Notre Dame coaxes visit from top CB Crawford

TYLER JAMES
South Bend Tribune

Shaun Crawford remains verbally committed to Michigan, but Notre Dame will host the 2015 defensive back prospect Sunday.

In reports to ESPN and BuckeyeGrove.com, a Rivals website, Crawford’s father confirmed plans of the visit to Notre Dame this weekend and Ohio State on May 31.

The visits could be another sign of Michigan’s 2015 recruiting class crumbling from its early start. The Irish would gladly pick up the pieces.

The 5-foot-9, 175-pound Crawford visited the Irish last summer without an offer and committed to Michigan a month later. The Irish eventually offered in February and have continued to work to get Crawford back on campus.

Hosting Crawford for a visit is a sizable victory for the Irish. Flipping his commitment to Notre Dame would rattle Michigan’s recruiting class once again.

“He’s outstanding,” said CBS Sports Network recruiting analyst Tom Lemming. “He’s one of the premier cornerbacks around. It would be a major blow to Michigan who has already taken a few hits this year.”

The Wolverines lost commitments from wide receiver George Campbell and running back Damien Harris, both five-star recruits, early in the 2015 cycle. Crawford stands as one of Michigan’s top remaining commitments.

A four-star prospect, Crawford played both ways as a junior for St. Edward in Lakewood, Ohio. He rushed for 815 yards and eight touchdowns and tallied 64 tackles and two interceptions. Rivals ranks Crawford as the No. 11 cornerback in the 2015 class and No. 106 overall. 247Sports slates him as the No. 14 cornerback and No. 150 overall.

The Irish remain in the cornerback market with no players committed at the position in the 2015 class. Crawford could fill the spot capably.

“He’s a terrific cover corner,” Lemming said. “He has the potential to be a first-round draft pick. He’s that good.”

Watch Crawford's highlights here.

In Kelly’s image

Notre Dame made a splash last recruiting cycle with its “Pot of Gold” mailing scheme that filled the mailboxes of top recruits with an exorbitant amount of mail.

Each piece of mail represented one of Notre Dame’s 477 NFL Draft selections. It was a creative way to send a simple message. Head coach Brian Kelly said he sees a continued need for creative efforts in visual presentations to recruits.

“Graphic arts, if you’re not at the front end of that right now in recruiting, you’re about three steps behind everybody,” Kelly said recently at the Irish Legends golf outing at Olympia Fields (Ill.) Country Club. “Recruiting offices now are not put-ting on additional personnel to write notes; they’re putting on additional graphic arts designers.”

Some schools will use mock covers of magazines to show the spotlight that will come with playing for their program. Georgia started sending out hand-drawn portraits of the recruits. Recently, the Irish sent a piece of mail to quarterback commit Blake Barnett that pictured him alongside Notre Dame’s seven Heisman Trophy winners.

The goal is to grab the recruit’s attention. Teams struggling on the field may have to try harder than others. Kelly wants to make sure the Irish don’t fall behind.

“There’s one school that is doing really well in recruiting that came out of nowhere, and they are doing it through graphic arts,” Kelly said. “We don’t need to do that. We don’t need to have six graphic art designers full-time in recruiting. We’ve got way more things going for us in other areas that we can tell our story. We maybe need one guy.”

Former recruiting staffer J.R. Sandlin, who left the Irish this spring to coach at Jacksonville State less than a year after arriving at Notre Dame, played a role in moving the Irish forward with stronger presences in graphic arts and social media. Kelly said his position has been filled by outsourcing, but that the Irish are looking to make a hire soon.

Thomas Top 5

The Irish find themselves in the running, along with four SEC powerhouses, in the chase for 2015 linebacker Adonis Thomas.

Thomas, a 6-4, 215-pound junior at Central Gwinnett in Lawrenceville, Ga., named a top five Friday of Alabama, LSU, Florida, Notre Dame and Georgia. 247Sports slates Thomas as the No. 11 outside linebacker prospect in the class and No. 175 overall. Rivals ranks him as the No. 12 outside linebacker and No. 225 overall.

Central Gwinnett head coach Todd Wofford coached former Irish wide receiver T.J. Jones at Gainesville. Jones met with Wofford’s latest four-star prospect last month.

Watch highlights of Thomas here.

Another Irish recruiting target from the Peach State committed elsewhere on Friday. Natrez Patrick, a four-star linebacker/defensive end, verbally committed to Georgia.

Staff writer Eric Hansen contributed to this report.

Tyler James: 574-235-6214

Twitter: @TJamesNDI

Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly discusses the start of the spring football practice sessions Friday at Guglielmino Athletics Complex on the campus. SBT Photo/GREG SWIERCZ