Familiar faces headline Notre Dame recruiting weekend

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

As Notre Dame’s football program celebrates this past season Friday night, the Irish also will have an eye on the future.

The Echoes awards show will serve as the focal point of another recruiting weekend. The annual banquet has long been the showcase recruiting event in December for Notre Dame.

With the new early signing period coming soon (Dec. 20-22), the Irish are looking to put a bow on the majority of its 2018 class. All 18 Notre Dame commits in the class have expressed plans to take advantage of the early signing period.

But there is still room for more talent in the class. The Irish will host four of their top remaining targets this weekend: wide receiver Braden Lenzy, cornerback Kyler Gordon, defensive end Malik Langham and offensive lineman Luke Jones.

They will be joined by nine 2018 commits making their official visits. This weekend should start to bring into focus how the next two months will play out for Notre Dame’s class.

• WR Braden Lenzy, 6-0, 175; Tigard (Ore.) High: Lenzy once planned to play for Notre Dame’s coaching staff, then had harsh words for those same coaches.

In a story published a month ago, Lenzy detailed some of the reasoning for flipping his commitment from Notre Dame to Oregon in June.

“The people that I planned to spend the next four or five years with, who I thought were very honorable men, completely lied to me,” Lenzy told Duck Territory, a site covering Oregon for the 247Sports network. “They got me to commit into something that wasn’t really true.”

The alleged deception involved Lenzy’s ability to run indoor and outdoor track at Notre Dame. Lenzy came to doubt how realistic the possibility would be with the Irish. He felt his pursuit of both sports would be better received at Oregon.

Now with head coach Willie Taggart leaving Oregon for the same job at Florida State, Lenzy has reopened his recruitment. That includes giving Notre Dame another chance.

Irish offensive coordinator Chip Long made an in-home visit with Lenzy on Wednesday night, which led to Lenzy setting an official visit to Notre Dame this weekend.

Clearly some relationships will need to be mended around Lenzy. It’s hard to imagine the coaching staff appreciated the lying accusations. And when Lenzy originally ditched the Irish in June, defensive tackle commit Ja’mion Franklin covered up Lenzy in a recruiting graphic depicting the 2018 class.

“Keep it moving bros,” Franklin wrote in a tweet with the image that showed Lenzy covered up by large shamrocks. “I ain’t switching up that’s facts #IrishBouND18 #GoIrish #Loyalty.”

Coincidentally, Franklin will also be making his official visit to Notre Dame this weekend.

The Irish have been looking for more speed in the class, and Lenzy, a four-star recruit, would certainly bring it.

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.

This fall, Lenzy said he accounted for roughly 1,000 yards of offense with 12 touchdowns in addition to seven interceptions as a defensive back.

247Sports slates Lenzy as the No. 4 athlete, a designation for recruits who can play multiple positions, in the 2018 class. Rivals ranks him as the No. 13 athlete.

Lenzy plans to reconsider Oregon once its coaching staff has been put into place. New UCLA head coach Chip Kelly also has been in touch with him this week.

• CB Kyler Gordon, 5-11, 180; Everett (Wash.) Archbishop Murphy: The Irish will receive a rare unofficial visit late in the recruiting process from Gordon. That’s how serious the four-star recruit is about Notre Dame.

Gordon last visited South Bend on his official visit for the Temple game in September. The Irish have always been considered a contender facing tough competition from the in-state Washington Huskies.

Convincing Gordon to make a trip on his own dime is a sign the Irish are making headway in his recruitment. Head coach Brian Kelly, defensive backs coach Todd Lyght and recruiting coordinator Brian Polian showed Gordon he was a priority by visiting with him on the second day of the contact period. Polian returned with defensive coordinator Mike Elko this past Monday.

Gordon is scheduled to fly to Notre Dame on Friday, per his mother, and spend the weekend with the Irish.

