Notre Dame football recruiting notebook: Louisiana DB receives Irish offer

TYLER JAMES South Bend Tribune
ND Insider

Mattrell McGraw saw the message on Facebook on Wednesday morning but it didn’t register. Still half asleep, he just assumed another coach was reaching out to him about recruiting.

But McGraw couldn’t fall back asleep. So he started his morning routine and returned to Facebook to realize Notre Dame cornerbacks coach Kerry Cooks had delivered the offer.

“Once I was fully awake I reread the message and realized it was coach Cooks from Notre Dame.” McGraw said. “I was pretty excited about it.”

The offer instantly put the Irish as the ninth school in what originally had been a top eight for McGraw. The 5-foot-11, 183-pound defensive back from Louisiana had been in touch with Notre Dame recruiting coordinator Tony Alford a few weeks prior and was told the defensive coaching staff would review his film. The Irish pulled the trigger at the conclusion of the spring evaluation period.

McGraw becomes the third 2014 prospect from John Curtis Christian in River Ridge, La., to receive a Notre Dame offer. Wide receiver Malachi Dupre and linebacker Kenny Young both received offers earlier this year. The three aren’t a package deal, McGraw said, but they do tend to visit the same schools together. The trio already has visited UCLA together and will likely visit Arkansas together as well. If all three remain interested in the Irish, they could take a visit to Notre Dame as a group.

McGraw, who has Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona State, Florida State, Oregon, UCLA, Ohio State, USC and Notre Dame in his top group, says he plans to name a top three before his senior season this fall. Then those three would likely receive official visits.

No unofficial visits are planned yet for this summer.

"It's all going to come down to coaching — how I feel about the coaching staff,” McGraw said. “I pay attention to Notre Dame a lot because they're on a main stage. I don't really have the expenses to visit eight different schools in the summer. I'm going to have to make some decisions off of the coaches and that information. Me not visiting Notre Dame (this summer) won't hurt their chances of making it into my top three at all.”

Like many schools, the Irish are recruiting McGraw as a safety. The three-star prospect is ranked as the No. 30 player at the position by and slated by at No. 49.

As he wades through his options this summer, McGraw has four factors that will play a major role in his decision: “a rich tradition, somewhere I can go and have a chance at playing time my freshman year, a stable coaching staff, and somewhere I can live outside of football and not be depressed when it's no longer football season.”

McGraw recorded 65 tackles last fall as a junior for John Curtis, a team that was named high school national champions by the likes of Rivals, Max Preps and USA Today. McGraw intercepted four passes, two of those being returned for touchdowns.

Closer look for DE Nelson

Matt Nelson returned to Notre Dame for an unofficial visit on Friday to learn more about the academic side of the school.

The 6-foot-8, 245-pound defensive end prospect from Xavier High in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, spent time with Fr. James Foster, an assistant dean for the college of science, and Dr. Brian Ratigan, an orthopedic surgeon on Notre Dame’s medical staff, to learn more about the pre-med program at the university.

Focused on a top three of Iowa, Stanford and Notre Dame, Nelson said he’s gathering all the information he can for a possible decision at the end of June or beginning of July.

Nelson has one more visit planned, a trip to Stanford June 17-22 for its junior day and summer camp. That visit will set up what’s turning into a tough decision for Nelson.

“Each school is just fantastic,” said the three-star recruit. “It's all going to come down to which place feels right for me. It will be a gut feeling.”

Staff writer Tyler James: