Notre Dame may use recruiting loophole in SEC country


South Bend Tribune

College football recruiting often lives in the margins of NCAA loopholes.

On Thursday, reports surfaced that Notre Dame might be taking advantage of one of those loopholes with a camp in Georgia in the summer of 2015.

The story, first reported by 247Sports director of recruiting Steve Wiltfong, detailed plans being initiated for Notre Dame’s coaching staff to co-host a camp with Georgia State, an FBS program in Atlanta.

A university spokesman said Notre Dame had no comment on the report Thursday. Georgia State head coach Trent Miles confirmed the report with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Miles said plans on a date have yet to be finalized, but that he’s had conversations with Notre Dame’s staff. If the camp were to come to fruition, it would be considered an aggressive move for the Irish recruiting efforts.

“I talked to Notre Dame, and it was a mutual thing — they thought it was a great idea, and they’ve been recruiting Georgia,” Miles, a Notre Dame assistant coach from 2002-04, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

“It’s great for us getting the exposure and getting some kids on our campus that Notre Dame will bring because of their name. I think it will be great for Notre Dame, because they have a national presence, and I’m very close to those guys.”

So what’s the loophole? By NCAA rules, Notre Dame can’t host a camp in Georgia. Notre Dame’s summer camps, like the “Irish Invasion” camp on June 20, must be in the state of Indiana, or within 50 miles of campus if it crossed into Michigan.

However, Notre Dame’s staff can be used as guest coaches at any school’s NCAA-approved camp. Georgia State is holding a similar camp this summer on June 10, the Trent Miles Football Camp, with Penn State head coach James Franklin and his staff working as guest coaches.

The camp with Franklin drew headlines this week when SEC coaches, such as Georgia’s Mark Richt, voiced frustrations over the camp. That’s in part due to the conference having a rule that prohibits its own coaches from working camps at other schools.

“The rule says that everybody’s camp should be (at) their own institution, so it’s basically people finding a way around that rule,” Richt said Wednesday during SEC spring meetings, according to the Associated Press. “We think the rule was set for a reason, and it ought to stay that way.”

In joining Georgia State for a camp, Notre Dame would be taking advantage of its relationship with Miles, and his proximity to the talent the Irish are trying to connect with in the state. It’s a win for Miles, who can drum up more interest in his camp. An 0-12 team last season in the Sun Belt Conference and a relative FBS newcomer, Georgia State isn’t competing with Notre Dame for the same recruits.

“I’m hearing that the SEC isn’t really happy but I’m worried about us at Georgia State,” Miles told the Journal-Constitution. “I’m only concerned about Georgia State, and I have close ties to Notre Dame. If I can do something to help Notre Dame, I will.”

The concept makes all sorts of sense to Wiltfong. His initial report also suggested Notre Dame could consider camps in talent-rich areas like Dallas and Los Angeles in the future.

“I don’t see why they wouldn’t want to do it,” Wiltfong said. “I think it’s forward thinking by Notre Dame. They’ve realized that if this could become a trend in college football, how can we get involved and how can it benefit us?”

The biggest benefit would be getting in front of recruits that might not have other opportunities to interact with Notre Dame coaches in person.

“Anytime you can get a chance to get around kids you’re recruiting, it’s good,” Wiltfong said. “It’s hard to get a kid up to Notre Dame sometimes if you’re from the southeast or Texas or California.

“These coaches don’t get that much personal time with you in person. Anytime you get that extra personal time and get a chance to work with the young man and they get to see how you work and how you coach, those are all positives that build a relationship.”

Summer camps at colleges attract high school players of varying talent levels. Miles’ camp with Franklin cost $50 for any high school football player. It will likely bring prospects trying to catch the eyes of both Franklin and Miles. Some might leave excited to be instructed by FBS coaches. Others might leave with scholarship offers.

The talent in the state of Georgia is no secret to Notre Dame. Former Irish standouts Stephon Tuitt and TJ Jones were both recent products of recruiting efforts in the Peach State. Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick has even confirmed discussions with Georgia for a future home-and-home series with the Bulldogs. A camp in Georgia would add an interesting wrinkle to that potential matchup.

Latest on Isaac

USC running back transfer Ty Isaac has scheduled visits to Illinois and Michigan, according to an ESPN report.

The sophomore-to-be left USC earlier this month and has been connected to Notre Dame as a possible landing spot. It remains unclear if the Trojans have successfully restricted Isaac from transferring to Notre Dame, a rival and annual opponent.

Isaac, who earned five-star prospect status as a senior at Joliet (Ill.) Catholic, seriously considered the Irish during his recruitment.

The 6-foot-3, 225-pound Isaac rushed 40 times for 236 yards and two touchdowns as a freshman last season.

CB likes Irish

Cornerback target PJ Mbanasor released a top seven on Thursday and the Irish made the list.

Notre Dame joined Florida, LSU, Michigan State, Nebraska, Ohio State and Oklahoma on the list for the 2015 prospect.

A 6-1, 182-pounder from Pflugerville, Texas, Mbanasor previously held a verbal commitment with TCU.

247Sports slates Mbanasor as a four-star prospect, the No. 16 cornerback and No. 154 overall in the class. Rivals ranks him as a four-star prospect, the No. 23 cornerback and No. 232 overall.

Closing time

The spring evaluation comes to a close on Saturday and Notre Dame’s coaching staff will end its nearly two months of travels on the recruiting trail.

The months of June and July are an NCAA quiet period, which restricts in-person recruit contact off campus. Coaches are still allowed to communicate with prospects via the phone and online and can host prospects on campus for visits.

Before the spring evaluation period ended, a few more prospects reported offers from the Irish staff:

•DB Devin Studstill, 6-1, 185, Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.: A 2016 prospect, Studstill reported an offer last week af-ter speaking with recruiting coordinator Tony Alford. Studstill counts the Irish as his third offer after Florida Atlantic and Michigan State. West Virginia offered shortly after Notre Dame.

•DT Chance Hall, 6-4, 290, Roanoke (Va.) Northside: A three-star prospect, Hall reported an offer from Notre Dame on Wednesday. His offer list includes Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Virginia and Virginia Tech. 247Sports slates Hall as the No. 29 defensive tackle prospect in the 2015 class. Rivals ranks him as the No. 33 recruit in Virginia.

•ATH Javarius Davis, 5-10, 173, Jacksonville (Fla.) Ed White: A three-star prospect, Davis reported an offer from Notre Dame on Thursday. His offer list includes Louisville, Maryland, Missouri and Wisconsin. 247Sports slates Davis as the No. 36 running back in the 2015 class. Rivals ranks him as the No. 45 athlete. | 574-235-6214 | Twitter: @TJamesNDI

Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly reportedly could co-host a 2015 summer camp in Atlanta with Georgia State head coach Trent Miles (SBT Photo/SANTIAGO FLORES).