Xavier Watts nearly committed to Notre Dame over the weekend.
The 2020 wide receiver out of Omaha (Neb.) Burke liked what he heard from Notre Dame’s coaching staff. The Irish coaches broke down film with Watts, demonstrating how he could fit into their offense. They even compared him to former Notre Dame receiver Miles Boykin.
Watts almost pulled the trigger following the film session, but he felt compelled to take his time.
“I was like, ‘Wait, let me chill out a bit. Let me go home and think about this,’ ” Watts told the Tribune.
That hesitation does not mean anything changed for Watts. The 6-foot-1, 175-pounder could commit to Notre Dame within the next couple days — or it could take another week. Watts wanted to let the dust settle before making a decision, he said.
Nebraska and Michigan could receive visits from Watts. It’s more probable than not, though, that Watts won’t take any other visits and will land in Notre Dame’s 2020 recruiting class.
Both of Watts’ parents, Jeff (father) and Fallon (mother), would support him committing to the Irish. They accompanied Xavier on his official visit to South Bend. Watts would become the first Nebraska recruit to sign with the Irish under head coach Brian Kelly. He would enroll early.
“It’s just a top tier program,” said Watts of Notre Dame. “They are a really good football program, and it shows a lot because I’m just a kid from Nebraska being looked at by them. And being a top priority for them.
“They are great for school. You are set up for life when you get a degree from there.”
The Irish are making Watts, a three-star recruit, feel like a top priority. He became even more important after Jalen McMillan committed to Washington over Notre Dame on Tuesday. The Fresno (Calif.) San Joaquin Memorial product was one of ND’s top targets.
Notre Dame hopes to add two more receivers this cycle. Jordan Johnson, a five-star receiver per 247Sports, verbally pledged to the Irish in April.
Most recruiting analysts consider Frankfort (Ill.) Lincoln-Way East’s A.J. Henning, a top Irish target, as a lock to Michigan. With McMillan committed elsewhere, Shrewsbury (Mass.) St. John’s High’s Jay Brunelle and Watts might be the best remaining receiver targets. Brunelle considers Notre Dame and Michigan as his top two schools.
Watts would bring much-needed speed with his 4.49 40-yard dash time. He also has the production to match. Watts registered 67 receptions for 1,093 yards and 14 touchdowns in 13 games as a junior. 247Sports ranks Watts as its No. 77 wide receiver and No. 412 overall player, while Rivals slates him No. 94 at the position.
“Big time athlete and the number one player in Nebraska,” CBS Sports Network recruiting analyst Tom Lemming said of Watts. “Another guy who could help spread a defense. They should add one more of these type of guys. Jordan Johnson is a Michael Floyd-type — the physical, leaping ability type guy.
“They need a guy that can fly. They would love that, and Watts is one who could really run.”
Last weekend marked Watts’ third trip to South Bend. He first trekked to Notre Dame’s Sept. 29 home game against Stanford. After reporting an Irish offer on Jan. 26, Watts took an April 11 unofficial visit and watched a spring practice.
The following recruits also took June 21-23 official visits to Notre Dame: offensive linemen commits Michael Carmody and Tosh Baker, long snapper commit Alex Peitsch, running back commit Chris Tyree, cornerback commit Landen Bartleson and cornerback targets Christian Gonzalez, William Nixon and Caleb Offord.
Bartleson became Irish commit No. 14 for 2020 after publicly announcing his decision on Monday. Southaven (Miss.) High’s Caleb Offord — who plans to commit on July 4 — is in line to become commit No. 15.
Or maybe No. 16, depending on Watts’ timeline.
“They for sure have made me feel like I’m a top priority,” Watts said. “They want me to come there and be a playmaker. They see me as someone who can really impact their offense.”