Love, Shannon commitments give ND recruiting momentum

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

Julian Love and John Shannon had to wait until Saturday to receive scholarship offers to play football at Notre Dame.

They didn’t wait long, however, to offer their verbal commitments to the Irish. Both gave their pledges to the ND coaching staff on campus Saturday during unofficial visits.

Love, a cornerback, and Shannon, a long snapper, took part in Notre Dame’s junior day event which brought more than 20 highly touted recruits to campus. With their commitments, the two joined offensive lineman Tommy Kraemer of Cincinnati in Notre Dame’s 2016 recruiting class.

It will stand as the day Notre Dame sparked serious momentum for the first time in the 2016 recruiting cycle, making progress with some elite prospects beyond the two commitments. The Irish will hope to land commitments from more of Saturday’s visitors in the coming months.

“It’s great to be Irish any day,” Love said.

Love, a three-star prospect from La Grange, Ill., previously visited Notre Dame in February and was waiting patiently for an offer. He came into Saturday’s visit with a plan to commit on the spot if head coach Brian Kelly offered him.

He later shared the news on Twitter and called Notre Dame his dream school.

“I was sitting there with my parents, and we had already talked about it, so I committed right there,” Love said. “Notre Dame has been my No. 1 for a long, long time. I'm happy I could make this happen."

Love did plenty to gain attention in his junior season at Nazareth Academy in La Grange. The 5-foot-11, 175 pounder rushed for 749 yards and 11 touchdowns and caught 20 passes for 547 yards and eight touchdowns. On defense, he returned three interceptions for touchdowns.

Rivals pegs Love as the No. 30 cornerback in the 2016 class. 247Sports slates him 51st at the position.

“He has great feet,” said CBS Sports Network recruiting analyst Tom Lemming. “He can turn and run. He’s one of the best cover corners in the Midwest.”

For Shannon, the decision to commit to Notre Dame was a decision to follow his family’s path. His father, Gerard, and grandfather, Dan, both spent time as Notre Dame football players. In 1954, his grandfather earned All-America honors as a tight end and co-captain of the Irish.

When Kelly extended the youngest Shannon an offer on Saturday, the Wilmette, Ill., product took less than a minute to respond with his wish to commit.

“The fact that my dad and my grandpa both played there, that was definitely a big factor,” Shannon said. “I’ve grown up going to games down there. The school just means so much to my family. It was a no-brainer for me.”

The 6-foot-2, 225-pound prospect has worked with nationally renowned snapping coach Chris Rubio of Rubio Long Snapping for more than two years. Rubio, who holds camps across the country every year, ranks Shannon as the top long snapper in the 2016 class.

“He snaps the ball probably in the top five of kids I've ever seen in terms of speed,” Rubio said. “You want the ball at about .75 (seconds) at 15 yards, and his can easily be in the low .6s maybe even high .5s. He rips the ball back to the punter. He's an athlete. He moves well on his feet.”

Notre Dame senior-to-be Scott Daly, the most recent scholarship long snapper to sign with the Irish, has two seasons of eligibility remaining. Daly also trained with Rubio.

FBS programs are putting long snappers on scholarship more frequently than in the past, Rubio said.

"It's becoming more and more common, because they want to be able to lock down someone,” he said. “At Notre Dame, they got my No. 1 long snapper when they got Scott Daly. They wanted to get my No. 1 again, so why wouldn't they offer him? They don't want to worry about it, so it's smart."

Shannon, who attends Loyola Academy in Wilmette, knew an offer was a possibility entering Saturday, but that didn’t lessen the excitement.

“I had an idea that they were looking for a scholarship snapper, but I’m just so honored that they chose me today,” Shannon said.

2017 offers

The Irish added new recruiting targets in the 2017 class during their visits Saturday. Defensive end Corey Malone-Hatcher and tight end Brock Wright both reported offers.

Notre Dame became scholarship offer No. 10 for Malone-Hatcher of St. Joseph, Mich. The Irish joined Michigan, Ohio State, Michigan State, Penn State, Tennessee, Louisville, Mississippi State, Kentucky and Iowa in the pursuit for Malone-Hatcher.

The 6-3, 235-pound Malone-Hatcher has been a frequent visitor at Notre Dame. He attended multiple games last season and visited for the Irish Invasion camp last summer. 247Sports slates Malone-Hatcher as a four-star prospect and the No. 4 weakside defensive end in the 2017 class.

Notre Dame became offer No. 2 for Wright. The 6-4, 230-pound tight end from Cypress, Texas, also claims an offer from Texas A&M.

Holyfield visits

Boxing legend Evander Holyfield accompanied his son, Elijah, on his visit to Notre Dame on Saturday.

The presence of the former five-time heavyweight champion created extra buzz on a big day for the Irish. Multiple recruits on campus tweeted about seeing Holyfield and some posed for pictures with him.

The younger Holyfield is one of Notre Dame’s top running back targets in the 2016 class. The four-star recruit rushed for 1,735 yards and 25 touchdowns in his junior season at Woodward Academy near Atlanta. Rivals ranks the 5-11, 200-pound Holyfield as the No. 5 running back in the country. 247Sports slates him No. 9 at the position.

The Irish have had success recruiting the sons of former professional athletes in recent years with George and Josh Atkinson, Austin Collinsworth, Corey Robinson and Torii Hunter Jr. | 574-235-6214 | Twitter: @TJamesNDI

Cornerback recruit Julian Love committed to Notre Dame on Saturday, March 21. (Photo courtesy of Chicago Tribune/John J. Kim)
Notre Dame commit John Shannon earned a spot in the Army All-American Bowl as a long snapper. (Photo courtesy of Rubio Long Snapping)