A look at Notre Dame's remaining recruiting targets in 2018 class

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

The holiday recruiting slumber has ended.

On Friday, the NCAA calendar for college football recruiting shifted from a dead period to the final contact period that will lead into National Signing Day on Feb. 7. Coaching staffs can once again visit with senior prospects and host those recruits on campus.

The next few weeks should be less stressful than usual for Notre Dame with 21 recruits submitting their National Letter of Intent during the first early signing period in December. Now unsigned prospects must wait until Feb. 7 to sign

That includes three-star offensive lineman Luke Jones, who committed to Notre Dame on Dec. 27. Retaining his pledge in the wake of offensive line coach Harry Hiestand’s departure should be a priority for the Irish.

On Dec. 20, head coach Brian Kelly listed defensive back, offensive line and best player available as the top priorities left to pursue. Following new offers and continued communication, the best players available could come at wide receiver, defensive tackle, defensive end and linebacker.

Here’s a closer look at the 10 remaining targets the Irish appear to be juggling.

• CB Noah Boykin, 6-2, 168; Washington (D.C.) H.D. Woodson: Boykin remains verbally committed to Maryland after choosing not to sign with the Terrapins last month. Could that delay work in Notre Dame’s favor? The Irish have continued to be a consistent threat since the four-star recruit made an official visit to Notre Dame for the N.C. State game.

Kelly could use an in-home visit in the coming weeks to try to close on a commitment flip from Boykin. Defensive backs coach Todd Lyght made multiple visits to see Boykin during the December contact period. 

Boykin still has one official visit available after using the first four at Notre Dame, Virginia, USC and Maryland. After receiving an in-home visit from new Florida head coach Dan Mullen, Boykin will use that last official visit with the Gators. 

Rivals: Four stars, No. 20 CB. | 247Sports: Four stars, No. 26 CB.

• DB Julius Irvin, 6-2, 181; Anaheim (Calif.) Servite: Irvin planned to sign with Notre Dame, USC or Washington in December, but he pushed back the decision due to a family emergency. Irvin’s situation would seem to increase the importance of staying close to home, but Notre Dame shouldn’t see it as a reason to stop recruiting him.

The hold in Irvin’s recruitment has opened the door for other programs to get involved too. Florida extended an offer on Christmas Eve, and Penn State joined his offer list last week. The Irish will have their hands full trying to close Irvin’s recruitment.

Rivals: Four stars, No. 8 S. | 247Sports: Four stars, No. 17 S.

• CB Taiyon Palmer, 5-11, 177; Lawrenceville (Ga.) Archer: Palmer became Notre Dame’s newest defensive back target by extending an offer Thursday. Louisville and Syracuse joined Palmer’s offer list earlier in the week, and Clemson did the same hours after Notre Dame.

All the action followed a busy December for Palmer that included offers from N.C. State, Nebraska and Northwestern and an official visit to Vanderbilt. On Nov. 30, Palmer ended his 14-month commitment to Duke.

His second official visit went to Nebraska this past weekend with N.C. State tentatively on the schedule for next weekend.

247Sports: Four stars, No. 20 CB. | Rivals: Three stars, No. 50 CB.

• OL Nicholas Petit-Frere, 6-6, 260; Tampa (Fla.) Berkeley Prep: Notre Dame’s recruiting momentum with Petit-Frere could stall out with Hiestand leaving the Irish to rejoin the Chicago Bears. But running backs coach Autry Denson has been involved in Petit-Frere’s recruitment as well, and he could help the Irish stay in the running until a new offensive line coach is hired. Michigan, also seen as a top contender for Petit-Frere, lost an offensive line coach too when Greg Frey took a job at Florida State.

The Irish, Wolverines and Seminoles could all be factors in Petit-Frere’s recruitment. Just don’t expect him to say much about it. The tight-lipped lineman gives few hints on the direction he’s leaning.

Petit-Frere will reportedly spend the next three weekends making official visits to Alabama, Florida and Ohio State. He used official visits to Notre Dame and Michigan in the fall.

247Sports: Five stars, No. 1 OT. | Rivals: Four stars, No. 7 OT.

