Notebook: 2018 DE Malik Vann ready for Notre Dame return

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

A bloody nose might have limited Malik Vann’s reps, but he wasn’t going to let it slow him down.

The sophomore defensive end recruit’s nose started leaking during a pass rush against Wisconsin commit Tyler Beach, but Vann still won the battle. The issue reoccurred when taking on offensive tackle Trey Smith, the top 2017 recruit in the country according to ESPN.

But Vann took away more than a bloody nose from The Opening Regional camp in Addison, Ill. In his mind, he became a better pass rusher.

“I learned how to pop my hips out quicker and use my hands better to rush the quarterback,” Vann said.

Vann’s potential as a pass rusher landed him a scholarship offer from Notre Dame in April. He received the news while on campus for the Blue-Gold Game. He liked what he saw from the Irish.

“A lot of hitting — I was watching (defensive end) Jay Hayes and (defensive tackle) Daniel Cage,” Vann said. “Cage because he’s a Cincinnati kid. We’ve worked out together. I’m trying to do an overnight too the next time I go up there.”

That next visit will come in June for the Irish Invasion. Vann’s early impressions have pushed Notre Dame, Michigan State and Kentucky to the top of his list. Ohio State could also make a move with an offer. Vann, a 6-foot-3, 245-pound product of Fairfield (Ohio) High, felt the Buckeyes may come calling soon.

Vann has plenty of time left to make a decision, but the early interest from colleges has him thinking ahead. He’s already established factors that will separate one school from the others.

“How well they graduate their team or how well the university graduates their kids, the success of the team,” Vann said, “and how comfortable I feel being out there doing an overnight and being around the team.”

247Sports pegs Vann as a four-star recruit and the No. 6 inside linebacker in the 2018 class.

Gant to return

Another 2018 recruit out of Ohio plans to be at the Irish Invasion in June: linebacker Dallas Gant.

The 6-3, 195-pound sophomore at Toledo (Ohio) St. John’s Jesuit, already saw his first Notre Dame game in September against UMass.

“I liked it,” Gant said. “The atmosphere was great. The fans were great. They played a great game. I liked the defense. I liked watching (former Irish linebacker) Jaylon Smith.”

Notre Dame has yet to offer Gant, but seven schools — Michigan State, Kentucky, Boston College, Cincinnati, Iowa State, Toledo and Bowling Green — have already lined up in his recruitment. He’ll have a chance to improve his standing with ND coaches at the Irish Invasion.

“They like my length, the way I play,” Gant said. “They want me to come down and see how I move and stuff like that. I’ll see the campus a little more other than the one time I went down there.”

Gant also plans to camp at Ohio State, Michigan State, Penn State and possibly Stanford this summer.

Eye on Cage

Jerron Cage has different college plans than his older brother.

Cage committed to Ohio State last July before Notre Dame, where his older brother, Daniel, plays defensive tackle, had even offered the younger Cage. The Irish followed through with an offer in September and still maintain contact with him.

Jerron Cage said this past weekend that he still communicates with Notre Dame and Michigan State in addition to Ohio State. He attended multiple games in South Bend last year to watch his older brother and intends to do the same this fall. Daniel Cage returned the favor by attending The Opening Regional on Saturday to watch his younger brother.

As long as Jerron Cage is willing to listen, Notre Dame will likely be interested in swaying him away from Ohio State.

247Sports slates the 6-2, 279-pound Cage as a four-star recruit and the No. 6 defensive tackle in the 2017 class. Rivals ranks him as a three-star prospect and No. 34 at the position.

Mum Riep

Four-star cornerback Amir Riep has reported scholarship offers from more than 40 schools, but he’s not ready to name any leaders.

“There’s no leaders, but I’m just waiting out the process,” Riep said. “I’m thankful that I’m in this position, but there’s no leaders right now.”

Notre Dame is on the offer list that also includes Ohio State, Michigan State, Michigan, Florida State, LSU, Oklahoma and USC. The 6-0, 180-pound junior from Cincinnati Colerain, the alma mater of former Irish linebacker Jarrett Grace, visited South Bend in March. But when asked where Notre Dame stands, Riep managed to compliment other schools at the same time.

“Every school’s a great school, and that’s also a great school,” Riep said. “Great academics. They’re all great schools. I have nothing bad to say about them.”

Riep might even trim his list to one before announcing any top schools. He said he plans to make a decision during the summer.

247Sports pegs Riep as the No. 8 cornerback in the 2017 class. Rivals ranks him 23rd at the position.

tjames@ndinsider.com

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Twitter: @TJamesNDI

Defensive end Malik Vann, a 2018 recruit, will make his second visit to Notre Dame in June for the Irish Invasion. (Photo courtesy of Student Sports)