Recruiting Reset: Notre Dame can be picky at running back

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

The rewards of past recruiting cycles have allowed Notre Dame to be picky with running backs in the 2017 class.

In the previous two classes, the Irish have added four running backs: Josh Adams, Dexter Williams, Tony Jones Jr., and Deon McIntosh. Notre Dame could find room for another duo in 2017, but the Irish appear content with landing only one.

The Irish Invasion in June included two 2017 running back targets: CJ Holmes and Colin Wilson. Holmes ended up committing to Notre Dame in July, and the Irish haven’t hosted a 2017 running back target since then.


• CJ Holmes, 6-0, 196; Cheshire (Conn.) Academy: Holmes dazzled at the Irish Invasion by showing his skills as a receiver including a one-handed grab. He showed the versatility as a running back the Irish covet. And at the same time, he fell in love with Notre Dame.

He made his announcement while at The Opening Finals at Nike World Headquarters in July, but he had settled on an Irish commitment weeks prior. He chose Notre Dame over offers from Alabama, Tennessee, Michigan, Penn State and others.

Earlier this season, Holmes rushed for 240 yards and two touchdowns in a game. Rivals ranks him as a four-star recruit and the No. 5 all-purpose back in the 2017 class. 247Sports slates him as a three-star prospect and the No. 41 athlete in the class.

Remaining targets

• Robert Burns, 5-11, 205; Miami Gulliver Prep: Pulling the Under Armour All-American out of Miami would also mean ripping him away from his commitment to the Hurricanes. Burns gave his commitment to the hometown school in February, but he still made a visit to Notre Dame in March.

And if Burns sticks to his previously stated plan, he will return to South Bend next weekend when the Irish host the Hurricanes. The seasons for both teams have run in opposite directions which will only make it harder for Notre Dame to pull off the flip.

Burns, a three-star recruit, claimed offers from Alabama, Clemson, Florida State, Georgia and Ohio State among others. 247Sports slates him as the No. 22 running back in the class. Rivals ranks him 23rd at the position.

• Stephen Carr, 6-0, 203; Fontana (Calif.) Summit: Despite a commitment to USC, Carr has expressed an interest in visiting Notre Dame in the past. Has that ship sailed? The Irish will need to push to get him on campus if they feel running back remains a need.

Carr, a four-star recruit, has owned a spot in the top tier of running backs in the 2017 class for quite some time. Rivals ranks him as the No. 1 all-purpose back. 247Sports slates him as the No. 3 running back.

As long as Carr keeps the door open to Notre Dame, the Irish would be wise to continue pursuing him.

Missed targets

• Najee Harris, 6-3, 226; Antioch (Calif.) High: Everyone wants a shot at Harris. So naturally the five-star recruit gave an early pledge to Alabama. Harris, ranked as the No. 1 overall recruit in the 2017 class, has been committed to the Crimson Tide since April 2015.

Harris became one of the latest targets of a recruiting stunt by Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh, who announced Antioch’s homecoming queen while attending Harris’ game. Notre Dame hasn’t been able to get Harris on campus for a visit.

• A.J. Dillon, 6-1, 232; Groton (Mass.) Lawrence Academy: When Notre Dame offered Dillon in January, many imagined he would commit to the Irish. Dillon, the grandson of Notre Dame legend Thom Gatewood, visited South Bend in March.

But Michigan beat out Notre Dame. The Wolverines extended an offer to Dillon shortly after the Irish and hosted him on campus days after his visit to Notre Dame. That was enough to land a commitment from the four-star recruit.

• Colin Wilson, 6-1, 220; Green Cove Springs (Fla.) Clay: Notre Dame and Louisville emerged as leaders for Wilson following June visits to both schools, but the Cardinals claimed victory when they received his commitment earlier this week.

Rivals rates Wilson as a four-star recruit. 247Sports slates him as a three-star prospect.


Twitter: @TJamesNDI

Notre Dame running back commit CJ Holmes participates in the Irish Invasion at Notre Dame Stadium in June. (Tribune Photo/MICHAEL CATERINA)

In the coming weeks, the ND Insider Recruiting Reset series will take a position-by-position look at Notre Dame’s recruiting efforts in the 2017 class. This story is the second in the series.

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