Jalen McMillan and Lathan Ransom spoiled any optimism for a major surprise coming Notre Dame’s way during this week’s three-day early signing period, which begins Wednesday.
McMillan, a four-star wide receiver out of Fresno (Calif.) San Joaquin Memorial, publicly reaffirmed his commitment to Washington this month after questions arose about his status. Former Notre Dame offensive coordinator Chip Long and current Irish wide receivers coach DelVaughn Alexander visited McMillan on Dec. 2 — the same day Huskies head coach Chris Petersen stepped down. Their efforts couldn’t persuade McMillan to reconsider.
Ransom also ranked Notre Dame as his No. 2 school, behind Ohio State. The four-star safety out of Tucson (Ariz.) Salpointe Catholic had his pledge questioned once his future position coach on the Buckeyes, co-defensive coordinator/defensive backs coach Jeff Hafley, took Boston College’s head coaching job. Ransom ended any speculation on Monday, tweeting that he plans to sign with OSU.
Those developments leave Notre Dame with only one possible addition to its 2020 class, to go with 17 commits, on Wednesday: Ramon Henderson. The 6-foot-3, 190-pound cornerback will make his decision public between 4:15-4:30 p.m. (EST) on Wednesday via a ceremony from his high school at Bakersfield (Calif.) Liberty.
Notre Dame expects to land Henderson, who would enroll in January at his school of his choosing. Henderson wanted an early start at development after spending his first two high school seasons as a wide receiver. He started playing both ways as a junior.
Henderson’s smaller Division I offers list at receiver turned into Oklahoma, UCLA, Utah, Washington and others becoming interested in him as a cornerback. But he still does not project as a plug-and-play cornerback, maybe the biggest position of need for the Irish in 2020.
247Sports bumped Henderson to four-star status after he became more comfortable at cornerback this season. He ranks as 247’s No. 11 multi-position athlete and No. 266 overall player. Rivals still considers Henderson as a three-star recruit.
The Irish coaching staff seems to value Henderson more like 247Sports than Rivals. Head coach Brian Kelly, defensive coordinator Clark Lea and special teams coordinator Brian Polian (Dec. 4), plus defensive pass game coordinator Terry Joseph (Dec. 10), had in-home visits with Henderson this month.
Notre Dame also spent three months holding a spot for Henderson in a class tight on numbers. The most recent pledge for the Irish from a 2020 recruit came via receiver Xavier Watts on July 5. Henderson has been the only 2020 recruit to take an official visit to Notre Dame since then, coming to South Bend for the Sept. 28 Virginia game.
By signing with Notre Dame, Henderson would join three-star cornerbacks Landen Bartleson, Caleb Offord and Clarence Lewis. The Irish are not in position to land any other 2020 recruits, though circumstances could shift before the late National Signing Day, in February.
Only one recruiting class in the Brian Kelly Era hauled in fewer than 21 signees: the class 2012 with 17. Smaller classes tend to result in lower team recruiting rankings. That 2012 class ranked outside the top 10 nationally on both 247Sports and Rivals. Notre Dame’s 2020 class ranks No. 15 and No. 16 on those recruiting sites, respectively.
Graduate transfer Isaiah Pryor will not be officially included in Notre Dame’s 2020 recruiting class total. But the former Ohio State safety made his commitment official by signing last week, his father Richard Pryor told the Tribune.
Isaiah received his bachelor’s degree from OSU on Sunday and moved to South Bend on Monday. He’s not eligible to practice for Notre Dame this month but will enroll in January. Pryor will partake in spring football and have two seasons of eligibility remaining.