Two weeks away from the start of his junior season, 2022 Evanston (Ill.) Township linebacker and Notre Dame prospect Sebastian Cheeks is staying focused on his junior season, not recruiting.
Cheeks says he's focused on returning to the field after a 2019 shoulder injury ended his season early. Despite the injury, Cheeks remains ranked as one of the nation’s best linebackers. A consensus 4-star recruit, Cheeks is ranked by Rivals as the No. 109 overall player in the country, and he’s No. 142 according to 247Sports.
Despite the attention from recruiting services and programs like Notre Dame, Michigan, Oregon, Texas and Stanford, Cheeks has tunnel vision and is focused only on his junior football season. Even with that focus on his junior season, Cheeks has a plan in place for his recruitment.
"I plan to commit before my senior year,” Cheeks told Irish Breakdown. “I'm not sure whether I'll narrow the list down to a top five or commit to a school on the spot, but the plan is to make a decision and be committed before my senior year."
He's also received an offer from Vanderbilt, a program now run by former Notre Dame defensive coordinator Clark Lea, who took the head coaching job in Nashville back in December of 2020. With Lea's departure, Notre Dame hired rising star Marcus Freeman, who has been in constant contact with Cheeks since joining the staff.
"I talk to Coach Freeman and [Defensive Analyst Nick] Lezynski often,” continued Cheeks. “It definitely helps with Coach Freeman, having played the same position as me that we can have very open communication. He sees a lot of himself in me and how I play the game. I've even had some conversations with Coach [Brian] Kelly since Coach Lea left."
Sebastian remains enthusiastic about Notre Dame, noting that he's already made three unofficial visits to South Bend and is looking forward to taking an official visit as soon as visits are allowed again.
The Evanston Wildkits play their first game on March 19th against Glenbrook (Ill.) North and end their season on April 16th against Glenbrook (Ill.) South.
Notre Dame will likely have to wait before Cheeks makes a decision, and while they wait the staff will continue to pursue Cheeks enthusiastically. He made it clear that he feels the coaches are putting on the press for him to commit, and when you consider how impressive the Notre Dame board is at the linebacker position, and how close the Irish are to adding to the class that already has Nolan Ziegler, things could get interesting very soon.
Sebastian expects to be a two-way starter for the Wildkits this year, playing both running back and outside linebacker. A healthy and productive season could result in Cheeks seeing his offer list grow even more, and his recruiting could pick up to an ever greater degree. Notre Dame will continue to make Cheeks a priority.
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