Michigan commit Tyree Kinnel could see himself at Notre Dame

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

Tyree Kinnel hasn't backed off his commitment to Michigan.

But after an official visit to Notre Dame over the weekend, the four-star safety prospect may have another realistic option.

“I like what they have to offer me,” Kinnel said of Notre Dame. “I could see myself there. I'm not sure what I'll be doing.”

A visit to Notre Dame marked Kinnel’s first action in developing a backup plan. Kinnel and his parents took advantage of his first free weekend following his senior football season at Huber Heights (Ohio) Wayne to travel to South Bend. While showing interesting elsewhere, Kinnel is not quite ready to ditch the Wolverines.

“I'm still committed to Michigan right now. I'm just waiting to see who becomes the new coach there and see how that's going to work out,” Kinnel said. “I'm just trying to find the best fit for me."

As long as Michigan remains in limbo with its search for a head coach, Kinnel is likely to do the same. He likely won't make a final decision before the Wolverines hire a new coach. Kinnel also plans to visit Michigan State on Jan. 16.

Meanwhile, the Notre Dame coaching staff has been laying the groundwork to flip Kinnel. Kinnel, who received an offer from the Irish in September, could fill Notre Dame’s need to land at least one more safety in the 2015 recruiting class.

Defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder and defensive line coach Mike Elston visited Kinnel for an in-home visit last week to express their interest in the talented safety recruit. The 5-foot-11, 183-pound Kinnel is starting to learn how he would fit in Notre Dame’s defense.

“I like their defense,” Kinnel said. “I like how (defensive backs) coach (Kerry) Cooks works. I was in the defensive meetings and everything went well. I could be comfortable playing in that kind of defense."

Rivals ranks Kinnel as the No. 15 safety and No. 211 overall. 247Sports slates him No. 14 at the position.

Kinnel spent two nights on campus to attend the football team’s awards show on Friday night and meet more of the coaches, players and fellow recruits on Saturday. He also attended the Notre Dame men’s basketball game on Saturday night.

"It was a great visit,” Kinnel said. “It left a great impression on me and my family. The people there were nice. The coaching staff was great. I got to hang out with the committed players. It was a good time."

One of Notre Dame’s commits, cornerback Shaun Crawford, can relate to Kinnel. In June, Crawford flipped his commitment from Michigan to Notre Dame. Now Crawford is part of the Irish crew trying to convince Kinnel to join him.

"I know Shaun Crawford pretty well,” Kinnel said. “We've been knowing each other for a while now. At one point, we were both committed to Michigan together and we've built a relationship since then."

In the next two months, Kinnel will decide if he will make the same decision that Crawford settled on and trade in his maize and blue for blue and gold.

“I asked him a lot of questions,” Kinnel said. “He told me a lot of good things this weekend.”

Below are highlights of Kinnel's senior season via Hudl. | 574-235-6214 | Twitter: @TJamesNDI

Michigan commit Tyree Kinnel, a senior safety prospect, is seriously considering Notre Dame following an official visit. (Photo courtesy of Student Sports)