Notre Dame: A Strong Recruiting Finish Is Within Reach

Notre Dame has a chance to use its strong on-field production to finish off the 2021 class with top-level talent.
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Notre Dame has added three recruits in the last four days, which gives the Irish 22 commits in the 2021 class. The Irish have risen to No. 8 in the 247Sports rankings and 10th according to SI All-American and Rivals.

The Irish staff isn’t done, and there’s at least one more commitment out there to be had, and likely quite soon. There are also some big fish out there, and if Notre Dame can reel them in this could go down as head coach Brian Kelly’s best class since since 2013, at least from a rankings standpoint.

The numbers in this class can be bigger than previously expected considering the fact some possible fifth-year seniors next season won’t count towards the 85-scholarship limit. That has given the Irish staff a bit more leeway to add a couple of extra recruits.

Let’s take a look at what is left, and where things stand.

IRISH MAKING A HARD PUSH FOR ANOTHER OFFENSIVE TACKLE

We mentioned to you over a week ago that Notre Dame was trying to flip a couple of committed offensive linemen, and based on our latest intel the Irish are on the verge of landing one of those prospects. That player would be Ocala (Fla.) Trinity Catholic offensive tackle Caleb Johnson.

According to multiple sources, Notre Dame has put itself in strong position to flip the current Auburn commit. Of course, the Tigers won’t go down without a fight, but all the momentum is moving in the direction of the Fighting Irish.

Johnson is ranked as a four-star recruit by 247Sports and ESPN. The 6-7, 290-pound standout would give Notre Dame a much-needed extra tackle in the line class, which would stand at five players should Johnson jump on board. He’s not the elite level player Notre Dame is used to getting at tackle, but he’s a quality prospect with some upside.

Between Johnson and Joe Alt, the Irish would then have two tackle prospect to go along with Blake Fisher, and by landing both of those prospects the Irish would increase their odds at one of them panning out.

Update: Caleb Johnson committed to Notre Dame hours after this article was published. You can read what his commitment means for the Irish in an article HERE.

STAFF LOOKING FOR ONE MORE DEFENSIVE LINEMAN

Notre Dame is looking to add one more defensive lineman, and that player is Highland Springs (Va.) High School standout end Kelvin Gilliam Jr. We wrote about Gilliam and where things a week ago.

“According to Nathan Atkins, Gilliam has been in touch with defensive line coach Mike Elston and defensive coordinator Clark Lea,” Irish Breakdown wrote last week. “He also said that head coach Brian Kelly has reached out via text on multiple occasions. It's clear the staff is putting the full court press on Gilliam.

“Atkins also informed me that in speaking with Gilliam and his family it is obvious that academics are of extreme importance to them, which was the initial reason for his interest in Notre Dame. Of course, the recent success on the field and with the defense doesn't hurt, but academics were at the heart of the initial interest.”

Gilliam is ranked as the No. 102 overall player on the 247Sports composite list, and Rivals ranks him as the nation’s No. 79 player in the country. He is still committed to Oklahoma and continues saying plenty of positive things about the Sooners, but the Irish staff is pushing hard.

NOTRE DAME A LEGIT PLAYER FOR STANDOUT RUNNING BACK

We spoke with a source this afternoon that feels very good about Notre Dame’s chance at landing West Bloomfield (Mich.) High School running back Donovan Edwards. This came as a bit of a surprise to us, but the source felt good about it. We knew that Edwards liked Notre Dame, a school he has in his final six options, but the intel we got this afternoon went well beyond just “they have a chance.”

Running backs coach Lance Taylor and offensive coordinator Tommy Rees have put a lot of work into this recruitment, and while I’m still in a bit of “Yeah, we’ll see” mode, the fact Notre Dame is now a legit player in this recruitment is a big step in the right direction.

Should Notre Dame be able to come from behind and pull off this upset it would give the Irish its best back-to-back running back haul since 2007-08, when the Irish signed Top 100 backs Armando Allen and Robert Hughes in 2007, and then added Top 100 back Jonas Gray in 2008.

The Irish landed Top 100 running back Chris Tyree last season, and Notre Dame has a commitment from Logan Diggs in the 2021 class. Diggs is one of the most underrated backs in the country, and he will be hard to keep off the field at Notre Dame.

Adding Edwards to that duo would give Notre Dame the kind of elite running back talent it hasn’t landed in quite some time. Notre Dame has shown in 2020 that it can get touches for three backs, and the trio of Tyree, Edwards and Diggs in a two-year class would be outstanding.


Edwards is a consensus Top 100 recruit and the No. 36 overall player in the country on the 247Sports composite ranking.

ANOTHER CORNER IS STILL A POSSIBILITY

There are two cornerbacks on the board that would make a lot sense for this class. I explained why there is a need for a fifth defensive back HERE, and Los Angeles (Calif.) Loyola four-star cornerback Ceyair Wright is the player at the top of the board. We reported in our post-Clemson nuggets that Wright is still in constant contact with Notre Dame.

If Wright stays on the West Coast, and my latest intel is that ultimately that’s what he’ll do, the staff could make a push for Merrilville (Ind.) High School athlete JoJo Johnson. Landing either would be important for the secondary.

The nation’s No. 76 overall player on the 247Sports composite ranking, Wright would be a needle moving recruit from a rankings standpoint. If Notre Dame gets two of Wright, Edwards and Gilliam it would give the class a huge boost. Getting all three of those prospects could have the Irish pushing for a Top 5 class.

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