Notebook: Notre Dame, Oregon in the race for WR recruit Chase Cota

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

BEAVERTON, Ore. – All signs point to Chase Cota staying in Oregon.

The Ducks clearly want the four-star wide receiver recruit, and they’re not afraid to use his family as part of the pull.

Cota’s father, Chad, finished his Oregon career as an All-American safety and the team’s MVP in the 1994 season which ended with a Ducks trip to the Rose Bowl for the first time in 37 years. Following that legacy is a part of Oregon’s push for Chase Cota.

The Ducks went a step further and extended a scholarship offer to Cota’s younger brother, Carson, who won’t start high school until later this year.

So how does Notre Dame, nearly 2,000 miles away from South Medford (Ore.) High, try to pull Chase Cota away? It starts with special teams coordinator Brian Polian, who has a connection of his own to the Cota family.

When Chad Cota finished his Oregon career, he was drafted by the Carolina Panthers. The general manager of that team? Bill Polian, the father of the Notre Dame assistant coach.

“I really like (Brian) Polian,” Chase Cota said. “His dad drafted my dad in the NFL, and then it came full circle and now he's recruiting me. We're just honest with each other. He said, 'I respect your dad too much to feed you anything bad. I know your dad respects me too much for you to B.S. with me too.’ We have a good relationship.”

Notre Dame had another voice in Cota’s ear in the form of fellow four-star receiver Braden Lenzy. The Tigard (Ore.) High product was previously committed to Notre Dame before flipping to the Ducks in June. Now Lenzy is trying to pull Cota to Oregon.

“I keep in touch with a couple of the other (ND) commits too,” Cota said. “They're all great guys. Braden would never talk bad about Notre Dame. He loves all those guys.

“It's just funny because I have a group message with a couple guys, and Braden was recruiting us hard to Notre Dame. Now he's recruiting us hard to Oregon. I just give him a hard time about that. He's a great guy."

The 6-foot-4, 195-pound Cota has become a hot commodity on the recruiting trail. After a junior season with 42 receptions for 754 yards and 10 touchdowns, and strong camp performances, Cota became a national recruit.

247Sports slates Cota as the No. 13 wide receiver and No. 77 overall in the 2018 class. Rivals ranks him No. 38 at the position and No. 194 overall.

Shortly before arriving at Nike World Headquarters for The Opening Finals, Cota released a list of seven schools leading his recruitment: USC, California, UCLA, Alabama, Georgia, Oregon and Notre Dame.

The Irish cemented themselves as a contender when he visited for the Blue-Gold Game in April. But it’s going to take a major fight to overcome Oregon.

"I really liked the (ND) campus. It reminded me a lot of Oregon actually,” Cota said. “It kind of felt like home. It reminded me of Bend, which is just like a bunch of trees and stuff. It's funny because it's South Bend. Just all around, it was nice to talk to academic advisors and see the opportunity really is what everybody says it is."

Push for Bush

Before he received a scholarship offer from Notre Dame, wide receiver Tommy Bush already had the Irish on his radar.

The offer, which eventually came in February, and subsequent communication with offensive coordinator Chip Long and wide receivers coach DelVaughn Alexander, has continued to make Notre Dame relevant for Bush.

“Because I've seen them on TV before, I already knew about the tradition,” Bush said. “I saw (former wide receiver) Will Fuller. That's when I really started paying attention to them, because he exploded in that offense. When they gave me the offer, I started talking to coach Long and coach Alexander more and more. That's when I started to become interested in seeing what they're doing."

Interested, yes, but enough to lead to a visit to South Bend?

"It would be tough to say right now,” Bush said. “We're still planning it out. But they're a great school, so I wouldn't be surprised if I do take an official visit there."

The 6-5, 187-pound Bush attends the same high school — Schertz (Texas) Clemens — that sent defensive end Kolin Hill to Notre Dame in 2014. Hill left the Irish for Texas Tech following his freshman season.

Keeping Bush away from the major programs in the Lone Star State will be a tall task. In addition to offers from Baylor, Texas and Texas A&M, the likes of Alabama, LSU, Oklahoma, UCLA and USC are vying for his commitment.

Rivals ranks Bush as a four-star recruit and the No. 52 wide receiver in the 2018 class. 247Sports slates him as a three-star recruit and No. 56 at the position.

Slipping with Smith

A return visit to Notre Dame always seemed to be in the works for four-star defensive end Tyreke Smith, but he never found his way back to South Bend.

When the Cleveland Heights senior unveiled his top five schools Friday, Notre Dame was also nowhere to be found.

The 6-foot-3, 260-pound Smith named Alabama, Ohio State, Oregon, USC and Penn State in his top five. The Buckeyes appear to be heavy favorites. Notre Dame, who hosted him for the Michigan State game last September, originally made Smith’s top 12 in April.

Rivals ranks Smith as the No. 7 strongside defensive end in the 2018 class. 247Sports slates him as the No. 8 weakside defensive end.

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

Four-star wide receiver Chase Cota, a 2018 recruit, will be hard to pull away from Oregon. (Photo courtesy of Student Sports)