Notre Dame football recruiting: Wait almost over for WR Brent

BOB WIENEKE
South Bend Tribune

A fancy workout area, it is not. An effective workout area, however, it most certainly is.

In the background of an Instagram video posted by Justin Brent is a washing machine. Hanging up nearby is a dustpan. There’s a metal folding chair, a laundry basket and a shelf with various bottles of what one would assume to be detergents.

If it’s cardio machines with individualized TV sets, clean towels at every work station or bowls of fresh fruit you’re looking for, you won’t find it in the basement of a friend’s place where Brent, a soon-to-be Notre Dame wide receiver, works out.

“We call it the dungeon,” Brent said. “He has everything down there, everything you need to get stronger. It’s not about something pretty. It’s just being away from everybody. Sometimes you don’t want to go to a gym where there’s 20 other people in there. You just kind of want to be by yourself where nobody’s watching.”

Soon, however, there will be a lot of eyes on Brent. The wide receiver from Speedway, Ind., planned to move in to Notre Dame’s St. Edward’s Hall on Sunday and start classes Tuesday. It’s then that he begins the heavy lifting on his college football career.

Brent enters a position group at which there is a number of returning players expected in 2014. The wide receiving corps took a hit on Thursday when top returning DaVaris Daniels announced that he will miss the spring semester because of academics, but he said he plans to be back for next season.

Junior Chris Brown, who caught five passes in the Dec. 28 Pinstripe Bowl victory over Rutgers, figures to take on a more expanded role.

There were a handful of young players who gained valuable experience this season — Corey Robinson, Will Fuller, James Onwualu and converted defensive back C.J. Prosise among them. Add to it Torii Hunter Jr., who sat out his freshman season because he was recovering from a broken leg, and there is a number of viable options to replace the graduated TJ Jones, ND's top receiver last fall.

Also include Brent in the group.

“He’s going to walk in ready to play,” said 247Sports.com national recruiting writer Steve Wiltfong. “I think Notre Dame has a lot of guys at the receiver position that can contribute next year ... but I think Justin Brent’s going to come in and challenge right away.”

The early enrollment certainly will help. The 6-foot-1, 195-pound Brent is one of two early enrollees in the 2014 recruiting class — defensive end Andrew Trumbetti is the other and will room with Brent.

“We kind of know a little bit about each other,” Brent said. “I’m sure we’ll learn a lot more.”

What Brent also plans to learn a lot more about is Notre Dame’s playbook. Having a chance to go through spring practice was a big reason he decided to enroll in January, but not the only one. The first factor he talked about was getting a jump academically, already discussing the ability to work toward his Master’s by accumulating early credits.

Still, it’s the academic side of football that will occupy a good chunk of time.

“They talk about when you first get there it’s hard to learn the playbook, that’s why some guys don’t get in there even though they’re talented. They just don’t get a chance to play because it’s hard to learn the playbook,” Brent said.

“Well, if I get in there early, I’ll get a chance to learn that playbook and I’ll get a chance to try to go in there and compete for a job and contribute.”

His early prep work in the weight room should also help. The black-and-white video of him lifting shows him straining to lift, but in the three clips, he always gets the job done. Last week, Brent was up to 360 pounds on the bench press, 460 on the squat and 500 on the dead lift.

That was only part of his day. After that, he’d work on route running, and later at night would run a mile around a park, even in last week’s frigid temperatures.

“It’s hectic,” he said. “It gets tiring sometimes, but it’s paying off.”

Because he committed so long ago — he pledged the Irish prior to his junior year — Brent was itching to get to South Bend. A year and a half after making his decision, Brent was ready to move to the next phase of his life.

“I’ve been committed for so long, it’s sorta like it’s about time,” Brent said. “So I’m kinda ready to get this thing started.”

Thoughts on Trumbetti

Trumbetti has also been a longtime commit to the class, and because of that, Wiltfong believes the 6-4, 250-pounder may be a little overlooked.

“Once you’re in the boat, people look on to the next guy,” Wiltfong said. “He’s a guy that ... I wonder if the average Notre Dame fan realizes how good he is.”

Wiltfong has his thoughts on how good Trumbetti is.

“This kid’s got tremendous potential, NFL potential,” Wiltfong said. “Just a dominant football player with great size.”

Kizer's roll

CBS Sports recruiting analyst Tom Lemming recently updated his All-America list, and a number of ND commits dot his top 100.

They include tight end Tyler Luatua (38), quarterback DeShone Kizer (40), offensive lineman Quenton Nelson (50), inside linebacker Nyles Morgan (54) and offensive lineman Alex Bars (99).

One of the top risers in the class, according to Lemming, was Kizer.

"The No. 1 signal caller in the state of Ohio is not yet a finished product, but boy did he improve his game during the 2013 season, showing a quick release and even quicker feet," Lemming wrote. "His mobility is outstanding, he shows the arm strength to throw the deep-out with authority, and he's considered to be the most talented high school QB that Toledo has ever produced."

During Kizer's three-year career, he led Toledo Central Catholic to a 34-6 mark. In 2013, Kizer completed 150 of 245 passes for 2,847 yards and 30 TDs, with six interceptions. Kizer ran 62 times for 530 yards and six touchdowns, and also averaged 41.2 yards punting.

Notre Dame recruit Justin Brent walks off the field following the game between Notre Dame and Michigan State on Saturday, September 21, 2013, at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend. (SBT Photo/ROBERT FRANKLIN)