Four-star DE recruit Xavier Kelly previews Notre Dame visit

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

Xavier Kelly is good at planning visits.

When he signed up to participate in this week’s Sound Mind Sound Body Football Academy camp in Detroit, he knew it would be an opportunity to see a few schools in the Midwest.

So the four-star defensive end prospect scheduled visits to Notre Dame, Michigan and Michigan State to work around the two-day camp starting Thursday.

Kelly will make his first visit of the week to Notre Dame, on Wednesday. He’s hoping to get a better sense of what the Irish have to offer.

“I know they’re high academically and they have a good football program all the time,” Kelly said.

Kelly’s travel itinerary has been loaded since the start of April. He’s made trips to Nebraska, Oklahoma State, Missouri, Georgia, Alabama, Florida State and Clemson in that time. Shortly before that, his recruiting stock made a dramatic increase.

Kelly, a 6-foot-5, 230-pounder, gave his verbal commitment to Kansas State in November following his junior season at Wichita (Kan.) East High. When he withdrew his pledge in March, Kelly started receiving offers from across the country. Notre Dame extended an offer days later. Then came offers from Clemson, Alabama, Arizona State, Georgia and Florida State, among others, in the following month.

The offer count for Kelly has since surpassed 30 schools. College coaches are attracted by a tall, long-armed prospect with the athleticism to, among other things, complete contest-worthy dunks in jeans at a local gym (here and here). Kelly recorded a 40-yard dash of 4.55 seconds and a 30-inch vertical jump at The Opening Regional in Dallas.

247Sports slates Kelly as the No. 6 weakside defensive end nationally and No. 91 overall prospect in the 2016 class. Rivals ranks him as the No. 11 strongside defensive end and No. 150 regardless of position.

New Irish defensive line coach Keith Gilmore has started to build a relationship with Kelly.

“He seems like a good coach,” Kelly said. “He seems like he knows what he’s talking (about). He’s going to be straight-up and honest with you.”

Notre Dame’s need for defensive end recruits couldn’t be any more apparent. The Irish have zero incoming freshmen at the position, after 2015 signee dropped out of the class in May and enrolled at Arizona State. Defensive end Julian Okwara gave his verbal commitment to the Irish in March, but Notre Dame has room for more like him in the 2016 class.

If the Irish are to land Kelly, they will have to wait. Kelly said he plans to narrow his focus to five schools at the end of the summer, make official visits to those schools in the fall and announce a decision at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in January.

The chance at early playing time could be a big part of the recruiting pitch for Notre Dame, but Kelly insists his commitment will go to a school where he feels comfortable.

“That’s always attractive,” Kelly said of Notre Dame’s need for defensive ends, “but wherever is going to be best for me is what matters.”

Below are some of Kelly's highlights via Hudl. | 574-235-6214 | Twitter: @TJamesNDI

Four-star defensive end recruit Xavier Kelly will visit Notre Dame on Wednesday. (Photo courtesy of Rivals)