“He’s an outstanding athlete,” said CBS Sports Network recruiting analyst Tom Lemming. “He’s a guy who could come in and contribute right away. He’s a two-way player. He’s definitely one of the top two or three players in Washington.”

According to MaxPreps, Gordon rushed for 517 yards and seven touchdowns, caught 32 passes for 841 yards and 10 touchdowns, and recorded 44 tackles and five interceptions during his senior season.

247Sports slates Gordon as the No. 12 cornerback in the 2018 class. Rivals ranks him No. 25.

• DE Malik Langham, 6-6, 269; Huntsville (Ala.) Lee: A week after Notre Dame defensive line coach Mike Elston offered Langham a scholarship offer on an in-home visit, Alabama head coach Nick Saban did the same. Now the Irish will have to contend with the in-state Crimson Tide for a late-rising recruit.

The offer from Alabama didn’t dissuade Langham from sticking to his official visit to Notre Dame this weekend. Langham said he is scheduled to arrive on campus Saturday and return home Sunday.

Rarely can Notre Dame beat Auburn and Alabama to the punch on a scholarship offer in the state of Alabama. It’s a small detail the Irish can use in their favor.

“He had a good senior year,” Lemming said. “It’s good to keep on top of guys. They liked his film. He’s a guy that they believed was a sleeper. Now that Alabama offered him, he’s no longer a sleeper. That’s good scouting.”

As a senior, Langham totaled 70 tackles, 10 tackles for a loss, eight sacks, five pass deflections and two forced fumbles.

Elston returned to Huntsville on Tuesday to see Langham for the second time in the current contact period. He attended Langham’s basketball game with Vanderbilt defensive line coach C.J. Ah You also in the gym.

The Irish are looking for a second defensive end to pair with current commit Justin Ademilola in the class. Justin and his twin, Jayson, a defensive tackle commit, will both be on campus this weekend as well.

Rivals ranks Langham as the No. 38 strongside defensive end in the 2018 class. 247Sports slates him No. 44 at the position.

• OL Luke Jones, 6-6, 285; Little Rock (Ark.) Pulaski Academy: The three-star recruit will be the only Irish visitor on campus this weekend currently committed elsewhere. Jones has been pledged to Arkansas since July, but the Razorbacks fired head coach Bret Bielema following a 4-8 season. Chad Morris was named the program’s new head coach Wednesday.

Jones’ interest in Notre Dame predates Bielema’s firing. Jones attended Notre Dame’s 49-14 win over USC in October. The Irish have pushed forward with Jones being one of offensive line coach Harry Hiestand’s few remaining targets.

“He’s one of the top three players in the state. He’s a solid offensive lineman,” Lemming said. “If Harry Hiestand likes him, the kid has to be good. He turns out a lot of offensive linemen. He goes after ones he really likes. He likes this kid a lot from what I hear.”

Notre Dame’s two offensive line commits, Cole Mabry and John Dirksen, will also be on campus for official visits this weekend.

Last weekend, Jones capped an undefeated season with a fourth straight state championship for Pulaski Academy. The offense averaged 571.3 yards and 47.6 points per game in its 14 wins.

247Sports slates Jones as the No. 32 offensive tackle in the 2018 class. Rivals ranks him No. 45.

VISITORS LIST

The following recruits are expected to visit Notre Dame this weekend. All but one visitor will be making an official visit.

2018 targets

CB Kyler Gordon*

OL Luke Jones

DE Malik Langham

WR Braden Lenzy

*denotes unofficial visit

2018 commits

DT Jayson Ademilola

DE Justin Ademilola

OL John Dirksen

DT Ja'mion Franklin

WR Micah Jones

OL Cole Mabry

LB Ovie Oghoufo

ROV Shayne Simon

TE George Takacs

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

Former Notre Dame wide receiver commit Braden Lenzy is once again considering the Irish after dropping his Oregon commitment earlier this week. He will be in town for an official visit this weekend. (Photo courtesy of Tigard Times/Dan Brood)