Notre Dame hitting the right notes with DB target Lamar Jackson

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

A recruiting pitch can be a little like music. A school has to find the right tone that resonates with recruits.

In the case of defensive back Lamar Jackson, Notre Dame offensive coordinator Mike Sanford seems to be hitting all the right notes.

“I just know they need DBs a lot,” Jackson said. “They’ve been stressing the fact that I can come in and play. Why wait? Come in and compete and the opportunity is going to be there for you as long as you come in healthy. That’s always music to my ears.”

Sanford is still in the early months of his position at Notre Dame, but recruiting California is old hat. He spent three seasons as an assistant coach at Stanford and two as its recruiting coordinator. Jackson has been one of the first California recruits to feel his presence at Notre Dame.

“Coach Sanford has been pushing hard,” Jackson said. “Notre Dame has a great education and a great tradition out there with the program.”

Jackson, a 6-foot-3, 209-pound rising senior, has played a number of positions in high school. Last season, Jackson spent time at quarterback, running back, wide receiver and cornerback at Elk Grove (Calif.) Franklin. The four-star recruit likely will end up as a defensive back in college.

Notre Dame’s current recruiting class contains one cornerback, Julian Love, and a pair of safeties, Jalen Elliott and Spencer Perry. The Irish could finish out the secondary with another player at each position.

Rivals ranks Jackson as the No. 6 safety and No. 81 regardless of position in the 2016 class. 247Sports slates him as fifth in the athlete category and No. 107 overall.

“I want to probably stay in the secondary,” Jackson said. “Free safety or maybe corner. I feel like I ball better out there.”

That’s despite Jackson showing his athleticism mostly on offense for the Wildcats as junior. He rushed for 577 yards and nine touchdowns, threw three touchdown passes and caught one. He added a pair of interceptions on defense.

Jackson wants to keep his options open in terms of his position but also with his recruitment. Jackson mentioned Notre Dame, USC, UCLA, Oregon, Washington and Michigan as some of his top schools but said he isn’t quite ready to eliminate other schools. He plans to do so soon while making a schedule for visits. Notre Dame should host Jackson at some point. His recruitment could last all the way to February's signing day.

“The biggest thing is just making the decision and making sure you don’t cut out the wrong schools,” Jackson said. “It’s in the back of your head like I don’t want to have that feeling that I should have went there or something like that. That’s why I’m going to take it until it feels right.”

Notre Dame will learn if it’s a legitimate contender for Jackson when he makes a trip to South Bend. Visits will help Jackson settle on a final decision.

“Once I get on campus, I’ll see if I get blown away,” Jackson said. “I know all my offers are great schools. They all have great football programs. It’s just a matter of getting on campus and getting a feel for people. I’ll try to put myself in their shoes to see if I can be a part of that team.”

Below are Jackson's junior highlights via Hudl.

tjames@ndinsider.com | 574-235-6214 | Twitter: @TJamesNDI

Four-star defensive back Lamar Jackson wants to visit Notre Dame. (Photo courtesy of Student Sports)