Notre Dame National Signing Day Preview: Targets, Predictions and Rumor Roundup
Less than a week remains until Notre Dame puts the finishing touches on its 2014 recruiting class.
On Wednesday, the program's 20 current commits, plus any remaining targets who choose to pledge to the Irish, will sign their national letters of intent, effectively becoming another layer of Notre Dame's present and future.
247sports.com currently ranks Notre Dame's 2014 crop as the nation's ninth best, behind Georgia, Auburn, Tennessee, Florida State, LSU, Texas A&M, Ohio State and Alabama, though the possibility certainly exists for the Irish to leapfrog a few of those teams with additional commitments on national signing day.
For that potential jump and everything else you need to know about Notre Dame recruiting leading up to national signing day, keep it here at Bleacher Report.
*All recruiting rankings courtesy of 247Sports.
Looking at the Commits
Following is a list of Notre Dame's commitments, courtesy of BlueandGoldIllustrated.com. The class currently sits at 22, with two of those prospects—defensive end Andrew Trumbetti and receiver Justin Brent—having enrolled at the university for the spring semester. The Irish's class is currently ranked ninth nationally, according to 247sports.com.
Nyles Morgan, LB, Crete, Ill. (Crete-Monee)
Quenton Nelson, OT, Red Bank, N.J. (Red Bank Catholic)
Justin Brent, WR, Indianapolis, Ind. (Speedway)
Alex Bars, OT, Nashville, Tenn. (Montgomery Bell Academy)
Andrew Trumbetti, DE, Demarest, N.J. (Demarest)
Nick Watkins, CB, Dallas, Texas (Bishop Dunne)
Corey Holmes, WR, Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (St. Thomas Aquinas)
Sam Mustipher, OG, Olney, Md. (Good Counsel)
DeShone Kizer, QB, Toledo, Ohio (Central Catholic)
Jay Hayes, DT, Brooklyn, N.Y. (Poly Prep)
Nic Weishar, TE, Chicago (Marist)
Grant Blankenship, DE, The Colony, Texas (The Colony)
Drue Tranquill, S, Fort Wayne, Ind. (Carroll)
Tyler Luatua, TE, La Mirada, Calif. (La Mirada)
Jimmy Byrne, OG, Cleveland (St. Ignatius)
Greer Martini, LB, Woodberry Forest, Va. (Woodberry Forest)
Nile Sykes, LB, Lombard, Ill. (Montini Catholic)
Jonathan Bonner, DE, Chesterfield, Mo. (Parkway Central)
Kolin Hill, LB, Schertz, Texas (Samuel Clemens)
Jhonathan Williams, DE, Berrien Springs, Mich. (Berrien Springs)
Pete Mokwuah, DT, Staten Island, N.Y. (St. Joseph by the Sea)
Tyler Newsome, K, Carrollton, Ga. (Carrollton)
John "JuJu" Smith: One of the few uncommitted 5-star prospects remaining in the nation, Smith has kept Notre Dame among his favorites leading up to national signing day. The 6'1", 200-pound athlete officially visited Notre Dame in October to take in the Irish's 14-10 victory against his hometown USC Trojans. Those same Trojans, despite the new hire of head coach Steve Sarkisian, have remained the favorite to land Smith. Nothing is official as of yet, meaning his decision on national signing day is far from a certainty of a commitment to any school.
Michiah Quick: Will Notre Dame's misfortune at Fresno (Calif.) Central East High School finally come to an end? It certainly could with the Irish's recruitment of the 6'0", 170-pound athlete. Pete Sampson of IrishIllustrated.com recently spoke with Quick's position coach, Tony Perry, with Perry coming away impressed from Brian Kelly's recent in-home visit with him and Quick. The Irish appear to be in great standing with Quick, though no clear favorite exists.
Courtney Garnett: A late addition to Notre Dame's radar, the defensive tackle from New Orleans has an official visit scheduled for Friday (Jan. 31), which is his final official visit. With the Irish desperate for depth along the interior of the defensive line, Garnett would be a crucial addition to Notre Dame's 2014 class. Garnett decommitted from Texas on Jan. 7 in the wake of Mack Brown's firing and was offered by the Irish on Jan. 27.
