Notebook: Notre Dame makes late run at in-state recruit Russ Yeast

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

Notre Dame’s coaching staff has spent time traveling the country looking for new football recruits to add in the final weeks before National Signing Day.

But the Irish didn’t have to look far for their latest target in the 2017 class. Russ Yeast, a senior at Greenwood (Ind.) Center Grove High School, reported a scholarship offer Wednesday from Notre Dame.

Yeast became the second in-state recruit from the 2017 class to report a new offer from the Irish. Wide receiver Mac Hippenhammer of Fort Wayne did the same on Sunday.

In the same way Penn State came into Indiana to pick up a commitment from Hippenhammer, Louisville received Yeast’s pledge back in October. Both recruits have been on Notre Dame’s radar for quite some time. The Irish will try to flip their commitments in the final weeks of the recruiting cycle.

Yeast only recently moved to Indiana when his coaching father, Craig, was named the offensive coordinator at Franklin College. Yeast transferred from Fremont (Ohio) Ross, where he was initially noticed by Notre Dame. He attended the Irish Invasion camp in 2015.

This past season at Center Grove, Yeast rushed 187 times for 1,525 yards and 19 touchdowns and caught 32 passes for 602 yards and eight touchdowns. But his future might be on defense.

247Sports slates him as a three-star recruit and the No. 48 cornerback in the 2017 class. Rivals ranks him as a four-star recruit and the No. 21 athlete, a designation for a player without a specific position.

The 5-foot-11, 185-pound Yeast added Under Armour All-American to his résumé, when he played in the all-star game earlier this month. In a testament to his versatility, Yeast played wide receiver all week and proved to be a tough cover against the top defensive backs in the country. He was also named Indiana’s Gatorade Player of the Year.

Yeast was last on Notre Dame’s campus in 2015, when he took part in the Irish Invasion camp. Notre Dame joined Oklahoma, which offered Yeast last week, as two schools trying to flip Yeast late in the recruiting cycle. The Irish will likely need to get Yeast on campus again in order to successfully finish the poaching attempt.

No visit from Johnson

Defensive end Ryan Johnson gave Notre Dame a spot in his top six schools, but on Wednesday he told the Tribune he wouldn’t be giving the Irish one of his remaining visits.

The Irish were battling Alabama, Auburn, Stanford, Oregon and Texas in Johnson’s recruitment. Instead Notre Dame will have to look elsewhere for defensive end help with only one player — three-star recruit Jonathon MacCollister — committed at the position in this cycle.

The 6-foot-3, 240-pound Johnson visited Stanford this past weekend. Rivals ranks the senior from Mobile (Ala.) St. Paul’s Episcopal as a four-star recruit and the No. 7 strongside defensive end in the class. 247Sports pegs him as a three-star recruit and 20th at the position.

If Notre Dame is going to land another defensive end recruit in the class, it would likely come from a player committed elsewhere. The Irish continue to push for Kentucky commit Joshua Paschal and recently targeted Arizona commit Jalen Harris.

Smith to Pitt

One of Notre Dame’s late wide receiver offers came off the board Wednesday. Michael Smith, a three-star recruit from Vero Beach, Fla., announced his commitment to Pittsburgh.

Notre Dame became one of only a handful of major programs to offer Smith when the coaching staff reached out to him last month. But Pittsburgh had a head start with an offer in early December and hosting him on a visit a week later.

Smith’s recruitment started to gain steam after a senior season with 67 receptions for 1,561 yards and 24 touchdowns.

tjames@ndinsider.com

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Twitter: @TJamesNDI

Center Grove High School senior Russ Yeast (3) rushes the ball out of the backfield and into the Carmel secondary. (Doug McSchooler/The Indianapolis Star via AP)