Notebook: Evaluation period starts for ND recruiting

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

The end of spring football brings the start of another evaluation period for Notre Dame’s coaching staff. The coaches will hit the recruiting trail to scout and build relationships at schools across the country.

The period started April 15 and runs through May 31. Coaches are allowed to observe recruits at their school but are not allowed to have any in-person contact. The conversations are reserved for high school personnel.

Bowl subdivisions schools are allowed 168 evaluations by the NCAA during the period.

Notre Dame started its evaluation period in earnest Thursday. Sophomore defensive end target Malik Vann reported receiving a visit from Irish recruiting coordinator Mike Elston at Fairfield (Ohio) High School just outside of Cincinnati. The 6-foot-3, 245-pound Vann landed a Notre Dame scholarship offer during his visit for the Blue-Gold Game this past weekend.

Cincinnati Moeller defensive tackle Aeneas Hawkins, a 2018 target, also reported a visit from Elston.

Decision time for Robertson

The long-awaited commitment for five-star wide receiver Demetris Robertson appears to be coming soon.

The 2016 recruit who has pushed his process well past signing day will announce his decision at his high school on May 2, according to a report from Woody Wommack of Rivals. Wommack discussed the decision with Robertson’s brother and guardian, Carlos Robertson.

“He has his mind made up," Carlos Robertson wrote in a text message to Wommack.

Demetris Robertson, a 6-0, 175-pound senior at Savannah (Ga.) Christian Prep, already has signed financial aid agreements with Georgia, Georgia Tech and Cal. Those agreements are non-binding to Robertson, unlike the National Letter of Intent, but reserve him a scholarship at each school. The deadline to sign a letter-of-intent, which is optional, passed on April 1.

Robertson made official visits to the three previously named schools in addition to Notre Dame and Alabama. His trips to Alabama and Georgia happened after signing day. Notre Dame, which hosted Robertson in South Bend for the 2015 season opener against Texas, sent an equipment truck to Savannah in January to impress him.

A trip to Stanford never happened for Robertson despite reported multiple attempts to improve his SAT score to become recruitable.

When Robertson makes his commitment next month, it won’t prevent him from enrolling at a different school this summer or fall. That’s the gamble schools made in continuing to recruit him. The reward of landing one of the top players in the country has outweighed the risk. 

Both Rivals and 247Sports peg Robertson as the No. 1 wide receiver in the 2016 class.

New visit rule

The move to ban satellite camps overshadowed an important recruiting rule change proposal adopted by the NCAA Division I Council earlier this month. The proposal would allow FBS programs to pay the round-trip costs for up to two parents or legal guardians accompanying a recruit on an official visit. Under the current rules, schools are allowed to cover the expenses for the recruit only.

Because it recruits nationally, the proposal should help Notre Dame. Some recruits who visit from California or Florida aren’t always accompanied by their parents because of travel costs. Winning over parents can be crucial in the recruiting process.

Demetris Robertson, for example, made his official visit to Notre Dame by himself. The Irish may have improved their chances of signing him if his mother or brother joined him on the trip.

The value for Notre Dame, and any other school, could be limited, however, with recruiting cycles speeding up. Unofficial visits have become more important with recruits making more visits and committing more often before their senior seasons. Only seniors are allowed to make official visits.

Nearly 60 of the recruits with an Irish offer in the 2017 class have made an unofficial visit to Notre Dame.

The new ruling will be put in place starting Aug. 1 if the Division I Board of Directors accepts the proposal later next week.

Pride’s speed

Future Notre Dame cornerback Troy Pride Jr. set the pace at the Greenville County (S.C.) Track and Field Championships on Wednesday.

Pride took home first place and set county meet records in the 100-meter, 200-meter and 400-meter races. In the 100, Pride finished in 10.72 seconds in a race by himself. His starting blocks slipped during the finals and he was allowed to run a second time. In the 200, Pride recorded a 21.90 in the finals after posting a 21.36 in the prelims. His 400 time of 48.96 broke his county record.

Pride ranks first in South Carolina with his best times of the season in the 400 (48.83) and 200 (21.35), according to He’s tied for fourth in the 100 (10.7).

For comparison’s sake, Notre Dame cornerback Shaun Crawford owned personal bests of 10.54 in the 100 and 21.47 in high school. Pride’s 400 time could compete with Notre Dame’s current sprinters. Alex Groesch and Drake Stimson ran a 48.91 and a 48.94, respectively, in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge at Louisville this past weekend.

The 6-0, 165-pound Pride signed with the Irish in February and will join the team in June.


Twitter: @TJamesNDI

The Irish take the field before the Blue-Gold Game at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend Saturday, April 16, 2016. Tribune photo/MICHAEL CATERINA