2018 WR Braden Lenzy flips commitment from Notre Dame to Oregon

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

The fickle game of football recruiting lashed out at Notre Dame again Wednesday.

Braden Lenzy, a four-star wide receiver recruit, flipped his commitment from Notre Dame to Oregon. He announced the news on Twitter.

"First I would like to thank the Notre Dame staff, players, commits, and fans for all the love and support they have shown me," Lenzy wrote as part of a tweeted statement. "In the interest of my future in both football and track I have decided to decommit from Notre Dame. It was a very difficult decision, but one that was best for me.

"This isn't a reflection of the University of Notre Dame at all. Notre Dame is a first class University and I wish them nothing but success."

The 6-foot, 175-pound product of Tigard (Ore.) High had been verbally committed to play football and run track for the Irish since February. On the surface, little has changed at Notre Dame since his original commitment, but Lenzy decided to change his mind.

Lenzy’s departure momentarily left Notre Dame with 11 commitments in the 2018 class and only one wide receiver, Micah Jones, in the group. The Irish signed two players at the position in the 2017 class: Michael Young and Jafar Armstrong. Notre Dame’s class grew back to 12 later Wednesday night with a commitment from tight end George Takacs.

Notre Dame was always going to have to fend off Oregon in Lenzy’s recruitment. Other than Lenzy being a home-state recruit, his father, Melvin, also works for Nike.

The sports-industry giant has its world headquarters in Beaverton, Ore., and Nike co-founder Phil Knight has donated hundreds of millions of dollars to the university. According to a LinkedIn page, Melvin Lenzy serves as a senior global brand director for Nike.

Braden Lenzy visited Oregon for its spring game in late April, the first sign that he hadn’t completely shut down his recruitment. But at the time, Lenzy told the Tribune he remained “100 percent” committed to Notre Dame.

The Irish became far too familiar with losing commitments in the 2017 recruiting cycle. Six recruits who had previously given Notre Dame their verbal commitments ended up signing elsewhere. But following a 4-8 season, such fallout in a class is hardly unexpected.

What may be most maddening for Notre Dame’s coaching staff is the loss of two commitments in such a short timeframe. The Irish sped ahead at an unusually fast pace in the 2018 class by adding 12 commitments by March 25. Since then, the Irish have lost pledges from Lenzy and four-star cornerback Kalon Gervin. Neither commitment lasted longer than four months.

Some of Notre Dame’s commits weren’t afraid to express their frustration Wednesday night.

“Too many flaky people,” Irish quarterback commit Phil Jurkovec tweeted shortly after Lenzy’s news broke.

Defensive tackle Ja’mion Franklin, Notre Dame’s newest commitment, went as far as to cover up Lenzy with a pair of shamrocks in an edited illustration of Notre Dame’s 2018 class that was designed when Franklin committed last week.

Long-time linebacker commit Ovie Oghoufo took the high road. “it’s more than football. it’s a family thing. #WeAreND,” he tweeted.

So what changed for Gervin and Lenzy? Both declined interview requests at the time of their commitment changes. Gervin recently released a top five list that included Oregon, Oklahoma, Michigan State, Louisville and Virginia Tech.

Lenzy’s desire to run track is well known, and Oregon’s track and field program has had much more recent success than Notre Dame’s. The men’s team for the Ducks finished ninth at the NCAA outdoor championships earlier this month. Notre Dame didn’t register a point.

Lenzy repeated as Oregon’s Class 6A 400-meter dash state champion earlier this year with a time of 47.92 seconds. He finished second in the 200 with a 21.73 and fourth in the 100 with a 10.76.

“To make this clear.. I don't like football or track more.. I love them both equally! #GoDucks,” Lenzy tweeted later Wednesday night.

Before Lenzy publicly announced his commitment change Wednesday, the Irish were active recruiting other receivers. Having likely already received word privately, Notre Dame’s new offers make more sense in retrospect.

Kobe Smith and Geordon Porter, both three-star receivers from California, reported Notre Dame offers earlier in the day. Speed will likely be a priority in replacing Lenzy. Porter clocked a 10.68 in the 100 last month.

The summer should include more additions rather than subtractions for Notre Dame with the Irish Invasion kicking off camp season in South Bend last weekend, but Lenzy’s flip provided another lesson in how unpredictable the path to signing day can be.

I'm Committed to THE University of Oregon

— Braden Lenzy (@blspeedy21) June 14, 2017

it's more than football.

it's a family thing.#WeAreND

— Ovie Oghoufo (@OvieOghoufo) June 14, 2017

Too many flaky people

— Phil Jurkovec (@pjurkovec) June 14, 2017

Keep it moving bros I ain't switching up that's facts

— #55GoLive (@Jamion_Franklin) June 14, 2017

You was never gang gang, you was never one of us ☘️..

— ㅤ (@CjHo1mes) June 14, 2017 574-235-6214 Twitter: @TJamesNDI

Notre Dame wide receiver signee Braden Lenzy (pictured) and safety signee Paul Moala will play in Saturday's Polynesian Bowl. (Photo courtesy of The Oregonian/PETE CHRISTOPHER)