Irish offer puts Notre Dame on radar of 2016 CB recruit Eric Cuffee

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

The prospect of leaving Waco, Texas, for South Bend, Ind., didn’t even exist on Eric Cuffee’s radar in February.

Cuffee didn’t think of Notre Dame as a destination for many football recruits in Texas.

"I haven't really heard of anybody going to Notre Dame from Texas,” Cuffee said, “but I wouldn't be surprised.”

That changed last week. Cuffee, a junior cornerback prospect, spoke with a trio of Notre Dame coaches and received a scholarship offer.

“It was exciting,” Cuffee said. “It was crazy that an elite school like that would offer me. It's a really good school."

And one with eight Texans on the 2015 roster,

His education on all things Irish started in conversations with new offensive coordinator Mike Sanford, defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder and defensive backs coach Todd Lyght. He’s started doing his own research since then.

“I've been looking up their past, and it looks really good,” Cuffee said. “They have high-quality football with a history of sending people to the league while getting a good education. All of the stuff combined into one makes it a great place.”

Sanford and Lyght will head Notre Dame’s recruiting efforts in the Lone Star State. Former Irish defensive backs coach Kerry Cooks had established himself as a consistent recruiter in the state before leaving in February to join Oklahoma’s staff. He helped Notre Dame sign 10 recruits from Texas in the last five classes.

The upcoming two-game series with the University of Texas gives Notre Dame a chance to increase its relevancy with recruits in the state.

“That will help them a lot,” Cuffee said. “Playing in Texas against Texas would be big.”

The Longhorns are also one of the other programs in pursuit of Cuffee. The three-star recruit already claims offers from nearly 20 schools, including Oklahoma, TCU, Stanford and Michigan. Rivals ranks Cuffee as the No. 29 cornerback in the 2016 class. 247Sports slates him No. 52 at the position.

Lyght spent much of his conversation with Cuffee discussing his past as a star cornerback at Notre Dame and in the NFL. Lyght’s story can serve as an easy conversation starter for him on the recruiting trail.

“He talked to me about his past, how long he played in the NFL, how much he knows about the game,” Cuffee said. “It's impressive.”

The 6-foot, 190-pound Cuffee, who classified his interest in Notre Dame as high, remains wide open with his recruitment. He said he isn’t ruling out any of his offers as possibilities.

"I really haven't sat down and looked at all of them yet,” Cuffee said. “I'm just taking my time going through the process and just listening to all these schools.”

Coming off a trip to Texas A&M last weekend, Cuffee hopes to stay busy with visits throughout the spring and summer. He has Alabama scheduled for April and is also working on trips to Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Oklahoma.

"I'm looking for a family-type environment,” Cuffee said. “I really haven't set a date on when I'll make my decision. It will all take its place.”

Below are Cuffee's junior highlights via Hudl.

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Junior cornerback Eric Cuffee received a Notre Dame offer on March 5. (Photo courtesy of Student Sports)