Safety recruit Hunter Dale adds Notre Dame offer

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

The offer came seven months after he hoped, but Notre Dame might not be too late in the recruitment of Hunter Dale.

The senior safety received an offer from the Irish on Wednesday after defensive backs coach Kerry Cooks attended his practice at River Ridge (La.) John Curtis.

“I was hoping to get it the day after signing day,” said Dale, who’s been in touch with Cooks since February. “It's not exciting because I'm focused on the football season right now, but I like the offer because that's one of the schools I've always loved.”

Recruiting takes a back seat during the season at John Curtis. The program, which has won 10 state championships since 2000, practices on Saturdays, which prevents many official visits during its season. It’s an issue that forced senior defensive end Bo Wallace to cancel plans to visit Notre Dame for the Michigan game and reschedule for a later date.

Right now, all Dale is focused on is finishing his high school career with a fourth-straight title. The 5-foot-11, 195-pound prospect recorded 14 tackles, one interception, one sack and three forced fumbles in the first two games of the season. His ability to make plays all over the field makes him an attractive target for the Irish.

Notre Dame’s 2015 recruiting class already holds two safeties — Prentice McKinney and Nicco Fertitta — but the current roster’s depth has already been challenged this season. The recent offer to Dale indicates the Irish likely aren’t finished at the position. Rivals ranks Dale as the No. 20 safety in the 2015 class. 247Sports slates him No. 61 at the position.

Watch highlights of Dale here.

Dale would have preferred an earlier offer, but his recruitment remains wide open after a brief commitment to Nebraska during the summer. The three-star prospect also visited Tennessee, Tulane, Ole Miss and Mississippi State this summer before his season began, and Arkansas and Alabama have started to increase their contact with Dale as of late.

A postseason visit schedule has yet to be solidified, but Notre Dame will likely make the list.

"I'm definitely trying to get up there for a visit, especially with Bo,” Dale said.

Wallace previously visited Notre Dame in June and has been high on the Irish since making the trip. The two will compare notes as the recruiting process moves forward.

“I haven't talked to him about it a lot because I didn't have the offer, but now I'm going to be talking about it with him,” Dale said.

Dale knows what he’s looking for in a college. He has a three-part checklist that will help decide his eventual commitment.

“Somewhere I can get to the next level at and that's obviously the NFL,” Dale said, “somewhere I'm going to get the best coaching at and somewhere I'm going to be driven into manhood and the next stage of my life."

Dale, the godson of former Irish tight end Irv Smith, has talked with former teammate Terrence Alexander, a 2014 cornerback that signed with Stanford, about Notre Dame. He also knows Irish offensive line commit Jerry Tillery, a Shreveport, La., native.

The connections to the program gave Dale a reason to watch Notre Dame play against Michigan earlier this month. Now he’ll have another reason to tune in to the Irish.

“I watched them when they — I don't want to use that word but — slaughtered Michigan,” Dale said.

"I was surprised. It's usually a good game. Usually when you see two top programs go at it, you don't think one team will slaughter the other. When I watched that game, either Michigan is really not good this year or Notre Dame is killing people.”

tjames@ndinsider.com | 574-235-6214 | Twitter: @TJamesNDI

Senior safety prospect Hunter Dale received an offer from Notre Dame on Wednesday. (Photo courtesy of Student Sports)