Trio of 2018 targets set to visit Notre Dame as signing day approaches

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

With only two weekends remaining before National Signing Day on Feb. 7, Notre Dame continues to line up last-chance visitors.

The Irish will host three more 2018 targets this weekend. All three are committed to other programs: running back C’Borius Flemister (Georgia Tech), defensive end Derrick Eason (N.C. State) and cornerback DJ Brown (Virginia).

Fortunately for Notre Dame, all three opted to pass on the early signing period in December. That’s allowed the Irish to push for a potential change of heart from recruits who could fill needs in their 2018 class. Notre Dame already has signed two recruits who were previously committed elsewhere: defensive back Houston Griffith (Florida State) and wide receiver Braden Lenzy (Oregon).

Notre Dame has room for a few more recruits with 21 already signed in December. Offensive lineman Luke Jones, a former Arkansas pledge, has also continued to stick to his verbal commitment to the Irish. Jones received an in-home visit Wednesday night from head coach Brian Kelly and new offensive line coach Jeff Quinn.

Any of the three visitors expected this weekend could help fill the remaining holes for Notre Dame.

The biggest gap on Notre Dame’s depth chart has formed at running back with the recent dismissals of sophomore Deon McIntosh and freshman C.J. Holmes. The Irish added three-star recruit Jahmir Smith as a mid-year enrollee earlier this month, but he became only the third scholarship running back on the roster behind junior Dexter Williams and sophomore Tony Jones Jr.

Looking to address the obvious need at running back, the Irish extended an offer to Flemister last week. 

The 6-foot, 192-pound back has been committed to Georgia Tech since early December, but he made an official visit to Tennessee shortly after that pledge. The two-star recruit previously flipped his commitment from Georgia Southern to Georgia Tech.

Flemister hasn’t emerged as a national recruit, but running backs coach Autry Denson has clearly identified him as the top remaining option for the Irish. Flemister rushed for 1,771 yards and 24 touchdowns on 245 carries in his senior season at Zebulon (Ga.) Pike County. 247Sports slates him as the No. 143 running back in the 2018 class.

The potential to flip Eason appears much more uncertain. Since committing to N.C. State in July, little has changed in his recruitment. Yet when Notre Dame offered him last week, he decided to set up a visit this weekend.

The three-star recruit could be paired with Justin Ademilola, the only defensive end to sign with Notre Dame in the 2018 class. Eason, a 6-4, 242-pound product of Norfolk (Va.) Norview, has been recruited by defensive line coach Mike Elston. 247Sports slates Eason as the No. 55 strongside defensive end in the 2018 class.

Elston has been selective with late offers at defensive end. He made a visit to Houston’s Alief Taylor High School, the home of undecided three-star defensive end Joseph Ogunbanjo, on Thursday as he continues to evaluate options.

Notre Dame’s pursuit of Brown predates both Flemister and Eason. The Irish extended an offer in November which led to the three-star recruit scheduling a visit in December. But that visit was scratched around the same time the Irish added a commitment from Tariq Bracy and were still serious contenders for Kyler Gordon, Julius Irvin and Noah Boykin.

Since then, Gordon signed with Washington, and Irvin and Boykin have started trending with other programs. Meanwhile, the Irish maintained contact with Brown to keep him as an option. The Virginia commit is set to arrive at Notre Dame on Sunday following an official visit to Northwestern.

The 6-1, 183-pound Brown has seen his recruitment explode following the Notre Dame offer. Clemson, Ohio State, Louisville and Nebraska are among the teams to join his offer list in the last two months.

Brown will reunite with former Washington (D.C.) St. John’s College High teammate Kofi Wardlow, a freshman defensive end at Notre Dame, when he visits the Irish.

Rivals ranks Brown, an Under Armour All-American, as the No. 67 cornerback in the class. 247Sports slates him No. 69.

The Irish will also host several targets in the 2019 class on Saturday. A full preview of the junior day will be on NDInsider.com Friday.

tjames@ndinsider.com

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Twitter: @TJamesNDI

Virginia cornerback commit DJ Brown, a 2018 recruit, is scheduled to make an official visit to Notre Dame starting Sunday. (Photo courtesy of Rivals)