Daniel Cage: Like Garnett, Cage was a late target on the Irish's radar and is a formidable defensive tackle who possesses the capability to contribute immediately along Notre Dame's defensive line. An earlier relationship with Notre Dame fizzled after former defensive coordinator Bob Diaco backed off. However, Diaco's replacement, Brian VanGorder, made Cage a priority, resulting in an official visit from the Cincinnati native on Jan. 29.
Terrence Alexander: Yet another late addition to the Irish's recruiting radar, Alexander is down to Stanford, Ole Miss and Notre Dame. The 5'10", 180-pound New Orleans native recently had an in-home visit with Kelly and remains in good standing with the Irish. And with just one defensive back commitment in the Irish's class—Nick Watkins—Alexander could be the second.
Note: Isaiah McKenzie revealed to Tom Loy of BlueandGoldIllustrated.com that Notre Dame is no longer in contention for his services. After Virginia Tech offered the Fort Lauderdale, Fla., native, he eliminated the Irish.
Michiah Quick, ATH...Prediction: Notre Dame
With Isaiah McKenzie now off Notre Dame's board, expect the Irish to make an "all systems go" run at Quick. The quick athlete—pun intended—would fit the bill as a slot receiver (z receiver in technical terms) in the Irish's spread offense. And given the positivity emanating from Quick's in-home visit with Kelly, my original prediction of Quick to Oklahoma has now swayed in the Irish's favor.
John "JuJu" Smith, ATH...Prediction: USC
My prediction for Smith hasn't changed in recent days, despite some positive comments regarding his stance with Notre Dame, via Tom Loy of BlueandGoldIllustrated.com. The Long Beach, Calif., native has unofficially visited USC on multiple occasions with a close group of friends and fellow prospects, and he took an official visit to the school on Jan. 24. That momentum is clearly swinging in the Trojans' direction, making a commitment to Sarkisian and the Trojans the expected outcome.
Courtney Garnett, DT...Prediction: Notre Dame
Late momentum in the recruiting cycle typically hasn't gone in the Irish's favor in recent years, though that doesn't appear to be the case with Garnett. The New Orleans native took his final official visit to Notre Dame on Friday (Jan. 31) after being offered by the Irish on the 27th. The Texas decommitment is also being heavily courted by Tennessee and Oklahoma. But with the prospect of immediate playing time along the Irish's defensive line as a recruiting pitch, a commitment from Garnett wouldn't be surprising.
Daniel Cage, DT...Prediction: Michigan State
My stance on Cage has changed since earlier in the week due to Notre Dame's late run at Garnett. With Michigan State having been involved with Cage throughout the process, the Spartans are listed as the favorites to land him on national signing day. Despite Cage having worked out a time in his hectic schedule to officially visit Notre Dame's campus on Jan. 29, the Irish's pursuit of Garnett could prove to be a turnoff for Cage.
Terrence Alexander, CB...Prediction: Notre Dame
In a recent conversation with John Talty of the Clarion Ledger, Alexander stated that his in-home visit with Kelly went well, and that he's still looking for the best fit for him. Per Talty, Alexander said he wants a "program that has a good foundation in academics, a school where I can fit in the system and the best opportunity on the football field." The Irish certainly fit that bill.
Tom Loy of 247sports.com goes in depth on Isaiah McKenzie's decision to eliminate Notre Dame from his recruitment options (subscription required).
Pete Sampson of IrishIllustrated.com digs into Michiah Quick's recruitment, which has come down to UCLA, Oklahoma and Notre Dame. Could a recent in-home visit with Notre Dame sway him to the Irish? (subscription required)
Steve Hare of IrishIllustrated.com sheds some light on Terrence Alexander's recruitment. The New Orleans native is down to Stanford, Ole Miss and Notre Dame. With academics playing a large part in his decision, could Alexander be Irish? (subscription required)
Steve Wiltfong of 247sports.com has the latest on what's happening with Notre Dame defensive tackle target Daniel Cage (subscription required).