Notre Dame football recruiting: Irish jump in, offer 8th-grader
Edward Moses Jr. had no idea his son had a scholarship offer from Notre Dame.
His son, Dylan, became a national story in the past year when LSU and Alabama became the first two schools to offer him a scholarship as an eighth-grader.
The offer list of the 15-year-old prospect from Baton Rouge, La., grew to 10 following a summer visit tour that included trips to Texas, Texas A&M, Georgia and Auburn. But when a family friend asked Moses Jr. about a Notre Dame offer being listed on his son’s profile on 247Sports.com, he thought someone made a mistake. He tracked down Irish cornerbacks coach Kerry Cooks, who recruits Louisiana for ND, and found out the offer was genuine.
“He wanted us to add Notre Dame to Dylan’s offer sheet because they were very interested,” Moses Jr. said.
NCAA rules prohibit the Irish coaching staff from contacting recruits before their junior year of high school, so Cooks had to wait for a call from the Moses family to formally extend a verbal offer. A number of Dylan’s offers have come while visiting a school. With no previous contact with Notre Dame, the offer was unexpected.
“It's very surprising to hear from Notre Dame. That's one of the storied universities in this country,” Moses Jr. said. “To have them excited and interested in Dylan, it's one of those that you're secretly in the corner getting excited about."
Still a month away from his first high school football game, Dylan has wowed college football powerhouses with impressive film and dominating performances on the camp circuit. Steve Wiltfong, national recruiting writer for 247Sports, saw Dylan in person last week at the Football University Top Gun camp in Dublin, Ohio competing with the likes of 2014 Notre Dame commit Elijah Hood and highly-touted 2015 prospect Chris Warren at running back.
“You see him standing next to Elijah Hood and Chris Warren, and he fits right in next to those guys as an eighth grader going to be a ninth grader,’’ Wiltfong said. “From a physical standpoint, he already has the tools to be an elite recruit with his athleticism when you look at his testing numbers. Then he gets out there and gets open and makes a bunch of plays. Not only is he there physically and athletically, but he's a pretty darn good football player right now too.”
At 6-foot-1, 220 pounds, Dylan boasts a 40-yard dash time of 4.4-seconds. Following after his father, who played linebacker at Division 1-AA Northwestern State from 1990-93, Dylan projects as a linebacker but has flashed running back skills as well. Coaches can only imagine the growth and development that will happen in the next four years before he steps onto a college football field.
“He definitely can run the ball, but his linebacker skills are, bar none, some of the best I've seen,” Moses Jr. said. “And I'm not being biased. He just picked up the position real well."
Wiltfong didn’t see Dylan work out as a linebacker in person, but saw the potential college coaches have seen.
“He's the most advanced middle school kid I've seen in my career. Every now and again you see a middle school kid with offers, but not to this magnitude,” Wiltfong said. “This kid is legit. His offer is definitely on potential, but he's capable now. A lot of offers that go out to young players are based on their upside. This kid's ready to go bang anywhere."
The trend of offering players continues to dip to lower ages, but the offer to Dylan Moses marks the first known time the Irish have been in on a kid before high school. USC’s Lane Kiffin offered quarterback David Sills as a seventh grader in 2010. In April, Vanderbilt reportedly offered seventh-grader Jahlen Jack. Kentucky received attention for offering 13-year-old Jairus Brents from New Albany, Ind., in June.
The list of examples continues to grow, but the spread of offers to Dylan stands as unique. His 11 offers consists of six SEC schools plus Florida State, Texas, Nebraska, UCLA and now Notre Dame. However, in the recruiting game of keeping up with the Joneses, offers coming in rapid succession hardly come as a surprise. Wiltfong said offering Dylan now was important for Notre Dame to be able to keep its name in the marathon race for his signature in February 2017.
“It's important because Alabama and LSU have already offered and he's got such strong interest in both programs. You don't want to give those two schools a two-year head start on you if you're already playing from behind anyway,” Wiltfong said. “He goes to school on LSU's campus. He grew up really liking Alabama. Notre Dame will eventually get a chance to show him what they're about and offering him earlier means that he'll visit earlier."
But what if Dylan was a Chicago-area player that Notre Dame discovered first? Would the Irish still extend an offer?
“I think it’s possible. They trust what they're doing at Notre Dame,” Wiltfong said. “He put himself on the map by dominating at two LSU camps. If he would have done that at Notre Dame's camp, they would have had a tough time not offering him.”
Dylan’s turn at a Notre Dame camp might come next summer. Moses Jr. said he plans to take his son on visits to all 11 schools that have offered him so far. For now, the focus will return to Dylan’s upcoming season at University Laboratory School.
"We're not putting any pressure on Dylan to live up to any expectations from anyone,” Moses Jr. said. “In his freshman year we expect him to play as a freshman. If he plays better than a freshman that's extra. If he doesn't, then we have a sophomore year to build on. We're looking for him to help the team reach the goals that we missed last year. They lost in the semifinals. Hopefully Dylan can plug the hole in the middle of the defense, stop the running game and cause these other teams to pass. If he does that, then he's more than done his job."
For now, the Moses family can avoid the flood of contact from college coaches that will come as soon as the NCAA allows it. Instead, they’ll have to deal with the media attention that has inevitably followed Dylan. ESPN the Magazine already featured him on the cover of its July 8 issue.
Is Moses Jr. ready for four more years of attention and scrutiny that comes with high-level college football recruitment?
"Oh, yeah. The question is, are ya'll ready for us?” Moses Jr. said. “That's the question."
Start the countdown to 2017.