Four-star DE Robert Beal drops Notre Dame commitment

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

Notre Dame finished the entire 2016 recruiting cycle without losing a commitment. That streak has ended in the 2017 class.

Defensive end Robert Beal withdrew his verbal commitment to Notre Dame on Thursday. He confirmed the news with ND Insider in a text message but declined to comment on why he made the decision.

Beal, who visited Georgia Tech last weekend and will take a trip to Florida State this weekend, was the star of Notre Dame’s 2017 class to date. The 6-foot-3, 220-pound junior from Norcross, Ga., originally picked the Irish in November over offers from Alabama, Clemson, Florida State, Ohio State and Georgia, among others.

“He’s arguably the best pass rusher in the country,” said 247Sports director of recruiting Steve Wiltfong. “He’s a difference maker. After quarterback, it may be the most important position in football. It’s a blow. It would be a blow for anyone.”

Both 247Sports and Rivals peg Beal as a four-star recruit and the No. 2 weakside defensive end in the 2017 class. 247Sports slates him as the No. 16 prospect in the class regardless of position. Rivals ranks him No. 51 overall.

“This one’s a blow for Notre Dame because he absolutely is what Notre Dame doesn’t have right now,” Wiltfong said.

Notre Dame landed a pair of four-star defensive end recruits in the 2016 class — Khalid Kareem and Julian Okwara — along with three-star prospect Adetokunbo Ogundeji, but Beal is widely considered the best of that group.

The Irish still have four verbally committed recruits in the 2017 class: offensive linemen Josh Lugg and Dillan Gibbons and tight ends Brock Wright and Cole Kmet.

“This is the culture of recruiting now. It’s hard to keep kid,” Wiltfong said. “When a guy commits early from several states away, especially when he lives in Georgia or that part of the country where there are so many powerhouse programs within driving distance, it’s hard to keep people committed that aren’t in your backyard.”

tjames@ndinsider.com

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Twitter: @TJamesNDI

Notre Dame defensive line coach Keith Gilmore speaks with 2017 defensive end recruit Robert Beal during the Irish Invasion. (SBT Photo/BECKY MALEWITZ)