I’ve gone to.”

Lilburn (Ga.) Parkview athlete Terian Williams was expected to visit for the game but an illness forced him to stay home. The talented two-way standout from the 2022 class still watched the game, and came away impressed.

“I watched the game on TV,” Williams said. “I see my boy Colzie committed. Notre Dame is building the Georgia pipeline!”

Notre Dame Adding Speed and Size

One of Notre Dame’s traditional nemesis would be elite speed at wide receiver. Those days appear to be long forgotten, especially with Braden Lenzy’s reverse for a touchdown against the Trojans.

Keeping with the theme, adding Pickerington (Ohio) Central athlete Lorenzo Styles to the outside and a big-bodied wide receiver like Athens (Ga.) Academy wideout Deion Colzie on the other side of the formation will make it doubly difficult to defend the Irish in the future.

Both class of 2021 recruits made public announcements for Notre Dame this weekend. Think about some of the playmakers the Irish are adding for 2020 and 2021.

One of the best receiving tight ends in the country in Alexandria (Ky.) Covington Catholic star Michael Mayor, with similar skills to a Cole Kmet. Not to mention Red Bank (N.J.) Catholic standout Kevin Bauman, another exceptional tight end. Both players can make defenses pay down the field.

Moving to wide receiver, St. Louis (Mo.) DeSmet five-star Jordan Johnson provides size and athleticism to create mismatches, and Omaha (Neb.) Burke athlete Xavier Watts and Shrewsbury (Mass.) St. Johns wideout Jay Brunelle are both undervalued recruits that could make early impacts.

The wide receiver depth chart is going to be very exciting. Combining those players with the electric Chester (Va.) Thomas Dale running back Chris Tyree is going to stress opposing defensive coordinators.

Colzie and Styles are the types of players that present match up problems and complement one another. Notre Dame will be able to dictate to the opposition because of the perimeter talent it will soon possess. Jump balls, back-shoulder fades and any route that requires sheer speed will be accessible to the Irish starting quarterback. It’s going to be a fast and athletic group in South Bend for years to come.

2021 Class Off To An Elite Start

I’ve followed Notre Dame recruiting since 1990. I do not remember a more dynamic start to a recruiting class than the one being assembled right now. It’s incredible.

The amount of elite talent is fantastic, and by all accounts, Notre Dame found great fits for the program. It’s a product of hard work by everyone in the Notre Dame Football office, and it should be acknowledged accordingly. What a start!

More Feedback to Come

As recruits get home from South Bend, the next several days will include updates from players across the country. Anything could happen. More commitments, more visits set up to Notre Dame, plus the general information regarding which recruits really enjoyed the visit.

On the Road

With Notre Dame off this week, the Irish coaching staff will be on the road evaluating prospects and doing their due diligence regarding academics and social fit. It’s an incredibly important time as the staff attempts to finish out the class of 2020 and continue to build upon efforts for the classes of 2021 and 2022. Speaking of going on the road.

I will be making a trip to Georgia at the end of October. The Atlanta area is my target, and there is a plethora of great players within one area. I am finalizing details this week for my trip, but here are a few of the names I am going to see, barring last minute changes.

2021 Irish commitments Deion Colzie and Cane Berrong from Hartwell (Ga.) Hart County, as well as elite linebacker recruit Barrett Carter (2021) from Suwanee (Ga.) North Gwinnett. Williams, 2021 cornerback Ronnie Hamrick II and 2021 RB Cody Brown are all from Lilburn (Ga.) Parkview.

2021 WR Daejon Reynolds from Lawrenceville (Ga.) Central Gwinnett, and a plethora of other elite players that are also at these schools. Gwinnett Country produces as many Division I players as some other states; think about that.

I will add more information as more arises. I am truly looking forward to it. As much as Notre Dame continues to go after targets in the Peach State, I may be making multiple trips to Georgia each year. 

Comments (28)
No. 1-9

What's going on with Jamareeh Jones? Any plans for Malcolm Greene to make a visit?


Pryor could certainly ease the impact of Derrik Allen’s transfer, combined with Griffith’s move to what would appear to be his more natural position, the foreseeable future at Safety looks much brighter. Had Houston Griffith played more than 4 games this year? If I’m not mistaken he didn’t redshirt last year. CoachD or Brian any idea what the plans are there?

Bob Rodes
Bob Rodes

Bryan, it seems like most of the elite players we're getting are on offense. What's your take on how defensive recruiting is going, particularly at cornerback? Also, if it's turning out that Todd Lyght just isn't a very good recruiter, what do you think is the best way to handle that? I don't think there's any doubt that he's an asset as a developer of players and a cultural example, but if he's weak on recruiting, do we find someone to help him or find another coach?


What do we think about the 2020 class? Are they done or are they going to take 1 more DB?


Great piece thank you.

I know it’s early, but any concern over defensive recruiting in 2021 given the lack of numbers in 2020? Who are the top names on D we should be aware of?


Thanks for the update. Notre Dame is rolling right now recruiting and it's a beautiful thing to see. So many dynamic play makers on offense.

Will Shipley is a must get for me. Having him and Tyree together as a 1-2 punch would just be ridiculous. I also like Xavier Watts a ton. There is no way that kid is a 3 star player. The same with Styles who isn't rated as high as he should be. I think he is a 5 star player.


Completely agree that 2021 class is off to a fantastic start. Incredible really.

From everything I have read ND hit a grand slam this past weekend. Colzie and Styles are big time gets and from everything I've read, Shipley and Rocco had great visits.


Man, we may not end with the number 1 recruiting class but I am AMPED to see these guys get on the field. The future of ND is in great shape!! Need DB’s though!


This is awesome! Thanks for the roundup.

“I’ve followed Notre Dame recruiting since 1990. I do not remember a more dynamic start to a recruiting class than the one being assembled right now. It’s incredible.“

It does seem to be an incredible start to the class, but do you think it will continue?

I’ve seen ND get out to a hot start in recruiting only to fall back to the pack by the end.

I’m not sure what the number of players will be for this class, but can we expect a top-5 class? Can we expect top talent at defensive back?