Brian Polian is not Ramon Henderson’s mother.
Polian, Notre Dame’s special teams coordinator, made that clear with the cornerback recruit out of Bakersfield (Calif.) Liberty High. His pursuit of the 6-foot-2, 183-pounder out of the 2020 recruiting class will not entail persistent contact.
Their phone conversations will last no longer than 10 minutes. Their text exchanges will not consist of fluff and meaningless banter.
The Irish have been clear with Henderson of their interest. They are holding a spot for the three-star recruit, and nothing will change that. So contacting him on a daily basis like a mother would is not necessary.
“That straightforward honesty is something that I like,” Henderson told the Tribune.
Patience has been the theme for Notre Dame’s 2020 recruiting class over the past couple months. By July 5, the Irish added pledge No. 17 in wide receiver Xavier Watts. Only a couple spots remain, which is why the Irish are willing to take their time for the remainder of this cycle.
Henderson will take an official visit to watch No. 10 Notre Dame (2-1) face No. 18 Virginia (4-0) this Saturday (3:30 p.m. EDT on NBC). He’s the only uncommitted recruit with an official visit scheduled to South Bend this fall.
Argyle (Texas) Liberty Christian’s Collin Gamble had planned to take an official visit for this Saturday as well. The three-star cornerback pledged to California following a trip there last weekend, however.
So for now, Henderson stands as Notre Dame’s next option. He plans to announce a commitment in December. The Irish informed Henderson that they have a spot for him no matter when he decides. Three-star cornerbacks Caleb Offord, Landen Bartleson and Clarence Lewis are already pledged to the Irish.
“That’s crazy to me,” said Henderson, who would enroll early. “I’m already getting the offer. That was the first opportunity given to me. But them saving a spot for me is an even bigger blessing.”
Recruiting sites don’t consider Henderson as a top prospect. 247Sports pegs Henderson as an athlete, ranking him No. 76 at that position and as its No. 1,023 overall player. Rivals evaluates Henderson as an unranked wide receiver.
Last season’s move to cornerback, though, resulted in Henderson attracting more attention. Notre Dame (May 24), Oklahoma, UCLA and California were among schools to extend a scholarship offer following last season. A few programs are also interested in him as a wide receiver.
“The natural movements, the turning of the hips and the explosion that he has once he turned the hips,” Liberty head coach Bryan Nixon said of Henderson’s strengths. “I think those were some of the things that he was able to pick up right away.
“With his attitude and work ethic, we knew (the cornerback move) was going to be something special.”
The Irish secondary may need an influx of young players that can see the field early. Eligibility expires for safety Jalen Elliott and cornerbacks Shaun Crawford, Donte Vaughn and Troy Pride Jr. following 2019. Elliott’s fellow safety starter Alohi Gilman may depart early for the NFL Draft.
Should Gilman leave, the Irish would have three scholarship safeties on their roster: freshmen Kyle Hamilton and Litchfield Ajavon and sophomore DJ Brown. No safety out of the 2020 class is committed to the Irish either.
“They said I could come in and play early if that’s really what I wanted to do,” Henderson said. “I would have to work and everything would have to work out when I got here.”
Notre Dame defensive pass game coordinator Terry Joseph has discussed a potential move to safety with Offord. Lewis and Bartleson also have the skill sets to handle that position switch.
Nixon said Henderson possesses the traits necessary to play safety, though the Irish coaching staff has not indicated such a move as their plan for Henderson.
“He’s physical, he’s big and there’s no telling once he gets on a consistent weight program,” said Nixon, who added that Henderson runs a 10.5 100-meter dash. “He runs track, so he’s on an on-again off-again time.
“When those things start taking place and the maturation process works, there’s no telling. He could be 210 (pounds).”
Chris Tyree update
Notre Dame’s commit out of Chester, Va., will not suit up for Thomas Dale High’s home game against Petersburg on Friday.
Chris Tyree has been ruled out after injuring his right ankle in a Sept. 13 loss at Richmond (Va.) Hermitage. The senior running back suffered a “middle grade” high ankle sprain after someone landed on him from behind. He’s expected to return to action next week.
The prized four-star Irish commit held high aspirations before the injury. With 3,294 career rushing yards heading into the season, Tyree trailed former Thomas Dale running back Nick Fleming’s career total (5,169 yards) by almost 2,000 yards.
Tyree bulked up to 5-foot-10, 189 pounds and looked more formidable rushing between his offensive tackles. Tucker increased the speedster’s workload to 20 to 25 touches per game.
Two visitors for Notre Dame’s Sept. 14 home game against New Mexico left with scholarship offers. Wide receiver Andrel Anthony Jr. and safety Justin Walters, both 2021 recruits, reported offers.
A total of 24 recruits are expected to attend Saturday’s game against Virginia. The following Irish pledges will be in attendance: 2020 defensive tackle Aidan Keanaaina, 2021 tight end Cane Berrong and 2021 defensive tackle Gabriel Rubio.
The Irish are looking at New Prairie senior Chase Ketterer as a potential walk-on quarterback.