Notre Dame making late pursuit of DT recruit Garnett

TYLER JAMES
South Bend Tribune

Cyril Crutchfield isn’t shy about his fondness for Notre Dame. The head coach at St. Augustine High in New Orleans started rooting for the Irish as a child.

“As a little boy, that was my team, Notre Dame, the Fighting Irish,” Crutchfield said. “I’m 47 so when we came up the one college team that you always saw every Saturday was Notre Dame. I’m old school. My pro team, the team I saw every week was the Cowboys. Those were my two teams. I know it’s exciting for me.”

The excitement comes from Notre Dame’s new interest in St. Augustine senior defensive tackle Courtney Garnett. The Irish offered the 6-foot-2, 280-pounder on Sunday and are finalizing plans for Garnett to make an official visit to South Bend this weekend.

Notre Dame will need to make a strong impression fast to earn Garnett’s commitment by next Wednesday’s signing day. The defensive tackle’s plan to see the campus on the final weekend of the recruiting cycle is a good start. Crutchfield said the Irish have already made an impact.

“I think the name itself speaks for itself, especially with him coming from one of the most prestigious Catholic schools in high school and talking about Notre Dame which is a very prestigious Catholic school as well,” Crutch-field said. “Any time you have the interest of a Notre Dame, that definitely is an eye-opener. No matter what point in recruiting, Notre Dame sells itself.”

Cornerbacks coach Kerry Cooks, who recruits in Louisiana for the Irish, is scheduled to visit St. Augustine on Thursday to continue the sales pitch. Cooks has familiarity with the program after showing interest in senior Leonard Fournette, the virtually unanimous top-ranked running back in the country, earlier in the process. Fournette verbally committed to LSU earlier this month.

Crutchfield said he hasn’t been able to discuss Notre Dame with Garnett too much because of school cancellations this week. But he plans to do so before and after Cooks arrives on Thursday, as long as the unusually cold weather in Louisiana permits.

But what kind of player are the Irish pursuing in Garnett? A three-star prospect, Garnett ended a six-month verbal commitment to Texas earlier this month. Now Oklahoma has emerged as the front-runner following an official visit on Jan. 17.

CBS Sports Network recruiting analyst Tom Lemming lists a low center of gravity, strength, quick feet and a natural knee bend among Garnett’s attributes.

“He is able to shed blockers easily and make tackles while on the run,” Lemming wrote of Garnett in annual Prep Football Report. “He is competitive and has consistently shown a willingness to hustle and chase ball carriers to the end. He also shows the natural strength to knock offensive linemen backwards and a quick burst to apply pressure on the QB. He has proven to be a brick wall against the run.”

247Sports slates Garnett as the No. 61 defensive tackle in the 2014 class and the 37th-best prospect in the state of Louisiana this year.

The Irish have worked to secure at least one more defensive tackle recruit to close out the class. The way Crutchfield describes Garnett, the Irish may have found a match in Garnett if he can be convinced to join.

“He has a big body with good get-off,” Crutchfield said. “He’s a solid run stopper He’s a two-gapper that’s going to control the middle. He has a motor that doesn’t stop. He’s a young man with great work ethic and would definitely be a good addition to whichever school he chooses.”

Watch highlights of Garnett.

ESPN reshuffles past rankings

Almost all recruiting rankings are projections of the future. This week, ESPN took a shot at re-ranking recruits after their college careers can already be judged.

The rankings, called the Ultimate 300, reshuffled all the prospects ESPN has evaluated starting with the 2006 recruiting class. The list accounted for high school projections and college production.

Thirteen Notre Dame recruits, including some that did not finish their careers with the Irish, made the list. Linebacker Manti Te’o earned the highest ranking at No. 7 overall.

The following Notre Dame recruits also made the list: wide receiver Golden Tate (41), wide receiver Michael Floyd (54), defensive tackle Louis Nix (62), tight end Tyler Eifert (101), linebacker Jaylon Smith (111), defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes (115), offensive tackle Sam Young (122), wide receiver Shaq Evans (245), running back Tarean Folston (254), defensive end Stephon Tuitt (255), quarterback Jimmy Clausen (265) and tight end Kyle Rudolph (277).

Notre Dame cornerbacks coach Kerry Cooks is scheduled to visit senior defensive tackle target Courtney Garnett on Thursday. (SBT photo/JAMES BROSHER)