Notebook: DB Jaylen Kelly-Powell comfortable with ND

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

ADDISON, Ill. — Jaylen Kelly-Powell had hoped to make a college visit to Oregon at some point.

Thanks to his performance Saturday at The Opening Regional camp in the Chicago area, Kelly-Powell is guaranteed a trip to the Beaver State. Kelly-Powell, a 6-foot, 183-pound defensive back from Detroit, received an invite to The Opening Finals at Nike World Headquarters in Beaverton, Ore., in July.

Kelly-Powell did so a day after making his fourth visit to Notre Dame since the start of the 2015 football season. A number of factors have turned Kelly-Powell into a frequent campus visitor.

“Coach (Brian) Kelly. Coach (Keith) Gilmore. Education and network after football,” Kelly-Powell said. “It’s unbelievable. You have a network inside different countries. I’m like, ‘Wow.’”

Notre Dame’s head coach spent extra time with Kelly-Powell when he visited for the Blue-Gold Game in April.

“Great guy,” Kelly-Powell said. “Showed me around the campus. Showed me the football stadium where they’re going to be adding onto to it with the old brick how it was way back then. It’s pretty good. A lot of tradition.”

Gilmore, Notre Dame’s defensive line coach, leads the Irish recruiting efforts in Michigan. He has connections from his time as a player and coach in the state and still has family in the area. Kelly-Powell has played with a couple of Gilmore’s grandsons in Detroit.

“He’s a great person to me beyond just talking about football,” Kelly-Powell said of Gilmore. “He talks to me about life really. Makes sure I’m good. He’s willing to help me get to the next level.”

A year ago, Kelly-Powell didn’t know much about Notre Dame, and the Irish weren’t sure if they would target the Detroit Cass Tech product. Now he’s become a priority defensive back recruit and plenty familiar with Notre Dame.

“I knew a little bit about football, but not talking about education-wise and network,” Kelly-Powell said reflecting on what he’s learned the past year. “It’s really great. A degree from there sets you for life.”

Most recruiting services peg Kelly-Powell as a safety, where he’s spent much of his time in the secondary. 247Sports slates Kelly-Powell as a four-star recruit and the No. 15 safety in the 2017 class. Rivals ranks him as a three-star prospect and the No. 24 safety.

But Kelly-Powell has also played nickel back and cornerback, and he showed his skill set Saturday. He was able to grab interceptions in one-on-one coverage against wide receivers.

Notre Dame would likely be happy to have Kelly-Powell at any position in its secondary.

“(Defensive backs) coach (Todd) Lyght wants me to play corner. Everybody else wants me to kind of play safety, nickel. I’m very versatile, so they want to use me.”

Plenty of college programs are jockeying to land Kelly-Powell’s commitment and his travels reflect that.

Since the start of the year, Kelly-Powell has visited Michigan State, Notre Dame, Florida State, Alabama, Tennessee, Ohio State, Michigan, USC, UCLA, Louisville, West Virginia and Kentucky. And he’s not done yet.

Kelly-Powell started his trek to Wisconsin following Saturday’s camp. Trips to Oregon, Pittsburgh and Penn State are still on his wish list.

Sorting out a decision will take some time and may require more return trips to his top schools. He said Saturday he plans to see Notre Dame again at an undetermined date. The pressure of a decision can wait.

“Right now I’m just trying to finish all my visits out and then after that, sit down with my parents and the coaches and have people help me in this process,” Kelly-Powell said. “We’ll all come together, work everything out and see what’s best for me and what fits me.”

Other invites

Three other players received invitations to The Opening Finals following Saturday’s camp: offensive tackle Trey Smith, defensive back Amir Riep and linebacker Joshua Ross. Quarterback Hunter Johnson advanced to Elite 11 Finals, the national quarterback competition that coincides with The Opening.

Each of the four previously mentioned juniors received Notre Dame offers at some point in the recruiting process. Johnson, a Clemson commit from Brownsburg, Ind., was the first Irish quarterback target in the 2017 class. Ross committed to Michigan, where his older brother played from 2012-15, in March.

Smith visited Notre Dame in April. Riep attended the Irish junior day in March.

Jurkovec returns

Notre Dame’s lone quarterback target in the 2018 class is making a return visit to South Bend on Sunday and Monday.

Phil Jurkovec, a 6-5, 202-pound sophomore at Gibsonia (Pa.) Pine-Richland, has remained the top priority for offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Mike Sanford since receiving an Irish offer in November.

Jurkovec last visited Notre Dame in March and also attended the USC game in South Bend.

Last season, Jurkovec completed 176 of 264 passes (67 percent) for 2,560 yards and 20 touchdowns with only four interceptions and rushed for 1,250 yards and 11 TDs.

247Sports slates Jurkovec as the No. 1 dual-threat quarterback in the 2018 class.


Twitter: @TJamesNDI

Defensive back Jaylen Kelly-Powell receiving an invitation to The Opening Finals following The Opening Regional in Addison, Ill. (Tribune photo/TYLER JAMES)