Notebook: Jennings could fill Notre Dame recruiting need at safety

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

One thing was made abundantly clear to Gary Jennings on his visit to Notre Dame: the Irish need safeties.

The 6-foot-2, 205-pound prospect is being recruited at a number of positions by several schools. With the current state of Notre Dame’s roster and 2015 recruiting class, the Irish would give Jennings a shot at safety.

"They're classifying me as an athlete, but they said they're in dire need of safeties right now,” Jennings said. “So that's where they would like to see me at.”

Jennings, who received an offer from the Irish in late September, took his first look at Notre Dame over the weekend. 247Sports slates Jennings as the No. 120 wide receiver in the 2015 class. Rivals ranks him No. 25 overall in Virginia.

“I didn't really know what to expect coming in actually, but I was very impressed by the overall atmosphere,” Jennings said.

Jennings arrived in South Bend on Friday and left Sunday morning. The three-star recruit was able to attend the awards show on Friday night and watch the Irish practice. Jennings also spent time getting to know some of the 13 Notre Dame commits also on campus while taking part in a photo shoot in Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday.

“They're definitely a great group of guys,” Jennings said. “It was good to talk with them about various topics and recruiting in general."

The product of Stafford (Va.) Colonial Forge High School doesn’t plan to make a commitment decision until after completing all his visits. Jennings plans to visit West Virginia and Virginia in January. His trip to Notre Dame will keep the Irish in the conversation as long as they have room.

"It was a great overall feel,” Jennings said, “and I plan to keep up with them.”

Jones decommits

Senior running back Ronald Jones arrived on his official visit to Notre Dame this weekend as an Oklahoma State commitment. Hours after his visit ended, Jones withdrew his commitment from the Cowboys.

“To my OSU fam, I'd like to thank you all for supporting and believing in me,” Jones tweeted Sunday. “However, I have decided to open up my recruitment.”

The four-star running back visited Notre Dame a week after visiting USC. Both programs are considered the top contenders to land Jones.

Earlier on Sunday, Jones sent a simple message about his visit to South Bend.

“Enjoyed it! Thank you Notre Dame,” Jones tweeted.

The 5-10, 185-pound Jones rushed for 2,009 yards and 28 touchdowns as a senior at McKinney (Texas) North. Rivals ranks Jones as the No. 9 running back recruit and No. 79 regardless of position. 247Sports slates him No. 19 at the position and No. 203 overall.

The Irish also offered a new 2015 running back on Sunday. Four-star recruit Ke’Shawn Vaughn reported on Twitter an offer from Notre Dame.

Vaughn, a 5-10, 210-pound prospect, rushed for 2,664 yards and 41 touchdowns as a senior at Pearl-Cohn High School in Nashville, Tenn. 247Sports slates Vaughn as the No. 21 running back in the 2015 class. Rivals ranks him No. 31 at the position.

Cager scratched

Wide receiver Lawrence Cager did not make his planned official visit to Notre Dame this past weekend. Cager, a four-star recruit, confirmed with the Tribune on Friday that he would no longer be making the visit. When asked for a reason, Cager did not respond.

247Sports slates the 6-5, 207-pound Cager as the No. 17 wide receiver and No. 160 overall. Rivals ranks him No. 36 at the position.

Cager’s suddenly canceled visit — which was still scheduled as recently as Thursday morning — could be in connection to rumors that the Irish recently added a silent commitment. CBS Sports Network recruiting analyst Tom Lemming tweeted on Sunday that Notre Dame may have added a commitment from “a player who would like to make his announcement in an all-star game.”

A silent commitment is a recruiting industry term for a committed player who is not ready to publicize his commitment. A number of recruits will formally announce their commitments at the annual All-American games in early January.

Coney visits Miami

With Florida naming Jim McElwain as its new head coach, most recruiting experts are watching to see if Notre Dame linebacker commit Te’von Coney reconsiders the Gators.

But on the last visit weekend of December, Coney made an official visit to a different Florida school. Coney, who is set to enroll at Notre Dame in January, visited Miami over the weekend.

Florida and Miami were both in the top three for Coney, a four-star linebacker from Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., when he verbally committed to Notre Dame in October. After the visit, Coney reaffirmed his pledge to the Irish by tweeting Sunday that he is “fully committed to ND.”

Guyton keeps rolling

The last of Notre Dame’s 22 commits still playing this season, wide receiver Jalen Guyton, notched another win to advance to the Texas state finals. Guyton’s Allen team scored 28 unanswered points to complete a 52-34 comeback victory.

Guyton scored the first touchdown of the game, a 10-yard reception, and finished with four catches for 44 yards. Allen (15-0) has won 42 games in a row. The Eagles will take on Cypress Ranch (13-2) Saturday in the UIL Class 6-A Division I state championship. Guyton would become the seventh Irish commit to win a state title this season. | 574-235-6214 | Twitter: @TJamesNDI

Notre Dame defensive backs coach Kerry Cooks is looking to add at least one more safety in the 2015 recruiting class. (SBT Photo/ROBERT FRANKLIN)