Notre Dame football recruiting: Irish in hunt for Jersey DB Fitzpatrick

TYLER JAMES
South Bend Tribune

Minkah Fitzpatrick knows he wants to visit Notre Dame.

Days after receiving an offer from the Irish, the junior cornerback prospect insisted he’ll be making a trip to South Bend.

“I'm definitely going to try and get there sometime very soon,” Fitzpatrick said. “Either in the winter or in the spring, but I'm definitely going to get there this offseason.”

Fitzpatrick was alerted of his new offer on Friday following defensive coordinator Bob Diaco’s visit to St. Peter’s Prep in Jersey City, N.J. It marked the continuing of a relationship between Fitzpatrick and Notre Dame that’s been in the works for a while now.

“They've been sending me a lot of stuff in the mail, a lot of handwritten letters,” Fitzpatrick said. “I've been talking to a couple of coaches and recruiting coordinators on Twitter.”

The 6-foot, 187-pound cornerback considers the offer from Notre Dame an important one.

“It means a lot. It's a great school. It's a great program. It's a good academic school. They've had a lot of great players from New Jersey there. I was real excited."

Five current scholarship players on Notre Dame’s roster hail from New Jersey, including three members of the secondary: cornerbacks Bennett Jackson and Rashad Kinlaw and safety Elijah Shumate. Last season, New Jersey native Theo Riddick led the Irish in rushing before being drafted by the Detroit Lions in April.

Fitzpatrick could continue a successful run for Notre Dame in the Garden State. Considered the early favorite as the best prospect in the 2015 class for New Jersey, Fitzpatrick already has received high rankings, including a five-star rating from Rivals.com. 247Sports ranks Fitzpatrick as the No. 35 overall prospect and No. 4 cornerback in 2015, and CBS Sports Network recruiting analyst Tom Lemming slates him No. 64 overall.

A late practice on Saturday with his undefeated St. Peter’s Prep team didn’t allow Fitzpatrick to make a planned trip to Penn State. He missed out on seeing the upset of Michigan in person, but he still hopes to catch a couple college games this fall. A trip to Ohio State on Oct. 26 is already penciled into his schedule. A visit to Rutgers and a couple other games may join the list, Fitzpatrick said.

With more than a dozen offers, Fitzpatrick remains in the beginning stages of evaluating potential fits for an eventual commitment.

“Getting to know the coaches and the players, that's something really important to me,” Fitzpatrick said of factors in his future decision. “Also the environment, the setting and the competitiveness of the schedule. That's something that’s really important to me because I love playing against the best and being challenged."

All schools are still on a level playing field with Notre Dame firmly in the mix.

"Right now I'm just keeping all the options open, doing my research and studying the different programs,” Fitzpatrick said.

Florida lineman receives offer

The Irish coaching staff continued its run of offers to prospects in the 2015 recruiting class with an offer to Tampa, Fla., offensive lineman Jake Fruhmorgen.

The 6-5, 280-pound prospect from Plant High School shared the news Monday on Twitter, adding that his grandpa’s favorite team is Notre Dame.

A four-star prospect, Fruhmorgen ranks as the No. 4 offensive tackle and No. 61 overall in the 2015 class according to 247Sports. He holds more than 20 offers from programs, including Alabama, Florida, Florida State and Ohio State.

Fruhmorgen’s offer marks the 10th Notre Dame offer reported by a junior prospect since Notre Dame’s game against Arizona State.

New commit rankings

247Sports released updated player rankings for the 2014 class last week. In its Top247, seven Notre Dame commitments made the cut.

Wide receiver Justin Brent remains the highest-ranked Irish commit according to 247Sports at No. 62 overall and the No. 5 wide receiver for 2014.

Other Notre Dame pledges making the list: offensive lineman Quenton Nelson (80), defensive end Andrew Trumbetti (119), quarterback DeShone Kizer (147), offensive lineman Alex Bars (170), defensive end Jay Hayes (191), tight end Nic Weishar (213).

New Jersey DB Minkah Fitzpatrick received an offer from Notre Dame, following a visit from Irish defensive coordinator Bob Diaco, pictured. SBT photo/JAMES BROSHER