Three-star safety D'Angelo McKenzie quickly learning about Notre Dame

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

Notre Dame had to start at square one in recruiting D’Angelo McKenzie.

The three-star safety from San Jose (Calif.) Valley Christian only started learning about the Irish when special teams coordinator Brian Polian began communicating with him.

“I really didn't know anything about Notre Dame if we're being honest,” McKenzie said.

That’s changed substantially in recent months. Notre Dame offered McKenzie in April, and he arrived in South Bend on Monday morning for a two-day visit with the Irish.

“I've learned a lot,” McKenzie said Sunday night. “I learned they're big on football. The way they treat their football players is different. I want to go out there and see what it looks like so I can know a lot more. I know the academics are really big. I like that too.”

The Irish have impressed enough to land McKenzie’s first visit of the summer. Trips to Washington State, Washington, Arizona State and Arizona remain on the itinerary with plans for a commitment coming soon.

The recruiting process has been fairly fast for the 6-foot, 182-pound McKenzie. His first Division I scholarship offer came from UCLA in February. Soon after that, he made visits to UCLA and USC. Now he has a handful of FBS options to choose from despite a relatively low ranking from recruiting services.

Rivals pegs McKenzie as the No. 76 prospect in California for the 2018 class but did not include him in its list of the top 50 safeties nationally. 247Sports slates him as the No. 56 safety in the class.

Notre Dame has been looking to add another safety to the 2018 class in addition to highly touted Georgia product Derrik Allen. The transfer of sophomore Navy safety Alohi Gilman in June aided the Irish depth chart, but likely won’t be the end of Notre Dame’s search for help at the position.

Defensive coordinator Mike Elko stopped by Valley Christian in the spring, McKenzie said, and Polian has made Notre Dame’s interest clear.

“(Polian) really likes that I'm kind of an underdog kid,” McKenzie said. “I'm not your typical big safety guy, but I'm the right size. He likes the way I perform on the field and the heart and effort I put out."

A commitment from McKenzie seems unlikely until after he makes all his planned visits. But scheduling an unofficial visit to Notre Dame should be a good sign for the Irish.

“I really like the love that they're showing, and I really like coach Polian,” McKenzie said, “so I wanted to get out here and see the school.”

Had a great visit today at Notre Dame #GoIrish ☘️☘️

— D'Angelo k. Mckenzie (@d_young_king) July 10, 2017 | 574-235-6214 | Twitter: @TJamesNDI

Three-star safety D'Angelo McKenzie, a 2018 recruit, is visiting Notre Dame on Monday and Tuesday of this week. (Photo courtesy of Rivals)