The first crack at securing the next Chris Tyree looks to be in the works for Notre Dame this weekend.
Not that the skill set of high school junior Will Shipley mirrors that of Tyree, the standout Irish running back pledge. But both bring unheralded value as dynamic playmakers out of the backfield.
When Tyree arrives in South Bend next June, the Irish will take a long look at his elite short-area quickness and speed (4.37 40-yard dash). Shipley’s all-purpose ability draws comparisons with a former player of Irish running backs coach Lance Taylor — Christian McCaffrey, now with the Carolina Panthers.
The four-star Shipley will be among a handful of high-rated uncommitted juniors in South Bend this weekend. They will be in attendance to watch No. 9 Notre Dame (4-1) host rival USC (3-2) on Saturday (7:30 p.m. EDT on NBC).
“The kid is just as good as Chris Tyree,” said Tom Lemming, a recruiting analyst for CBS Sports Network. “He’s got an all-around game. He can run, he can block, he can catch. He does everything well. He’s an impactful offensive player.
“He’d be a good catch if Notre Dame could ever land him. It would give them some depth with Chris Tyree, because they don’t have that.”
The 5-foot-11, 200-pound Shipley ranks as 247Sports’ No. 1 all-purpose back and No. 44 overall player in the 2021 recruiting class. Rivals slates the Matthews (N.C.) Weddington High product No. 1 at the position and No. 53 overall.
Shipley’s most recent reported scholarship offer is Alabama, joining Notre Dame (April 29), N.C. State, North Carolina, Tennessee and others. Through six games this season, Shipley has turned 66 carries into 588 yards and nine touchdowns with 10 receptions for 132 yards and three scores.
The biggest Irish recruiting weekend this season also brings Ohio State graduate transfer safety Isaiah Pryor. A total of 10 Irish pledges out of the 2020 recruiting class, including Tyree, and four of their five 2021 commits are expected to be present as well.
“That’s good to have all these kids mingle and mix with each other,” Lemming said. “The guys that are committed to work on the uncommitted players for next year, that’s important. Notre Dame after last year’s class got ahead of the game.
“They started doing what Alabama, Ohio State and Clemson had been doing for a numbers of years, which is finishing your class and really work on the next class a year in advance.”
Below are the other uncommitted juniors with Irish offers who are expected to join Shipley this weekend.
• WR Lorenzo Styles Jr., 6-1, 170; Pickerington (Ohio) Central: A commitment could come soon from Styles. Four 247Sports recruiting analysts offered their forecasts this week for where they believe Styles will land. All four chose Notre Dame.
Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State and others are vying for Styles. He has trekked to Notre Dame a handful of times, with the most recent being for a Feb. 22-24 junior day.
“He’s one of the better athletes in Ohio,” Lemming said. “I was very impressed with him a year ago. He’s another impact skill player that (Notre Dame) would need. Notre Dame needs to bring an abundance of these kind of guys every year.”
247Sports: Four stars, No. 18 WR, No. 120 overall | Rivals: Four stars, No. 4 WR, No. 28 overall
• WR Deion Colzie, 6-4, 205; Athens (Ga.) Academy: A strong wide receiving haul seems to be in the works for Notre Dame’s 2020 and 2021 recruiting class. Jordan Johnson, a five-star recruit per Rivals, speedster Xavier Watts and Jay Brunelle feature the current Irish cycle.
Styles and Colzie look like the Irish duo for 2021. Colzie’s mother, Yolanda Jackson, has been a Notre Dame fan for decades. This will be Colzie’s fourth visit to Notre Dame, but Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee and others remain are also contenders.
“I’m starting to build a great relationship with (wide receivers coach) DelVaughn Alexander,” Colzie told the Tribune two weeks ago. “I’ve started to talk with (head coach) Brian Kelly a little more.
"From the start, Notre Dame has wanted to build a relationship with me.”
