Recruiting talent abundant in Michigan for the 2019 class

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

Michigan will always be a recruiting destination for Notre Dame.

The neighbor to the north annually produces at least a handful of four-star recruits. But competing for those recruits doesn’t come easily.

The Wolverines and Spartans typically get first choice. Ohio State and Notre Dame are frequent invaders of the state. One of those four schools usually signs the state’s top recruit.

According to Rivals, the top recruit in Michigan hasn’t signed with someone other than Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State and Notre Dame since wide receiver Ronald Johnson picked USC in 2007. Michigan State has signed the top recruit four times in that time frame ahead of Michigan (3), Notre Dame (2) and Ohio State (1).

The top recruit in the 2018 class remains up for grabs.

Detroit Cass Tech cornerback Kalon Gervin, a four-star recruit, was previously committed to Notre Dame for three months, but he backed away from that pledge in May. Gervin attended Notre Dame’s home game against Georgia earlier this month, made an official visit to Oklahoma last weekend and will be at Michigan State on Saturday.

The Irish already mined Michigan for one commitment in the 2018 class: Farmington Hills Harrison linebacker Ovie Oghoufo. The three-star recruit has been committed to Notre Dame since July 2016.

Michigan isn’t loaded with talent in the 2018 class. Aside from Gervin and Oghoufo, the Irish have offered only one other player in the class: Traverse City West offensive tackle Ryan Hayes, who committed to Michigan in May.

Rivals rates five recruits from the state at a four-star level in the 2018 class. The number of recruits in Michigan at a four-star level or higher has dipped below five only once (four in 2014) in the last seven recruiting cycles.

The state is crowded with talent in the 2019 class. Rivals pegs eight current juniors as four-star recruits. Notre Dame already has offered three of those recruits: athlete Julian Barnett, safety Marvin Grant and defensive tackle Mazi Smith.

Barnett, a 6-1, 184-pound product of Belleville High, added a Notre Dame offer during a visit in June. Alabama, Clemson, Georgia and Michigan State are among the schools on his offer list.

“Julian is a very good wide receiver and DB,” said CBS Sports Network recruiting analyst Tom Lemming. “He’s a very good athlete. He has the length that everybody likes. He’s a four-plus stars type of guy.”

247Sports slates Barnett as the No. 4 cornerback in the 2019 class. Rivals ranks him as the No. 14 wide receiver.

Grant, a 6-1, 185-pound junior at Detroit Martin Luther King, received an offer from the Irish in April. Most of Grant’s offers have come from the Midwest with Michigan, Iowa and Minnesota in the mix.

“King has some really good prospects in that class, and Grant’s probably the best guy,” Lemming said. “He’s another safety that has long arms and quick feet. He can run.”

Rivals ranks Grant as the No. 5 safety in the class. 247Sports slates him seventh.

Barnett and Grant are expected to attend Saturday’s game at Michigan State.

Smith won’t be at Saturday’s game, but he did attend the Notre Dame-Georgia game. It was his fourth visit to South Bend in less than a year. Notre Dame extended an offer to the 6-3, 290-pound junior from East Kentwood High while he was on campus in June. Alabama, Michigan, Michigan State and Wisconsin are among the early contenders in Smith’s recruitment.

“Mazi’s very good,” Lemming said. “He’s a guy that can grow into a pretty good defensive tackle. He was already 270 pounds as a freshman.”

Rivals ranks Smith as the No. 8 defensive tackle. 247Sports slates him No. 11.

Saturday’s game against Michigan State will be Notre Dame’s last chance to win a game in the state until a trip to Michigan in 2019. With talented in-state players expected to attend, it’s a great opportunity for the Irish to impress.

Notre Dame coaches can also use the weekend to attend games of those recruits on Friday night.

A little bit of extra attention can always help.

TOP RECRUITS IN MICHIGAN

The top-ranked recruit in Michigan, according to Rivals, has signed with Michigan State, Michigan, Notre Dame or Ohio State in each of the last 10 recruiting cycles.

2017 | WR Donovan Peoples-Jones – Michigan

2016 | DE Daelin Hayes – Notre Dame

2015 | RB Mike Weber – Ohio State

2014 | DL Malik McDowell – Michigan State

2013 | OL Steve Elmer – Notre Dame

2012 | WR Aaron Burbridge – Michigan State

2011 | LB Lawrence Thomas – Michigan State

2010 | DE William Gholston – Michigan State

2009 | DT William Campbell – Michigan

2008 | CB Boubacar Cissoko – Michigan

tjames@ndinsider.com

574-235-6214

Twitter: @TJamesNDI

Four-star safety Marvin Grant, a 2019 recruit, has a Notre Dame offer and will attends Saturday's game at Michigan State. (Photo courtesy of Rivals)