Notre Dame interest in DT recruit Cage grows

NOTEBOOK

TYLER JAMES
South Bend Tribune

Daniel Cage always liked Notre Dame.

It took the Irish a bit longer to figure out they liked him.

The 6-foot-1, 310-pound defensive tackle from Cincinnati became a new target for the Irish when Notre Dame hired defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder.

Sure, the need was increased by defensive lineman Matt Dickerson flipping his commitment from Notre Dame to UCLA, but a change in coaching philosophy also raised the Irish interest in Cage.

“I've always been interested in Notre Dame,” Cage said. “During the football season they told me they didn't really like me, but they ended up changing defensive coordinators. The new coordinator that came from the New York Jets liked me. I've always thought highly of Notre Dame and that's the main reason why I'm going there for a visit.”

With a busy schedule before National Signing Day on Feb. 5, Cage has worked to schedule a rare mid-week visit to South Bend. Cage originally tried to schedule a visit for this Wednesday and Thursday, but the trip has been pushed back until next week.

He visited Louisville last weekend, will visit Michigan State this weekend, and plans to wrap up his official visits at Missouri on Jan. 31.

Irish defensive line coach Mike Elston reached out to Cage earlier this month to extend an offer. The two have worked on building a relationship since.

“I don't know him that well, but I know him enough to know that he's going to keep it real with me,” Cage said.

Cage established himself as a dominant player at Winton Woods High as early as his sophomore season when he recorded 22 sacks. He followed that up with 15 sacks as a junior. Cage said his senior stats were unavailable because of a midseason number switch.

“Daniel Cage is a guy that can really impress you,” said CBS Sports Network recruiting analyst Tom Lemming. “He has as much or more potential as any of the other guys they're going after. He's a solidly built guy with good size. He's a competitive player with a relentless style of play.”

Lemming’s description lines up with the pitch Notre Dame’s been throwing at Cage.

“They said they need big bodies and more speed, and they contacted me because I'm an explosive defensive lineman,” Cage said.

Rivals and 247Sports lists Cage as a three-star prospect.

Time will tell if the late Irish push for Cage will negate the delay in offering.

Watch some highlights of Cage.

DT Griffin eyes visit

Following an in-home visit with Irish defensive line coach Mike Elston on Monday night, defensive tackle Marcus Griffin said he plans to visit Notre Dame this weekend.

The 6-2, 296-pound Griffin, who at one point was committed to Washington State, has yet to receive an offer from the Irish, but was told one should come soon after the staff received his transcripts on Monday night.

Griffin’s stock has risen considerably after his senior season for state-champion Bellevue (Wash.) High. He already has used official visits to Washington State and Cal and plans to use his third to Notre Dame. He also has an official visit to Mississippi State scheduled for Jan. 31.

“He went from a suspect to a big-time prospect this year,” said CBS Sports Network recruiting analyst Tom Lemming.

Rivals ranks Griffin as a four-star prospect and the No. 3 recruit in Washington. 247Sports slates Griffin as a three-star prospect and the No. 54 defensive tackle in the 2014 class.

Watch some highlights of Griffin.

•Another recently offered defensive tackle appears to be headed elsewhere. Trey Lealaimatafao, a 6-0, 301-pound prospect from San Antonio, sent a tweet on Tuesday night that hinted his decision would come down to LSU, Oregon and UCLA.

"A Tiger, Duck, or a Bruin .... February 5 will be the day I answer that question," Lealaimatafao tweeted.

Final Rivals rankings

Rivals released its final rankings of the 2014 class this week with eight Notre Dame commitments making the Rivals250 list.

Offensive lineman Quenton Nelson held onto his five-star rating as the top Irish prospect at No. 29 overall. The seven other ND pledges on the list earned four-star ratings: linebacker Nyles Morgan (72), wide receiver Justin Brent (84), offensive lineman Alex Bars (98), cornerback Nick Watkins (186), offensive lineman Sam Mustipher (203), wide receiver Corey Holmes (224) and defensive end Jay Hayes (233).

After the hiring of new defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder, Notre Dame has now shown an interest in defensive tackle Daniel Cage of Cincinnati. (SBT Photo/JAMES BROSHER)