Focus on DE and WR for Notre Dame's final recruiting weekend before signing day

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

Notre Dame’s never-ending search for defensive end recruits has stretched into the final weekend of the 2017 recruiting cycle.

The Irish will host one last defensive end target in the hopes of adding a talented player at a position of need. Jalen Harris, a 6-foot-4, 210-pound senior at Mesa (Ariz.) Desert Ridge, said he is scheduled to arrive on campus Friday.

Convincing Harris to sign with the Irish on Wednesday won’t be easy. The three-star recruit has been committed to Arizona — where his father, Sean, played football and his mother, Cha-Ron, played basketball — since

August. But that hasn’t stopped Harris from looking elsewhere.

Harris made official visits to Colorado in December and Illinois earlier this month. Notre Dame will try to do what neither school has been able to do so far: flip his commitment.

When Notre Dame’s coaching staff settled into place earlier this month, Harris became a top priority. He received an offer from the Irish on Jan. 6 and a visit from special teams coordinator Brian Polian six days later. Polian watched Harris play basketball on the first night of the contact period. It was Polian’s first day on the road recruiting for the Irish since returning to Notre Dame.

The coaching staff continued to push for Harris when Polian and defensive coordinator Mike Elko made an in-home visit Monday night. Harris represents the type of defensive end recruit that has been so elusive for Notre Dame to land and develop. He has the length (6-4) and athleticism (he also played wide receiver as a senior) that are so often requirements for elite pass rushers. The need to add strength to his frame can explain the hesitance on making him a four-star recruit.

247Sports slates Harris as the No. 28 weakside defensive end in the 2017 class. Rivals ranks him 37th at the position.

Harris totaled 34 tackles and 8.5 sacks in 10 games as a senior. He also caught 36 passes for 517 yard and six touchdowns.

The Irish will be hosting a recruit they want to continue playing wide receiver as well this weekend. Jafar Armstrong, a three-star Missouri commit, said he will arrive on Friday.

Notre Dame extended an offer to Armstrong on Jan. 10, which immediately put the Irish in contention. Despite being committed to the Tigers since June, Armstrong has entertained late interest from Notre Dame and Minnesota, where he visited last weekend.

The 6-1, 185-pound Armstrong received visits from the coaching staffs at all three schools on Wednesday. Jon Holmes, the head coach at Mission (Kan.) Bishop Miege, said Notre Dame sent head coach Brian Kelly, offensive coordinator Chip Long and wide receivers coach DelVaughn Alexander; Minnesota sent head coach P.J. Fleck, offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca and wide receivers coach Matt Simon, and Missouri sent offensive coordinator Josh Heupel and wide receivers coach Andy Hill to his school.

On Wednesday night, offensive lineman Colin Grunhard, a teammate of Armstrong’s, announced he intends to walk on at Notre Dame.

Grunhard’s father, Tim, played offensive line on Notre Dame’s 1988 national championship team, spent 10 years with the Kansas City Chiefs and currently coaches at Bishop Miege.

Armstrong’s quarterback at Bishop Miege, Carter Putz, is verbally committed to Notre Dame as a 2018 baseball recruit. Will Armstrong decide to follow his teammates to Notre Dame?

Armstrong was the most productive wide receiver in a high-powered Bishop Miege offense. He pulled in 54 passes for 1,277 yards and 21 touchdowns as the Stags (12-1) won a state championship. He finished a remarkably consistent career with 172 catches for 3,744 yards and 45 touchdowns.

Armstrong never caught fewer than 50 passes for fewer than 1,200 yards in his three seasons at the varsity level.

247Sports slates Armstrong as a four-star recruit and the No. 33 wide receiver in the 2017 class. Rivals ranks him as a three-star prospect and No. 77 at the position.

Both defensive end and wide receiver remain priority positions for Notre Dame in its 2017 class. The Irish only have one player committed in each spot: three-star defensive end Jonathon MacCollister and three-star wide receiver Michael Young.

KC➡️South Bend for my OV to Notre Dame tomorrow #Irish

— Jafar Armstrong (@jafararmstrong3) January 26, 2017

South Bend tomorrow #TicToc#GoIrish ☘️

— Jalen Harris (@JHarr8245) January 27, 2017


Twitter: @TJamesNDI

Mesa (Ariz.) Desert Ridge wide receiver Jalen Harris (8) makes a catch over Hamilton's Ezekiel Robbins (5). Harris, an Arizona defensive end commit, will visit Notre Dame this weekend. (Photo courtesy of Patrick Breen/azcentral sports)