Notebook: LB recruit Jeffery McCulloch making Irish wait

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

A decision from Jeffrey McCulloch is on hold.

The four-star linebacker recruit pursued by Notre Dame had considered making his announcement during the Under Armour All-America Game on Saturday, but he isn’t ready to make a commitment.

McCulloch revealed Sunday on Twitter that his final decision won’t come until signing day on Feb. 3.

The delay in his decision could allow other schools to make a late push against Notre Dame. It could also allow McCulloch to make another visit to South Bend.

His January schedule has already started to be filled. McCulloch tweeted Monday that he plans to make official visits to Texas (Jan. 15) and Alabama (Jan. 22).

The 6-foot-2, 230-pound prospect from Houston made an official visit to Notre Dame in October for the USC game. Five recruits have committed to the Irish after visiting that weekend.

McCulloch named a top five of Notre Dame, Stanford, Texas, Texas A&M and Florida earlier this month. In addition to Notre Dame, McCulloch also has made official visits to Stanford and Michigan.

Rivals ranks McCulloch, a senior at Aldine Davis High School, as the No. 4 inside linebacker in the 2016 class. 247Sports slates him as the No. 8 outside linebacker.

McCulloch will be joined in Florida for the Under Armour All-America Game by Notre Dame offensive line commit Liam Eichenberg and Irish targets Ben Davis and Brandon Burton. Davis, a five-star linebacker according to Rivals, has expressed plans to visit Notre Dame in January. Burton, an athlete who could play wide receiver or safety, also visited for Notre Dame’s victory over USC.

He plans to make an announcement during Saturday’s game, but the Irish aren’t expected to be the choice. The four-star athlete also made official visits to Florida State, Oklahoma and Ohio State.

The Under Armour All-America Game will be televised live Saturday on ESPN2 at noon EST.

Betiku to USC

The dream defensive end recruit for Notre Dame turned into a nightmare on Christmas.

Oluwole Betiku, a five-star prospect according to 247Sports, gave his verbal commitment to USC on Friday. The Irish hosted Betiku for an official visit in November, but it wasn’t enough to pull him out of California.

The 6-4, 245-pound senior attends Gardena Junipero Serra, a traditional USC pipeline school. But the possibility that Betiku would buck the USC trend seemed strong because of his background as a Nigerian native who has only lived in the Golden State for two years.

Betiku had expressed that he wouldn’t be afraid of attending college in any part of the country. Multiple visits to Texas A&M and official visits to Florida State and Notre Dame supported that notion.

But Betiku chose to stay close to his current home at USC. He had previously committed to UCLA from August to October.

247Sports pegs Betiku as the No. 1 weakside defensive end and the No. 6 prospect overall in the 2016 class. Rivals rates him as a four-star recruit, the No. 3 strongside defensive end and No. 40 overall.

Betiku plans to enroll early at USC. He likely would have been able to play as a freshman at Notre Dame. Instead the Irish will have to go against him for the next few years.

Three for Hamlin

On the same day that cornerback Troy Pride Jr. announced his verbal commitment to Notre Dame, cornerback target Damar Hamlin left the Irish off his top list.

Hamlin, a four-star recruit, listed his top three schools as Penn State, Pittsburgh and Ohio State on Twitter. Notre Dame’s need for another cornerback has been lessened by the three commitments — Pride, Donte Vaughn and Julian Love — at the position, but the Irish had made Hamlin a priority. Safety commits Devin Studstill and Jalen Elliott could also play cornerback.

Five Notre Dame coaches – Brian Kelly, Mike Elston, Todd Lyght, Scott Booker and Keith Gilmore — attended Hamlin’s game in Pittsburgh the night before the Irish took on the Panthers in November.

Lyght, Booker and defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder also visited Hamlin earlier this month during the contact period.

247Sports slates the 6-1, 180-pound Hamlin as the No. 19 cornerback in the 2016 class. Rivals ranks him as the No. 6 safety.

Irish ranking

Notre Dame’s 2016 recruiting class, which consists of 21 commitments, has received high grades from recruiting analysts.

Rivals gives Notre Dame its highest standing at No. 4 in the country behind Ole Miss, Michigan and Ohio State.

247Sports slates the Irish class at No. 11. Scout ranks Notre Dame at No. 7. ESPN pegs Notre Dame at No. 13.

The 2016 class could finish with three or four more commitments to solidify a consensus top 10 ranking for the Irish.

Notre Dame’s 2015 class finished ranked as high as No. 6 (Scout) and as low as No. 13 (ESPN and 247Sports).

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

Linebacker recruit Jeffrey McCulloch stands on the sideline before Notre Dame's 41-31 win over USC on Saturday, Oct. 17, 2015. (SBT Photo/JARED HAMSHER)