Notre Dame to host familiar Detroit DB recruits

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

A pair of familiar faces plan to see Notre Dame again Friday.

Defensive back recruits Jaylen Kelly-Powell and Ambry Thomas said they will make an unofficial visit on Friday. The Detroit duo have made multiple trips to South Bend since the start of the 2015 football season.

Kelly-Powell, a 6-foot, 183-pound safety at Detroit Cass Tech, was last on Notre Dame’s campus for the Blue-Gold Game in April. Thomas, a 5-11, 168-pound cornerback at Detroit Martin Luther King, last visited the Irish for a junior day in January.

The frequency of visits from Kelly-Powell and Thomas is both a reflection of their interest in the Irish and Notre Dame’s increased emphasis of recruiting in Michigan.

After not signing a single player from the state in the 2015 class, Notre Dame added three defensive ends from Michigan in the 2016 class: Daelin Hayes, Khalid Kareem and Adetokunbo Ogundeji. Before that, the Irish had only signed three Michigan recruits since 2011: defensive end Jhonny Williams (2014), offensive lineman Steve Elmer (2013) and kicker Kyle Brindza (2011).

Irish defensive line coach Keith Gilmore’s connections in the state paid dividends in his first full season recruiting for the Irish. Gilmore grew up in the Detroit area and played and coached at multiple schools in the state as he started his coaching career. He was the primary recruiter for Hayes, Kareem and Ogundeji in the previous recruiting cycle.

The next test for Gilmore will be to recruit successfully in Michigan beyond the defensive line. Defensive backs coach Todd Lyght will also play an important role in the recruitment of Kelly-Powell and Thomas, but Gilmore has helped laid the groundwork to get both players on campus with regularity.

Familiarity with Notre Dame helped sway Hayes and Kareem to South Bend after dropping commitments to USC and Alabama, respectively.

The scholarship offers for Kelly-Powell and Thomas span the country, but the top contenders appear to be the powerhouse programs in the Midwest.

Kelly-Powell’s offer list includes Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Oklahoma and Stanford. 247Sports slates Kelly-Powell as a four-star recruit and the No. 15 safety in the 2017 class. Rivals rates him as three-star prospect and the No. 24 safety.

Thomas, a four-star recruit, also holds offers from Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State and Oklahoma in addition to Penn State, LSU and others. 247Sports pegs Thomas as the No. 9 cornerback in the 2017 class. Rivals ranks him 16th at the position.

Kelly-Powell said he and Thomas will be joined by a number of other players from the Detroit area and Belleville High. Reggie Pearson, a 2018 safety from River Rouge, Mich., confirmed he will also be on campus.


Twitter: @TJamesNDI

Safety Jaylen Kelly-Powell, a 2017 recruit, will return to Notre Dame for his fourth visit since the start of the 2015 season. (Photo courtesy of Student Sports)
Four-star cornerback Ambry Thomas, a 2017 recruit, visited Notre Dame on Friday, May 13, 2016. It was his third trip to campus since the start of the 2015 season. (Photo courtesy of Student Sports)