Star power plentiful on Notre Dame recruiting visitors list

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

Only 21 football recruits nationally in the 2017 class can claim a five-star rating from Rivals. Two of those recruits are on Notre Dame's campus this weekend.

While the visitors list for Saturday’s Blue-Gold Game is intentionally light as far as quantity of targets in the junior class, it doesn’t lack in star power. The Irish pushed for their junior day in March to be the premier recruiting event of the spring.

But this weekend’s Notre Dame Football Coaches Clinic gave the Irish a convenient recruiting boost for the Blue-Gold Game. Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy head coach Kevin Wright and Detroit Cass Tech head coach Thomas Wilcher both served as guest speakers on Friday.

Both also have five-star prospects visiting South Bend: Defensive end Joshua Kaindoh from IMG Academy and wide receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones from Cass Tech.

Kaindoh, a 6-foot-6, 256-pound recruit, arrived Thursday night and attended Friday morning’s Irish practice at Notre Dame Stadium. Even on the sideline with ND's players, he couldn’t be missed.

“When I saw him, he looked like a college senior,” said CBS Sports Network recruiting analyst Tom Lemming, who met with Kaindoh during a trip to IMG Academy earlier this year. “He has the build of (former Irish defensive end and two-time Super Bowl champion) Justin Tuck. He has great length — long arms, long legs. He’s a terrific pass rusher. He certainly looks like a college All-American already.”

Kaindoh, whose family lives in Maryland, has received offers from all across the country — Alabama, Clemson, Florida State, Ohio State and USC, to name a few. He’s an elite prospect with an interest in studying medicine, a reason for the Irish to hope they can hit home with Kaindoh.

“Notre Dame has a lot of good defensive linemen, but no great ones,” Lemming said. “This is a guy that could turn out to be a great one. It would really enhance Notre Dame’s defense.”

Rivals ranks Kaindoh as the No. 1 weakside defensive end nationally and No. 4 overall regardless of position in the 2017 class. 247Sports slates him as a four-star recruit, fourth at his position and No. 27 overall.

Peoples-Jones, a 6-1, 188-pound freakish athlete, was scheduled to arrive on Notre Dame’s campus Friday night.

Last summer, Peoples-Jones won The Opening Nike Football Rating Championship, a competition that included various athletic testing, including the 40-yard dash and vertical jump. He beat out a field of mostly 2016 recruits with a 4.42-second 40 and a 42.4-inch vertical. He’s solidified himself as a national recruit in the months since.

Alabama, Clemson, Michigan, Ohio State, Stanford and USC are among the schools in pursuit of Peoples-Jones.

“He’s outstanding. He’s a terrific athlete on both sides of the ball,” Lemming said. “He’s focusing more on wide receiver, and he could be a game-breaker. He can be an impact offensive player.”

Both Rivals and 247Sports rate Peoples-Jones as a five-star recruit and the No. 2 wide receiver in the 2017 class.

Peoples-Jones will be joined by several teammates including safety Jaylen Kelly-Powell, a fellow Irish recruiting target. The 6-0, 183-pound Kelly-Powell last visited Notre Dame in January for an early junior day and attended last year’s season opener vs. Texas.

“He’s another really good athlete,” Lemming said. “He and Peoples-Jones are the two best players at Cass Tech. He’s another guy that has a lot of interest from major schools because of his overall athletic ability.”

Kelly-Powell’s offer list includes Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Stanford and UCLA. 247Sports slates him as a four-star recruit and the No. 12 safety in the 2017 class. Rivals rates him as a three-star recruit and the No. 24 safety.

Running back target Markese Stepp, a 2018 recruit, will also be on campus. The Indianapolis Cathedral product received an Irish offer in February following a sophomore season in which he rushed for 1,295 yards and 17 touchdowns.

The rest of the visitors expected on campus are a mixture of signed 2016 recruits, 2017 commits and prospects in the 2017 and 2018 classes who could add offers in the future.

Baylor wide receiver commit Hezekiah Jones, a 2017 prospect from Sachse, Texas, would appear to be the most likely to receive an Irish offer. He said Friday that he felt good news could be coming this weekend from Notre Dame’s coaching staff.

“He would be a big-time catch for them,” Lemming said. “He can run. He can also hit. He’s one of the better athletes in the Houston area and one of the big names.”

Rivals ranks Jones as the No. 14 wide receiver in the 2017 class. 247Sports slates him 24th at the position. Both peg his as a four-star recruit.

BLUE-GOLD VISITORS LIST

The following recruits are expected to be on Notre Dame’s campus this weekend for the Blue-Gold Game.

2016 SIGNEES

QB Ian Book

OL Liam Eichenberg

S Jalen Elliott

LB Jamir Jones

CB Julian Love

CB Troy Pride Jr.

LS John Shannon

CB Donte Vaughn

2017 COMMITS

DT Kurt Hinish

OL Josh Lugg

TE Brock Wright

2017 TARGETS

DE Joshua Kaindoh

DB Jaylen Kelly-Powell

WR Donovan Peoples-Jones

2018 TARGETS

RB Markese Stepp

2017 PROSPECTS

CB Donovan Johnson

WR Hezekiah Jones

QB Rodney Hall

2018 PROSPECTS

OL Wyatt Blake

WR Jahan Dotson

TE Pat Freiermuth

ATH Kalon Gervin

S Isaiah Humphries

OL Dawson Jaramillo

QB Isaiah Jones

TE Zack Kuntz

RB Kristian Pechac

OL Blaine Scott

LB DeAndre Square

LB/DE Malik Vann

tjames@ndinsider.com

574-235-6214

Twitter: @TJamesNDI

Five-star defensive end Joshua Kaindoh visited Notre Dame for the Blue-Gold Game. (Photo courtesy of Student Sports)