National Signing Day Inches Closer

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Photo Courtesy of Ryan Meyer/TNDDN

Twenty-one players have signed on the dotted line to play football for Notre Dame in 2018, but the coaching staff is still out on the trail looking to add more talent to the class. The December early signing period was supposed to take the luster and stress away from February, but at Notre Dame that is far from the truth. Only two weeks left until 2018 classes are complete, and the Irish are pursuing multiple athletes. What prospects remain? How many will Notre Dame take? Will Notre Dame finish strong for the second straight year? Let’s take a look at the remaining Irish football targets.

Offensive Line 

Notre Dame signed two offensive lineman during the early signing period and have Luke Jones committed and expected to sign in February. However, the staff wants to add one more to the group, and Notre Dame is battling it out for two high caliber recruits. Nicholas Petit-Frere has been an Irish target for several years now, and Notre Dame remains heavily in the mix. He took his official to Notre Dame back in October for the USC game, and has seen the campus multiple times. Alabama, Florida, Michigan and Ohio State round out his top five, and right now it is anyone’s guess where he ends up.

California four-star offensive tackle, Jarrett Patterson, officially visited Notre Dame this past weekend and expects to make a decision soon. Once an Arizona State commit, Patterson has aspirations to play for a high academic and powerhouse football program. His top three of Michigan, UCLA and Notre Dame all fit that billing. Notre Dame did a good job getting him to campus after offering late. Did they do enough to sway him to South Bend? We will know soon enough.

Offensive Skill Positions 

The coaching staff’s desire has always been four receivers and two running backs in this class, and with the dismissals of Kevin Stepherson, CJ Holmes and Deon McIntosh those needs only increased. Fortunately, Notre Dame is in good position with two remaining targets. Four-star Louisiana wide receiver, Lawrence Keys III, has long been a Notre Dame target, and has gone as far as naming Notre Dame his leader on multiple occasions. He finally made it up to South Bend this past weekend for an official visit, and from all reports it couldn’t have gone better. Keys plans on taking official visits to Texas and SMU in the coming weeks, but Keys seems like an Irish lean at the moment.

Running back C’Bo Flemister is a relatively new Notre Dame target. The Georgia Tech commit was offered this month and quickly set up a visit for this weekend. The three star Georgia product has seen his recruitment take off recently with interest from power five programs. Not long ago he was a Georgia Southern commit, and now it looks like Notre Dame and Tennessee will battle it out for his services. With only 3 scholarship running backs currently on the roster and a walk-on converted wide receiver, Mick Assaf, as the fourth option, Notre Dame desperately needs bodies at the position. Flemister isn’t the flashiest of recruits the Irish are targeting, but he would be a welcomed addition to the backfield.

Defensive Secondary 

After striking out at corner last season, Notre Dame has done a great job recruiting the position this year. The staff has three corners signed, but really wants to add one more body. Notre Dame remains in the mix with three guys, but it will be a battle to land any of them. Julius Irvin was reportedly set to sign with Notre Dame in December, but family issues stalled his decision and now Notre Dame seems to be running a distant third. Can’t help but think distance will play a factor for the stud out of Southern California. Noah Boykin is another kid the staff has been on for awhile, and at one point seemed destined to flip from Maryland to Notre Dame. Boykin didn’t sign in December with either school, and Florida has entered the mix. All three school have reason to believe they lead for the four-star corner.

The last and most recent corner target is Georgia four-star, Taiyon Palmer. Once a Duke commit, Palmer has seen his recruitment take as much as anyone in the month of January receiving offers from almost every program you can think of. Notre Dame had reason to believe their chances were good with Palmer after offering, but he canceled his visit this weekend in favor of Clemson. The staff will continue to push to receive his last official visit, but things look bleak.

Defensive Front Seven 

It remains to be seen if the staff is pushing hard for lineman and pass rushers, but a few guys are definitely in the mix. The staff welcomed defensive tackle Moro Ojomo to campus on an official visit this weekend, and he looks like a best available player take from the staff. Once an unknown quantity, Ojomo is rising up recruiting ranks fast. Similar to Ojomo is Alabama defensive end, Malik Langham. Langham visited Notre Dame the weekend of the Echoes banquet, but with several SEC offers since, the safe bet is for him to stay down south. Otito Ogbonnia and Derrick Eason are two more defensive lineman to be aware of. Ogbonnia’s offer came at the same time as Ojomo and Eason was offered this past week. Eason visits this weekend, and as a NC State commit he is obviously intrigued by the Notre Dame offer. It remains to be seen if Ogbonnia will visit.

The last player to keep an eye on is high school Butkus award winner, Solomon Tuliaupupu. He recently released a top three of USC, UCLA and Notre Dame, but could still visit Oklahoma and Ohio State. Tuliaupupu has an excellent relationship with new defensive coordinator Clark Lea, and it would be unwise to count Notre Dame out of this race. The general consensus is that USC eventually wins out, but Tuliaupupu is the best bet to pull off a Manti Te’o signing day announcement to Notre Dame.

Outlook

It is evident that Notre Dame remains in the mix with several recruits. The hope is to sign 4-5 more guys, but landing another offensive lineman, Lawrence Keys III and C’Bo Flemister along with signing Luke Jones would probably appease the staff. With that said, if the staff can land a secondary piece and possibly Tuliaupupu, Irish fans should be ecstatic with the finish from the staff.

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