Notre Dame trying to pull OL Jedrick Wills out of Kentucky

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

Jedrick Wills certainly has a lot of Kentucky pride.

The 6-foot-5, 315-pound offensive lineman made sure to represent the commonwealth while competing at The Opening Finals at Nike World Headquarters in Beaverton, Ore.

“Everybody always asks where I’m from, and when I say Kentucky, they’re like ‘Wow,’ ” Wills said. “It’s definitely greater competition than I normally see playing in Kentucky.”

Indiana’s neighbor to the south isn’t known for its abundance of high school football talent, but the University of Kentucky has managed to keep many of its top prospects at home under head coach Mark Stoops. The Wildcats will be some of the toughest competition for Notre Dame in Wills’ recruitment.

When Wills released a video revealing his top eight schools on June 29, Kentucky, Notre Dame, Michigan, Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, LSU and Florida appeared on the screen. Kentucky was listed first, followed by Notre Dame. It might not have been a coincidence.

Kentucky already has added a commitment from Wills’ teammate at Lexington Lafayette, quarterback Walker Wood. In the 2016 class, Kentucky signed the four top-rated recruits, according to Rivals, from the commonwealth. But Wills insists he won’t be pressured into joining the Wildcats.

“The pressure doesn’t get to me at all,'' he said. "I really don’t have any pressure. At the end of the day, it’s what fits me best. I’m showing love to those coaches. I like (offensive line) coach (John) Schlarman and (tight ends) coach (Vince) Marrow, coach Stoops. All those guys over there. They have a really good relationship with me.”

Programs across the country have invaded Kentucky to get a shot at Wills. The powerful and agile lineman received a five-star ranking from Rivals as the No. 3 offensive tackle in the 2017 class. Wills is the third five-star recruit from Kentucky in the last three recruiting cycles. 247Sports slates him as a four-star position and the 10th at the position.

After Wills spent a week in Oregon earlier this month, he followed it up with visits to Georgia and Alabama. A trip to Michigan is scheduled for August. But he already has been to Notre Dame twice. Wills traveled to South Bend in early June for an unofficial visit and visited last summer for the Irish Invasion.

His relationship with offensive line coach Harry Hiestand is well established. Wills appreciates how Hiestand relates to his players.

“With his history and the way he cares for them, it’s like a father-son relationship that he likes to build with everybody,” Wills said.

Notre Dame would like to add at least one more offensive lineman to a class that already has commitments from four-star recruits Josh Lugg and Robert Hainsey and three-star recruit Dillan Gibbons. Wills, Foster Sarell and Trey Smith remain as the top targets for the Irish.

With no timetable for a commitment, Wills said Notre Dame is likely to receive one of his five official visits in the fall. The Irish have put themselves in position to be a contender.

“The relationship that I have with (head) coach (Brian) Kelly and coach Hiestand and all they can offer me there at Notre Dame with the football, the history and the academics,” Wills said, “it’s all one package.”

Below are junior highlights of Wills via Hudl.

Offensive line recruit Jedrick Wills visited Notre Dame in June in 2015 and 2016. (Tribune Photo/BECKY MALEWITZ)