College football coaches had a tough time reaching Landen Bartleson over the last couple months.
That is, everyone but Notre Dame’s coaching staff. The Irish cemented themselves as Bartleson’s favorite school following his April 5-6 unofficial visit to South Bend. The three-star cornerback then limited all communication with other schools.
Following his June 21-23 official visit to Notre Dame, Bartleson made his feeling public. The Danville (Ky.) Boyle County product verbally committed to the Irish. He came to the decision on Sunday and made the news official via Twitter on Monday.
Notre Dame’s 2020 recruiting class of 14 commits now ranks No. 6 and No. 7 nationally on 247Sports and Rivals, respectively.
“I had coaches throughout the spring say, ‘Hey, I can’t really get in touch with Landen,’ ” said Chuck Smith, Boyle County’s head football coach. “I would say, ‘Well, I have a hard time reaching him myself at times, but I know he doesn’t really live on his phone.’ ”
Colleges envisioned Bartleson at running back, corner or safety. The 6-foot-1, 185-pounder possesses the speed, size and athleticism needed at those positions.
Bartleson clocked a 4.39 40-yard dash at an Ohio State football camp last summer. As a freshman, Bartleson earned a Kentucky High School Athletic Association Class 2A title with his 10.95 100-meter dash.
Tom Lemming, a recruiting analyst for CBS Sports Network, deemed Bartleson as the best cornerback that trekked to Notre Dame over the weekend. Corners Christian Gonzalez, William Nixon and Caleb Offord joined Bartleson for official visits.
“He has loose hips,” said Lemming, who pegs Bartleson as a four-star-plus recruit. “He can cover well. He’s smooth in transitions. He’s got great burst and confidence. He’s a confident player, but he’s a Notre Dame-type kid.”
ESPN and 247Sports still list Bartleson as a running back. The latter recruiting site considers Bartleson as its No. 36 running back and No. 474 overall player. Louisville and Colorado were among schools that wanted Bartleson at the position.
Splitting time with two other backs, Bartleson ran for 768 yards and 12 touchdowns on 109 carries in 12 games last season. He also tallied 34 tackles, two tackles for a loss, six pass breakups and two interceptions.
“Since the first game of his freshman year, he has been our starting corner,” Smith said. “I don’t think Landen has gone to many camps over the years. I think he has gone to one or two. He’s not that kind of guy.
“He’s not that kind of guy who wants all the attention on him.”
Smith returned to Boyle County following an eight-year stint as the University of Kentucky linebackers coach and recruiting coordinator. He said Bartleson already looks more physically developed than the players the Wildcats tended to sign during his time there (2005-12).
“He’s more like a sophomore in college right now,” Smith said. “It’s like he has already been on the team and developed physically for a year.”
Kentucky offered Bartleson, as well as Ohio State, Louisville, Michigan, West Virginia and others. The Irish followed suit after Bartleson took an unofficial visit for Notre Dame’s Nov. 10 home game against Florida State.
Two more unofficial visits later — one for a Feb. 23 junior day and the other for an April 5-6 trip — and Bartleson made up his mind. Now he's officially a part of ND's recruiting class, joining New Jersey corner Clarence Lewis.
“That’s when he really fell in love with it,” said Smith of the April trip. “He got to go to a class and hang around some of the guys. When he came back, that’s what he talked about a lot.
“The very first time he went to Notre Dame, I could just tell there was something different about him. You could just tell that he absolutely loved it on his first trip there. That’s what he talked about mostly, Notre Dame, over the months of the recruiting process.”