Notre Dame's Irish Invasion features potential future commitments

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

Irish Invasion started as Notre Dame’s premier summer football camp.

By design, it has morphed into the biggest recruiting event of the summer in South Bend. And it can no longer be contained to a single day.

This year’s Irish Invasion will still include an invite-only football camp Saturday night, but the recruiting festivities will carry on throughout the weekend. Recruits started arriving on campus as early as Thursday and some top targets will still be rolling into town come Monday.

The camp, which took on its current form in 2014, remains the main event of the weekend. Recruits will take the field inside Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday night — the event is closed to the public — to learn from Notre Dame’s coaching staff and hope to catch their eye.

The group of more than 60 players will include recruits already committed to Notre Dame, some of the top targets for the Irish in the 2018 and 2019 classes and other players trying to prove themselves as someone to watch.

The weekend will also include time for recruits to take tours of Notre Dame’s campus, the academic and athletic facilities and spend time with Irish coaches and players.

The Irish Invasion has turned into a reliable commitment factory for Notre Dame. The last three signing classes have included 17 recruits who eventually committed to Notre Dame after attending an Irish Invasion.

Several of the visitors this weekend could also end up signing with the Irish. The expected visitors list includes six current Irish commits and 12 more targets with scholarship offers.

Top talent

Notre Dame will draw talent from all over the country for the Irish Invasion, but two of the most important visitors will come from New Jersey and play at positions of need.

• ROV Shayne Simon, 6-3, 210; Jersey City (N.J.) St. Peter’s Prep: Notre Dame would like to welcome a trio of St. Peter’s Prep recruits into its 2018 class. The Irish already have commitments from twin defensive linemen Jayson and Justin Ademilola. This weekend, the Ademilolas are visiting with their teammate, Simon. The group arrived in South Bend on Friday and managed to get a picture with Irish legend Jerome Bettis, who was at Notre Dame earlier this week.

Simon, a four-star recruit, already visited Notre Dame in April as part of a cross-country swing that also included stops at Ohio State, Michigan, Stanford and UCLA. Can the Irish gain more momentum in his return visit?

Few recruits in the 2018 class fit the profile of a rover, a linebacker/safety hybrid in new coordinator Mike Elko’s scheme, better than Simon. He’s drawn rave reviews as a prospect at either position.

“He’s a big-time guy,” said CBS Sports Network recruiting analyst Tom Lemming. “He’s one of the best safeties in the country. Notre Dame needs defensive back help, so I would imagine that’s Mike Elko’s and (defensive backs coach) Todd Lyght’s No. 1 guy.”

247Sports slates Simon as the No. 6 outside linebacker in the 2018 class. Rivals ranks him ninth at the position.

• DE Jayson Oweh, 6-5, 236; Blairstown (N.J.) Blair Academy: Any time a four-star defensive end visits Notre Dame, he instantly becomes noteworthy. Oweh’s high school football résumé includes only one season, but he already has drawn attention from top college football programs.

Oweh’s recruitment caught fire this spring, and the Irish joined the fray with an offer in May. Late last month, Oweh named his top 10 offers: Notre Dame, Ohio State, Penn State, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, Vanderbilt, Rutgers and Harvard.

The size and speed of Oweh trumps his inexperience. At Nike’s The Opening Regional in New Jersey, Oweh was clocked at 4.63 seconds in the 40-yard dash.

“That’s the kind of guy (defensive line coach) Mike Elston is looking for on the defensive line,” Lemming said. “It doesn’t matter how many stars you have. It matters what your projection is, and he’s an athlete.”

247Sports slates Oweh as the No. 10 strongside defensive end in the 2018 class. Rivals ranks him at No. 12.

Next commit?

Odds are at least a few Irish Invasion weekend visitors will end up in Notre Dame’s recruiting class. These three might be the top contenders.

• CB D.J. Johnson, 6-0, 170; Indianapolis North Central: Notre Dame needs cornerbacks in the 2018 class, and the Irish found one they like down U.S. 31. Johnson and the coaching staff can measure each other up this weekend in a return visit.

Johnson, who received an offer in May, attended a pair of Notre Dame home games last season.

247Sports slates him as a four-star recruit and the No. 29 cornerback in the 2018 class. Rivals ranks him as a three-star prospect and the No. 37 cornerback.

• LB Cameron McGrone, 6-1, 210; Indianapolis Lawrence Central: McGrone maintained his status as a four-star recruit despite tearing the ACL in his right knee at the end of last season. After months of rehab, McGrone has been cleared for competition and continues to impress.

