The fallout from Will Shipley’s verbal commitment to Clemson in early May called for Notre Dame to suddenly start fresh with its approach toward running back recruiting in the 2021 class.
Needing approximately three months, the Irish coaching staff has now executed its revised plan.
Logan Diggs, a three-star running back from Metairie (La.) Archbishop Rummel, announced his pledge to Notre Dame via Twitter on Wednesday.
247Sports ranks the 6-foot, 191-pound Diggs as its No. 39 running back and No. 639 overall player in the class, while Rivals pegs him No. 29 at the position. His commitment brings Notre Dame’s pledge count for the 2021 cycle to 14, elevating the class to No. 13 and No. 17 nationally on Rivals and 247Sports, respectively.
“Logan is a good, solid back,” said Tom Lemming, a recruiting analyst for CBS Sports Network. “The reason I like him is because he can run, catch and block. Rummel had him doing all three things. He’s good at all three, not great, but good at all three. He doesn’t fumble and is steady between the tackles but is not a game-breaker.”
Notre Dame coveted a 2021 running back who brought a balanced skill set. Diggs pairs a powerful running style with a shiftiness that features plenty of jump cuts. He turned 165 carries into 924 yards and five touchdowns while catching 26 passes for 186 yards and four scores in 13 games as a junior.
“His versatility,” ARHS head football coach Nick Monica said about what makes Diggs impressive. “He’s got the capability to be a physical runner when he needs to. He will make you miss in the open field when he needs to. A pass protector. Catching the ball out of the backfield. He’s a very versatile running back.”
Led by run game coordinator Lance Taylor, the Irish pursued Shipley harder than maybe any recruit in 11 classes under head coach Brian Kelly. They even minimized contact with other running back recruits while channeling their efforts toward the Matthews (N.C.) Weddington High product.
So when Shipley committed elsewhere, the Irish were left with minimal options and needed to extend more scholarship offers. Diggs accrued his offer on the same day Shipley announced his decision, May 5. Cypress (Texas) Cy-Fair’s LJ Johnson, Conroe (Texas) Oak Ridge’s Alton McCaskill and Del Valle (Texas) High’s Tavierre Dunlap were also offered that month but eventually disappeared as options.
“Taylor is a good recruiter. His only mistake was putting all his eggs in one basket, which is something the great schools never do,” Lemming said. “Clemson was after 10 running backs this year; they just happened to get Shipley.”
In-state powerhouse LSU showed interest in Diggs as a linebacker but never offered. USC, Ole Miss, Oklahoma State and Arizona State were among schools vying for him. Diggs considered the Trojans and the Irish to be his favorites and had been torn between the two in the weeks before his decision.
Monica said the Irish coaching staff made a lasting impact in June by telling him that they consider Diggs to be their No. 1 running back priority.
“I think they’ve done a really good job of staying on him and pursuing him pretty heavily in terms of the amount of phone calls they made, staying in touch with him and giving him the right selling points,” Monica said.
Defensive pass game coordinator Terry Joseph stopping by ARHS in January had already piqued Diggs' interest. In recalling his 15 years of coaching at the school, Monica said he could not remember Notre Dame recruiting one of his players.
Hired at Notre Dame in 2018, Joseph brought recruiting ties from the Pelican State after spending his first decade of coaching in Louisiana at Archbishop Shaw High, Destrehan High, LSU and Louisiana Tech. The only Louisiana products to sign with the Irish under Kelly are defensive tackle Jerry Tillery, wide receivers Michael Young and Lawrence Keys III, and defensive end Bo Wallace, who transferred to Arizona State before he ever enrolled at ND.
Joseph remained involved with Diggs’ recruitment in a secondary role behind offensive coordinator Tommy Rees and Taylor. They overcame the disadvantage of Diggs having never visited Notre Dame. He will not be able to see campus until the NCAA lifts the recruiting dead period, which prohibits official and unofficial visits.
The coronavirus pandemic has prompted the NCAA to continually extend the dead period since March. The current mandate lasts through Aug. 31 but could be extended again.
“It maybe even helped,” said Monica about Diggs’ relative unfamiliarity with Notre Dame. “I don’t believe we’ve had anybody from the school go to Notre Dame to play football, at least not since I’ve been here. So that maybe even helped to be able to say that.”
Not landing Shipley forced the Irish to reconstruct their plan. Lemming said he expects the 2022 class to be a more successful venture for Taylor.
“I think Taylor is an up-and-coming star as a recruiter,” Lemming said. “Every kid I talk to loves him. He’s bright, energetic, personable and he knows what he wants. I think next year, he will go after a good handful of backs and will get one really good one for sure. Maybe two.
"If you had to bet on anybody for next year to land a five-star recruit, it would be Taylor as a five-star back for next year because of his work at recruiting.”
Big time!! Lets get it ☘️💪🏼 https://t.co/0moUItckJj— Pat Coogan (@coogs53) July 29, 2020
WE ARE NOT DONE YET!!! 🤭☘️😏☘️ pic.twitter.com/Xwu94mP1yb— Blake Fisher☘️ (@bfisher54_) July 29, 2020