Safety Prentice McKinney exits Notre Dame recruiting class for UNC

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

Prentice McKinney’s future as a Notre Dame football recruit has long been uncertain. He ended the speculation on Wednesday night with a commitment switch. Now the senior safety prospect plans to sign with North Carolina on Feb. 4.

“I’ve officially decided to flip my commitment to The University of North Carolina Tar Heels,” McKinney tweeted on this Twitter account.

The 6-foot-2, 180-pound McKinney, who had been verbally committed to the Irish since March 2014, made an official visit to North Carolina over the weekend. His status with Notre Dame came into question when 247Sports indicated academic hurdles could prevent him from signing with the Irish. McKinney did not return messages left on his cell phone Wednesday night.

The loss of McKinney leaves Notre Dame with two safeties in the 2015 recruiting class: Nicco Fertitta and Mykelti Williams. The Irish coaching staff has been working to add another safety to the class over the last few months. California safety Nate Meadors visited Notre Dame last weekend, and Louisiana safety Justin Reid is scheduled for an official visit this coming weekend. Both are three-star prospects.

Four-star safety Frank Buncom IV, who visited Notre Dame in October, is set to announce his commitment Jan. 28. Stanford appears to be the front-runner for the San Diego native, with Notre Dame, Vanderbilt and California trailing.

McKinney, from Dallas South Oak Cliff High School, played in the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl earlier this month. Rivals rates McKinney as a four-star recruit and the No. 18 safety in the 2015 class. 247Sports slates him as a three-star prospect and No. 31 at the position.

Notre Dame’s 2015 recruiting class currently consists of 22 recruits, 18 verbal commitments and four freshmen who enrolled in January. The class sits at No. 9 in the country according 247Sports. Before the loss of McKinney, Rivals rated Notre Dame’s class at No. 8 nationally.

Dallas South Oak Cliff safety Prentice McKinney, right, flipped his commitment from Notre Dame to North Carolina on Wednesday. (Photo courtesy of Dallas Morning News/Louis DeLuca)