Recruiting Reset: Notre Dame has work left to do at wide receiver

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

Wide receiver recruiting rarely slows down at Notre Dame under head coach Brian Kelly.

In every recruiting cycle since the 2012 class but one (2014), the Irish have signed at least three wide receivers.

Naturally that means Notre Dame has work left to do in the 2017 recruiting class. The Irish have received commitments from a pair of three-star recruits — Jordan Pouncey and Michael Young — and would likely welcome one or two more.

The number of viable options available for Notre Dame is shrinking, but the Irish still have their eyes on some talented wide receivers.


• Jordan Pouncey, 6-2, 186; Winter Park (Fla.) High: Pouncey became Notre Dame’s first wide receiver in the class when he committed on the spot at the Irish Invasion. He gave Kelly his pledge in the stands following the camp in which he pulled off a backflip following a reception.

The Irish coaching staff wouldn’t mind him making more exciting moments in Notre Dame Stadium. But they’ll have to keep Pouncey committed. Despite remaining firm in his pledge, Pouncey’s shown a bit of a wandering eye with visits to Central Florida and Miami for games this season.

Pouncey owns an offer list that isn’t equally reflected in his recruiting ranking. Despite committing to Notre Dame over offers from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Michigan State and others, he’s remained a low three-star prospect. 247Sports slates him as the No. 104 wide receiver in the 2017 class. Rivals left him off its top 100 list of wide receivers.

Pouncey’s seen more action at running back than wide receiver in his senior season. Through eight games, he’s carried the ball 46 times for 507 yards and seven touchdowns. He’s added 17 catches for 256 yards and returned a kickoff for a touchdown.

• Michael Young, 5-11, 178; Destrehan (La.) High: Like Pouncey, Young also attended the Irish Invasion. But the Louisiana product needed a little more time to consider his commitment, which came a month later. He chose Notre Dame over Texas A&M and Oregon offers.

The start of Young’s senior season was delayed with a broken right wrist, but he returned for the third game of the season. He did most of his damage as a blocker with a soft cast, but he’s started to make an impact as a playmaker with his wrist healed.

Last week, Young scored on an eight-yard touchdown pass and a 27-yard touchdown run on a sweep. 247Sports slates Young as the No. 41 wide receiver in the 2017 class. Rivals ranks him No. 79 at the position.

Both Young and Pouncey returned to Notre Dame on official visits for the Stanford game earlier this month.

Remaining targets

• Noah Igbinoghene, 6-0, 195; Hewitt-Trussville (Ala.) High: Igbinoghene named Notre Dame as one of his co-leaders sight unseen. He’ll get the chance to weigh his expectations against reality with an official visit to South Bend this weekend.

Igbinoghene announced a top five in July with Notre Dame and Duke tied at the top ahead of Virginia Tech, Missouri and Maryland.

The versatile athlete has been a weapon through the air and on the ground this season. In 10 games, Igbinoghene has totaled 74 rushes for 625 yards and nine touchdowns and 49 catches for 664 yards and eight touchdowns.

(UPDATE: Igbinoghene committed to Auburn on Nov. 24.)

247Sports: Four stars, No. 31 WR. | Rivals: Three stars.

• Oliver Martin, 6-1, 190; Iowa City West: A trip to South Bend started a bit of a visit spree for Martin. He traveled to Notre Dame for the Duke game in September and has since attended games at Michigan and Iowa.

While his interviews are sparse, he’s had a prolific high school career. Last week, the Army All-American surpassed 3,000 career receiving yards at Iowa City West. Expect Notre Dame to hang around as a contender for Martin until he makes a decision.

247Sports: Four stars, No. 10 WR. | Rivals: Three stars, No. 70 WR.

• Jamire Calvin, 5-10, 165; Los Angeles Cathedral: The California pass catcher intended to visit Notre Dame this weekend, but he’s looking to reschedule the trip. An ideal fit as a slot receiver, Calvin caught 63 catches for 1,056 yards and 10 touchdowns in the first eight games of his senior season.

He’s already made official visits to Nebraska and Oregon and has offers from Stanford, Ole Miss, Arizona, Michigan State and Washington to consider.

Rivals: Four stars, No. 36 WR | 247Sports: Three stars, No. 46 WR.

• Jeremiah Holloman, 6-2, 192; Covington (Ga.) Newton: It’s never a good sign when a visiting recruit tweets about a different game while attending another one. That’s what Holloman did when he shared a tweet about Georgia’s defense in the middle of the Notre Dame-Michigan State game on his Irish official visit.

The moment only reinforced the general perception that Holloman will eventually play for the Bulldogs. But the Irish will keep pushing. The emphasis placed on him landed Notre Dame a visit and a spot in his top 12 this summer alongside Georgia, Tennessee, Miami, Penn State, Auburn, Michigan State, LSU, Oklahoma State, USC, North Carolina and Oregon.

(UPDATE: Holloman committed to Georgia on Dec. 1.)

247Sports: Four stars, No. 11 WR. | Rivals: Three stars, No. 41 ATH.

• Hezekiah Jones, 6-0, 193; Stafford (Texas) High: Jones has maintained a commitment to Texas A&M since July, but that didn’t stop him from flirting with Notre Dame. He made a visit to see the Irish play against Michigan State after attending the Blue-Gold Game in April.

Notre Dame is the only school Jones has visited since giving his pledge to the Aggies. But flipping him won’t be easy with the Irish struggling and Texas A&M’s only loss of the season coming last week at Alabama.

Rivals: Four stars, No. 17 WR. | 247Sports: Four stars, No. 28 WR.

• Donovan Peoples-Jones, 6-2, 192; Detroit Cass Tech: Notre Dame doesn’t seem to have much momentum with Peoples-Jones, but the five-star recruit has too much talent to throw in the towel. His busy season has included visits to Nebraska, Michigan, Ohio State and Michigan State.

People-Jones has visited Notre Dame multiple times with his last trip coming in April. He’s on the wish list for most major programs.

247Sports: Five stars, No. 1 WR. | Rivals: Five stars, No. 2 WR.

Missed targets

• Osiris St. Brown, 6-2, 188; Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei: Notre Dame failed to double up on St. Browns when the younger St. Brown chose to commit to Stanford rather than follow his brother Equanimeous St. Brown, a sophomore wide receiver for the Irish. The four-star recruit gave the Cardinal a pledge in August.

Rivals: Four stars, No. 23 WR. | 247Sports: Four stars, No. 26 WR.

• Tarik Black, 6-4, 206; Cheshire (Conn.) Academy: Black won’t be joining his teammate, Irish running back commit CJ Holmes, in South Bend. The four-star recruit named Alabama, UCLA, Michigan, Auburn and Stanford as his top five schools earlier this month with plans to announce his decision at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in January.

Black visited Notre Dame in June, but the Irish slid down the list with a slow start to the season.

Rivals: Four stars, No. 14 WR. | 247Sports: Four stars, No. 27 WR.

• Trey Blount, 6-2, 196; Atlanta Pace Academy: Blount spoke highly of Notre Dame following a visit in March, but he gave his commitment to Georgia in May. The home-state school also landed his teammate Andrew Thomas, a four-star offensive tackle.

Rivals: Four stars, No. 33 WR. | 247Sports: Three stars, No. 51 WR. | 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

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 third in the series.

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RB: Notre Dame can be picky at running back