WR Jafar Armstrong, K Jonathan Doerer flip commitments to Notre Dame

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

Flip season has finally started to work in Notre Dame’s favor.

After losing verbal commitments from six different football recruits in the 2017 class over the past year, the Irish have successfully swayed three commitment flips in their direction over a four-day span.

The latest came Sunday when wide receiver Jafar Armstrong and kicker Jonathan Doerer switched their commitments to Notre Dame. Both Armstrong (Missouri) and Doerer (Maryland) entered the weekend committed to other programs, but ditched their previous pledges following official visits in South Bend with the Irish.

They each took to Twitter to announce their new decisions.

“Next year I will be attending the University of Notre Dame #IRISHEL17E,” Armstrong wrote in part of his tweet.

“After some recent talks with my family and people whose opinion I hold in high esteem, I have decided that it would be in my best interest to decommit from UMD and spend the next 4 years of my life at the University of Notre Dame,” Doerer said in a tweeted statement.

The commitments from Armstrong and Doerer give Notre Dame 18 recruits in its 2017 class with five already enrolled in classes and 13 set to sign with the Irish on Wednesday’s National Signing Day. The class grew to 16 on Thursday when safety Jordan Genmark Heath flipped his commitment from California to Notre Dame.

The 6-foot-1, 185-pound Armstrong essentially replaces the lost commitment of three-star wide receiver Jordan Pouncey, who ditched the Irish last month. Notre Dame was left with only one wide receiver in the class — three-star recruit Michael Young — prior to Armstrong’s arrival.

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.

In three varsity seasons at Mission (Kan.) Bishop Miege, Armstrong consistently produced at a high level. He finished with at least 50 catches and 1,200 yards in each season. His senior year of 54 receptions for 1,277 yards and 21 touchdowns capped his career totals at 172 catches for 3,744 yards and 45 touchdowns.

“Notre Dame needs athletes, and he’s a good athlete,” said CBS Sports Network recruiting analyst Tom Lemming. “Jafar’s a good, steady ballplayer. Good hands, average speed, decent size.”

Armstrong did not respond to interview requests Sunday night, but he captured his feelings in a tweet.

“God is so great, i’m going to be playing football for notre dame like this is crazy it feels like a dream,” Armstrong wrote.

At Notre Dame, Armstrong should be joined by familiar faces. His quarterback, Carter Putz, is a 2018 baseball recruit verbally committed to the Irish. Another teammate, offensive lineman Colin Grunhard, plans to walk on at Notre Dame. Grunhard’s father, Tim, played offensive line on Notre Dame’s 1988 national championship and currently coaches at Bishop Miege.

Notre Dame’s recruitment of Doerer developed within the last week. Doerer said special teams coordinator Brian Polian reached out to him looking for a kicker who could compete to be the kickoff specialist this fall.

The Irish hadn’t offered any kickers in the 2017 class prior to offering Doerer. With Doerer and Yoon, the Irish will have two scholarship kickers on the roster for the first time since 2013.

“It came out of nowhere,” Doerer said. “But it processed real quickly, and I was able to get on the plane and see what Notre Dame’s all about.”

The 6-3, 188-pound Doerer said he made nine of his 16 field goal attempts with a long of 44 yards during his senior season at Charlotte (N.C.) South Mecklenburg. His kickoffs resulted in touchbacks 92 percent of the time.

Chris Sailer, a coach for many of the top kickers in the country, has worked with Doerer since he was a freshman. He ranks Doerer as the No. 3 kicker in the 2017 class.

“He’s fantastic,” Sailer said. “Currently we have him ranked No. 3 in the nation, but he could very easily challenge for the No. 1 spot. He’s big. He’s athletic. He has incredible leg strength. He has great technique. He’s really everything you look for in a scholarship-type, big-time, college kicker.”

Both Rivals and 247Sports rate Doerer as a two-star recruit.

“Like any young kicker, he has to work on consistency,” Sailer said. “That would be the one thing — like any player — he has to work on. Kickoffs are a major strength of his. He crushes kickoffs.”

With the commitments of Armstrong and Doerer, Notre Dame moved up to No. 13 in 2017 class rankings from 247Sports. Rivals ranks the Irish class No. 14.

Notre Dame might not be able to push itself back into the top 10, but the Irish could land a respectable finish if a few more recruits come to the same decision as Armstrong and Doerer.

“The opportunity of elite academics and elite athletics was too much for me to pass up,” Doerer said. “Once I was able to see that on my visit, I was ready to go.” | 574-235-6214 | Twitter: @TJamesNDI

All glory goes to God

Next year I will be attending the University of Notre Dame

— Jafar Armstrong (@jafararmstrong3) January 29, 2017

God Country Notre Dame☘️

— Jonathan Doerer (@JDoerer_11) January 30, 2017

Wide receiver recruit Jafar Armstrong announced a commitment to Notre Dame on Sunday. (Photo courtesy of Rivals)
Kicker Jonathan Doerer flipped his commitment from Maryland to Notre Dame on Sunday, Jan. 29. (Photo courtesy of Chris Sailer Kicking)