• OL Jarrett Patterson, 6-5, 275; Mission Viejo (Calif.) High: Patterson seemed destined to visit Notre Dame in short order after receiving an offer on Tuesday. Then the news of Hiestand’s departure came a day later. Now Patterson is still sorting out if a visit will happen.

If not for the Irish, Patterson seemed likely to commit to either UCLA or Michigan. He made official visits to both schools in December shortly after dropping his pledge to Arizona State.

247Sports: Four stars, No. 16 OT. | Rivals: Three stars, No. 34 OT.

• WR Lawrence Keys, 5-11, 160; New Orleans McDonogh 35: Next weekend, Notre Dame will host Keys for his first official visit. The three-star recruit will then take official visits to Houston and SMU the next two weekends.

That competition would seem to indicate a very winnable battle for Notre Dame. LSU had always loomed as the program that could ruin ND’s chances, but the Tigers have already signed three wide receivers including Terrace Marshall, a five-star recruit according to Rivals.

All things considered, Notre Dame has to feel pretty good about where it sits with Keys. The Irish are no longer pursuing Tommy Bush, leaving Keys as the lone target to become the fourth wide receiver in Notre Dame’s class.

247Sports: Three stars, No. 68 WR. | Rivals: Three stars, not in Top 100 WR list.

• DT Moro Ojomo, 6-3, 265; Katy (Texas) High: Few recruits have seen their recruitment blow up more than Ojomo since the beginning of December. His offer list elevated with Texas, Texas A&M, Tennessee, Oregon, Notre Dame, Nebraska, Virginia, Oklahoma and Miami all deciding to join the mix.

Fortunately for Ojomo, he had all five official visits left to help him sift through his options. Oklahoma hosted Ojomo for his first official visit this weekend. The Irish are up next on Saturday.

247Sports: Three stars, No 28 DT. | Rivals: Three stars, No. 60 DT.

• DT Otito Ogbonnia, 6-4, 290; Katy (Texas) Taylor: One day before Ojomo received his offer from Notre Dame, the Irish extended one in the same city to Ogbonnia. And like Ojomo, Ogbonnia has been the target of several schools in the last two months. In addition to Notre Dame, Ogbonnia landed offers from UCLA, Tennessee, Nebraska and Oklahoma State.

Ogbonnia used an official visit to Ole Miss in November.

247Sports: Three stars, No. 40 DT. | Rivals: Three stars, not in top 60 DT list.

• DE Malik Langham, 6-6, 269; Huntsville (Ala.) Lee: When Notre Dame extended a scholarship offer to Langham in late November, the Irish appeared to have found an under-the-radar defensive end option in the middle of Alabama. The three-star recruit isn’t hiding from anyone now.

A week after the Irish offered, Alabama did the same. Then Tennessee, Florida, Oregon and Miami followed suit. Notre Dame received Langham’s first official visit back in December, but the Irish will have to hope they did enough on that first trip as he visits other schools.

Langham spent the weekend at Vanderbilt and plans to spend the next three weekends on official visits to Alabama, Florida and Tennessee.

Rivals: Three stars, No. 38 SDE. | 247Sports: Three stars, No. 45 SDE.

• LB Solomon Tuliaupupu, 6-2, 218; Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei: Convincing Tuliaupupu to leave the West Coast has always been a long shot, but the Irish have made a lasting impression on the four-star recruit. The promotion of linebackers coach Clark Lea to defensive coordinator can only help. Tuliaupupu brought up Lea unprompted when asked about Notre Dame earlier this month.

Tuliaupupu used his official visit to Notre Dame in October and saw the Irish beat USC. Tuliaupupu spent this past weekend at UCLA. Oklahoma, Ohio State and USC are fighting for his last two official visits.

Rivals: Four stars, No. 3 ILB. | 247Sports: Four stars, No. 4 ILB.

tjames@ndinsider.com

574-235-6214

Twitter: @TJamesNDI

Four-star defensive back Julius Irvin, a 2018 recruit, is one of Notre Dame's top remaining targets. (Photo courtesy of Student Sports)