WR Jordan Pouncey commits to Notre Dame at Irish Invasion

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

SOUTH BEND — Jordan Pouncey climbed the steps leading from the field in Notre Dame Stadium to meet Brian Kelly in the stands. He had something he wanted to tell Notre Dame’s head coach following the Irish Invasion.

The three-star wide receiver gave his verbal commitment to join Notre Dame’s 2017 recruiting class.

Pouncey, a 6-foot-3, 186-pound athlete from Winter Park, Fla., sealed his pledge with a two-armed hug with Kelly.

Pouncey started his celebration early during the camp. After catching a pass down the middle of the field, Pouncey ended it with a cartwheel and sprung into a backflip.

Instead of holding satellite camps across the country, Notre Dame chose to keep the emphasis on bringing recruits from Florida and several other states on campus. The strategy worked at the Irish Invasion.

Pouncey became the second commitment of the weekend following Orlando defensive end Jonathon MacCollister’s announcement on Friday. Notre Dame’s 2017 class now consists of 12 verbal commitments.

“He’s a good, solid receiver,” said CBS Sports Network recruiting analyst Tom Lemming. “He has good size. He’s a workmanlike wide receiver.”

247Sports slates him as the No. 103 wide receiver in the 2017 class. Rivals doesn’t have him ranked in its top 100 wide receivers.

Pouncey’s commitment mirrors the sequence that led to Kevin Stepherson’s commitment at last year’s Irish Invasion. Stepherson, a three-star wide receiver from Jacksonville, Fla., also gave Notre Dame his word immediately following last year’s camp. In just his first semester on campus this spring, Stepherson emerged as one of the most consistent wide receivers at practice and drew praise from the coaching staff.

Perhaps Pouncey will outperform his early recruiting ranking. Certainly Notre Dame wasn’t the only program impressed with him.

Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Michigan State are among the top schools to offer Pouncey a scholarship. The Gators had a perceived edge considering Pouncey’s cousins, twin offensive linemen Mike and Maurkice, starred for the program before starting NFL careers with the Dolphins and Steelers, respectively.

Jordan Pouncey chose to take his own path, and it’s a direction many recruits from the state of Florida have chosen since running backs coach Autry Denson, a Florida native, joined the coaching staff last year. Pouncey became the 11th commitment from the state since last March.

Though Pouncey’s commitment stole the show, a number of campers at the Irish Invasion put up strong performances.

• Running back CJ Holmes, a 2017 target, showed his ability as a pass catcher in addition to his talent in the backfield. The 6-0, 192-pound recruit from Cheshire (Conn.) Academy, looked smooth in his routes and added a one-handed snag on a pass from Notre Dame quarterback commit Avery Davis. Holmes also won the 40-yard dash race against the other running backs at the camp.

• Wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown, a 2018 target, beat defenders with ease and was on the receiving end of a number of passes from high school teammate JT Daniels, Notre Dame’s 2019 quarterback target. St. Brown (5-10, 164) is the younger brother of Irish wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown. His other brother, 2017 target Osiris, attended the camp but did not participate. Daniels and the St. Browns play at Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei.

• Tight end Cole Kmet, a 2017 ND commit, could barely be defended by the competition. On one touchdown play down the seam, Irish tight end Alizé Jones joined him to celebrate by yelling “Tight End U” repeatedly. Kmet (6-5, 238) could continue the tradition of excellence at the position with fellow commit Brock Wright.

• Defensive end Hunter Echols, a 2017 UCLA commit, didn’t get to unleash his full pass rush repertoire as Notre Dame had only one offensive lineman participate in the camp — most offensive linemen will take part in the lineman camp next week. But Echols, a 6-5, 228-pounder from Los Angeles, still drew praise from defensive line coach Keith Gilmore for how he used his hands in drill work. 

When defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder brought outside linebacker target Justin Foster over to work on some pass rush technique, it was a little too late with the lack of offensive linemen. Echols had another idea. “You can try to block us, Coach,” Echols said to VanGorder.

• Linebacker Dallas Gant, a 2018 recruit from Toledo (Ohio) St. John’s, secured a scholarship offer with his performance Saturday night. The long, fluid athlete (6-3, 208) also added an Ohio State offer the day prior. 

On the sidelines

Many of Notre Dame’s top targets in the 2017 class didn’t participate in the camp, but were soaking in the atmosphere of the Irish Invasion. Recruiting coordinator Mike Elston led the camp with a microphone and a local DJ played music during the action.

Kelly hung out with Detroit defensive backs Jaylen Kelly-Powell and Ambry Thomas as they entered the stadium. VanGorder spent extra time with Thomas. Defensive backs Latavious Brini and Amari Carter paid close attention to defensive backs coach Todd Lyght’s drills.

Offensive linemen Foster Sarell, Robert Hainsey, Andrew Thomas and Jamaree Salyer followed around Harry Hiestand and his crew of Irish offensive linemen that included Mike McGlinchey, Alex Bars and Sam Mustipher.

Dozens of current Notre Dame players attended the camp and cheered on the participants.

Committed to The University of Notre Dame!!! #IRISHEL17E#LuckyBoyz#GoIrishpic.twitter.com/5bM2eEaPZr

— PounceyNumbaSeven (@_pouncey) June 19, 2016

tjames@ndinsider.com | 574-235-6214 | Twitter: @TJamesNDI

Jordan Pouncey participates in the Irish Invasion at Notre Dame Stadium Saturday, June 18, 2016. ND Insider Photo/MICHAEL CATERINA