247Sports: Four stars, No. 6 WR, No. 55 overall | Rivals: Four stars, No. 6 ATH, No. 95 overall
• WR Jamareeh Jones, 6-1, 190; Highland Springs (Va.) High: Only on occasion does Notre Dame become the first major school to offer a recruit. But being the first Division I program to offer a recruit? That almost never happens for the Irish.
But it occurred with Jones, who reported his Notre Dame offer on May 1. Until this season, Jones hadn’t started a high school game. Now he looks the part as a quarterback, wide receiver and free safety.
North Carolina, Tennessee and Pittsburgh have since offered Jones. The Irish project Jones as a receiver, while Lemming envisions him at safety.
“Excellent range, good hands," Lemming said. "He’s a solid looking kid too. A very physical free safety. He’s a muscular kid who can hit.”
247Sports: Three stars, No. 37 ATH, No. 421 overall | Rivals: Three stars
• OL Rocco Spindler, 6-5, 290; Clarkston (Mich.) High: Lemming compared Spindler to the Bosa brothers, Joey and Nick. The defensive ends were first-round NFL Draft picks in 2016 and 2019, respectively.
The Irish see Spindler developing into an offensive guard or tackle. He plays both positions for Clarkston and also dabbles with defensive tackle.
“He’s not an end, but he’s a very talented, aggressive and productive ballplayer,” Lemming said. “Rocco may be the best lineman in the country — both ways, too. Rocco is the real deal.”
Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State and Arizona State are among those in pursuit of Spindler.
247Sports: Four stars, No. 7 OT, No. 31 overall player | Rivals: Four stars, No. 3 OG, No. 82 overall
• OL Garrett Dellinger, 6-6, 280; Clarkston (Mich.) High: Dellinger and Spindler may be a package deal. Both have been best friends since an early age and received Irish offers in September 2018. They return for another visit to South Bend.
Dellinger dropped in the recruiting rankings after missing most of last season with a shoulder injury. He has since focused on playing just offense and projects as a tackle.
“Notre Dame is one of the favorites for (Spindler) and Dellinger,” Lemming said. “If you land both of those guys, you are in business. You’ve got (offensive line coach) Jeff Quinn and (defensive line coach) Mike Elston working those guys. That’s a good combination.”
247Sports: Four stars, No. 1 OT, No. 36 overall | Rivals: Three stars, No. 36 OT
• DB Daylan Carnell, 6-2, 190; Indianapolis Ben Davis: How Carnell’s body grows over the next few years should determine if he’s a cornerback or safety in college. Lemming said Carnell has the look of a safety.
The Irish like Carnell at corner but that may change. Regardless, their interest and cornerbacks coach Todd Lyght has appealed to Carnell. He holds offers from Boston College, Iowa and Purdue, to name a few.
“Daylan specifically said that Lyght has done everything that he would like to do,” Daylan’s father, David, told the Tribune in late August. “He started at Notre Dame. He has been in the NFL. He’s played at the highest level. He’s won a national championship. That’s what is appealing about Todd Lyght to my son.
“He’s been there and one that. That speaks to him a lot.”
247Sports: Three stars, No. 41 ATH, No. 455 overall | Rivals: Four stars, No. 19 ATH, No. 231 overall player
• DE Najee Story, 6-4, 230; Solon (Ohio) High: Story landed a Notre Dame scholarship offer on Feb. 19 and is making his first reported trip to South Bend.
Alabama, Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State are among schools that have offered Story.
“This kid is the real deal,” Lemming said. “He looks thin at his weight. He can come off the edge like no one’s business. He’s a terrific talent. Najee fits into the type of players Notre Dame has at defensive end. He would be a perfect fit for the Irish. He will gain another 20 or 30 pounds next year. Once he does that, he will be lights out.”
247Sports: Four stars, No. 15 SDE, No. 218 overall | Rivals: Four stars, No. 5 WDE, No. 75 overall