McGrone, who received a Notre Dame offer in May, was at an Irish practice in April and attended the Notre Dame-Stanford game last season. A day after his Irish offer, McGrone landed an invite to The Opening Finals, an elite national camp at Nike World Headquarters.

247Sports slates McGrone as the No. 9 outside linebacker in the 2018 class. Rivals ranks him 16th at the position.

• TE George Takacs, 6-6, 235; Naples (Fla.) Gulf Coast: A year ago, Takacs competed in the Irish Invasion as an under-the-radar prospect in the 2018 class. Takacs won’t attend the camp portion again this weekend, but he’ll make a return visit following the Rivals Five-Star Challenge in Indianapolis.

Notre Dame gave Takacs a scholarship offer in March and has emerged as a major contender in the months since. He visited South Bend for a spring practice later that month. Takacs has talent the Irish covet and family ties to the area.

Rivals ranks Takacs as a four-star recruit and the No. 10 tight end in the 2018 class. 247Sports slates him as a three-star recruit and the No. 14 tight end.

Future stars

The Irish Invasion will feature a number of 2019 recruits hoping to make an impression on Notre Dame’s coaches, but these three rising juniors already have landed on the national radar.

• S Brian Williams, 6-1, 195; Dallas Bishop Dunne: The top safety in the 2019 class, per 247Sports, attends the same high school that sent cornerback Nick Watkins to Notre Dame. The Irish are frequently in the market for talented safeties, and this one fits the profile.

• LB Shane Lee, 6-0, 236; Baltimore St. Francis: Lee played his sophomore season with Notre Dame’s incoming freshman defensive end Kofi Wardlow at St. John’s College in Washington, D.C., but he has since transferred. The Irish have recruited well in the area in the past several months, which included an offer to the four-star recruit in March. 247Sports slates him as the No. 3 inside linebacker in the class.

• TE Austin Stogner, 6-6, 222; Plano (Texas) Prestonwood Christian: Texas has been kind to Notre Dame for tight end recruiting in recent years, and the Irish already have identified a target in the stats for the 2019 class. 247Sports slates Stogner, who added a Notre Dame offer in April, as the No. 3 tight end in the country.

• DE George Karlaftis, 6-4, 243; West Lafayette (Ind.) High: The four-star recruit recorded 113 tackles and 13 sacks as a sophomore and landed firmly on Notre Dame’s radar. Karlaftis, the No. 22 strongside defensive end per 247Sports, described Notre Dame as one of his dream schools after receiving an offer in April.

VISITORS LIST

The following recruits are expected to visit Notre Dame at some point this weekend for the Irish Invasion.

2018 commits

DT Jayson Ademilola

DE Justin Ademilola

DB Derrik Allen*

LB Bo Bauer

QB Phil Jurkovec*

RB Markese Stepp

2018 targets

S Trey Dean*

CB D.J. Johnson

LB Cameron McGrone

DE Jayson Oweh

R Shayne Simon

TE George Takacs*

LB Channing Tindall^

2019 targets

S Litchfield Ajavon*

DE George Karlaftis

LB Shane Lee*

TE Austin Stogner*

DB Brian Williams

2018 prospects

OL Quinton Barrow

OL Sean Boles

S Isaiah Bowser

S Luke Cameron

OL Will Christopher

OL Hunter Dauparas

OL Trevor Dilley

OL Tyden Ferris

LB John Kelly III

OL Nick Marozas

S Paul Moala

CB Chris Nash

CB Byron Perkins

CB Kelton Stockton

ATH Reese Taylor

OL Carlos Vettorello

CB Taj Ward

OL/DL Tyler Willman

CB Avery Young

2019 prospects

RB John Branham Jr.

S Sebastian Castro

LB William Chapman

CB Anthony Coleman

DE Aeneas DiCosmo

WR Mekel Ealy

LB Osita Ekwonu

WR RJ Erb

QB Ty Evans

WR Isaac Guerendo

LB Richie Hagarty

S Myles Heard

QB Ryan Hilinski

RB Sampson James

S Jalen Lockett

WR Michael Love

QB Peyton Matocha

ATH Josh McKenzie

TE Duke Olges

RB Treyson Potts

QB Ashton Ruszkowski

WR Ainias Smith

S Corey Thomas

QB Paul Tyson

WR Kyren Williams

RB Aaron Young

WR Craig Young

2021 prospects

LB Yanni Karlaftis

QB Ron Powlus

*Visiting Sunday or Monday

^Visited Thursday

Four-star recruit Shayne Simon, a rover target, will be one of Notre Dame's most important visitors for Irish Invasion weekend. (Photo courtesy of Rivals)