Notre Dame hosting top 2018 TE recruit Jeremy Ruckert

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

Notre Dame lived up to its reputation as “Tight End U” in the 2017 recruiting class by signing two of the country's top prospects at the position.

Now the Irish are hard at work trying to extend the tradition to 2018.

On Thursday, four-star tight end Jeremy Ruckert is expected to visit Notre Dame. The trip will come a day after freshman tight end Brock Wright, a four-star recruit, made his debut in spring practice. He’ll be joined by fellow four-star signee Cole Kmet in June.

The talented duo of Wright and Kmet hasn’t prevented the Irish from targeting top tight ends in the 2018 class. The 6-foot-5, 229-pound Ruckert is one of only seven tight ends in the class reporting Notre Dame offers.

When Ruckert added a Notre Dame offer in October, he was in the middle of a junior season at Lindenhurst (N.Y.) High that included 58 receptions for 807 yards and eight touchdowns. He’s established himself as a target for many of the top programs in the country.

“He’s a very good player,” CBS Sports Network recruiting analyst Tom Lemming said. “One of the top three or four tight ends in the country. He’s a major catch if Notre Dame can get him.”

247Sports slates Ruckert as the No. 1 tight end and No. 33 overall in the 2018 class. Rivals ranks him fifth at the position.

“He’s got a great frame. Good hands. He runs well,” Lemming said. “The competition level is weak out there in Long Island, but he’s a really good athlete. He has the frame to weigh around 250. He’s a polished ballplayer who can run, catch and block.”

Ruckert released his top five schools via Twitter on the final day of 2016. Florida State, Alabama, Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio State all made the list. But Ruckert noted at that time that his trip to Notre Dame in March could change his order.

After visiting Notre Dame, Ruckert is scheduled to see Wisconsin on Friday. He will be the first tight end target to visit Notre Dame in 2017.

Ruckert was one of five tight ends to receive Notre Dame offers last year with Scott Booker as tight ends coach. Zack Kuntz, a four-star tight end from Camp Hill, Pa., became the first to receive an offer, but he gave Penn State his verbal commitment in November.

“I thought Zack Kuntz was a little bit more of an athlete,” Lemming said, “but Ruckert is a football player.”

With Booker gone and new offensive coordinator Chip Long taking over the tight end position, Ruckert has remained a priority. Long has offered only two more tight ends since arriving at Notre Dame: Penn State commit Pat Freiermuth and three-star recruit George Takacs. Both Freiermuth and Takacs visited the Irish last year.

Notre Dame’s hot recruiting start in the 2018 class has produced 11 early commitments. The next few months should inform the Irish where they stand at tight end.

TIGHT END TARGETS

The following 2018 recruits have reported Notre Dame offers.

• Zack Kuntz, 6-7, 215; Camp Hill (Pa.) High.

Rivals: Four stars, No. 1 TE. | 247Sports: Four stars, No. 2 TE.

• Jeremy Ruckert, 6-5, 229; Lindenhurst (N.Y.) High.

247Sports: Four stars, No. 1 TE. | Rivals: Four stars, No. 5 TE.

• Pat Freiermuth, 6-5, 250; North Andover (Mass.) Brooks School.

Rivals: Four stars, No. 2 TE. | 247Sports: Four stars, No. 5 TE.

• Mustapha Muhammad, 6-4, 213; Missouri City (Texas) Ridge Point.

247Sports: Four stars, No. 6 TE. | Rivals: Four stars, No. 14 TE.

• Will Mallory, 6-5, 210; Jacksonville (Fla.) Providence.

247Sports: Four stars, No. 10 TE. | Rivals: Four stars, No. 13 TE. 

• Judge Culpepper, 6-5, 245; Tampa (Fla.) Plant.

Rivals: Four stars, No. 11 TE. | 247Sports: Three stars, No. 19 TE.

• George Takacs, 6-6, 235; Naples (Fla.) Gulf Coast.

247Sports: Three stars, No. 16 TE. | Rivals: Three stars, No. 35 TE.

tjames@ndinsider.com | 574-235-6214 | Twitter: @TJamesNDI

Four-star recruit Jeremy Ruckert, the No. 1 tight end in the 2018 class according to 247Sports, is scheduled to visit Notre Dame on Thursday. (Photo courtesy of Rivals)