Notebook: With no Deal, Notre Dame left with limited tight end options in 2019 class

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

Notre Dame's tight end recruiting took a bleak turn in the past week.

The string of bad news culminated with four-star recruit Luke Deal, the No. 9 tight end in the 2019 class per 247Sports, committing to Auburn on Friday night. The Irish had hosted Deal, a junior at Greenwood (S.C.) Emerald, for an official visit in April.

Deal became the first recruit in the 2019 class to make an official visit to Notre Dame and commit elsewhere. Four-star defensive end NaNa Osafo-Mensah and four-star offensive lineman Quinn Carroll both committed to the Irish after making official visits in April. Defensive end Colt Ellison and linebacker Osita Ekwonu also made official visits to Notre Dame, but neither has made a commitment decision yet.

The misfortune at tight end started earlier in the week when Ethan Rae, the No. 14 tight end in the 2019 class per 247Sports, left the Irish off his top 10 list Tuesday. Oregon, TCU, Colorado, Alabama, USC, Arizona State, Ole Miss, Penn State, UCLA and Florida made the cut, but Notre Dame didn't.

Rae, a junior at Orange (Calif.) Lutheran, made an unofficial visit to Notre Dame in April.

To make matters worse, Hunter Henry, the No. 1 tight end in the class, excluded Notre Dame from his top five, unveiled on Friday. The junior at Little Rock (Ark.) Pulaski Academy included Wisconsin, Clemson, Penn State, Stanford and Arkansas on his list.

Henry, who attends the same school as incoming Irish offensive lineman Luke Jones, visited Notre Dame in January.

With all three of the previously mentioned tight ends looking elsewhere, where does that leave the Irish at the position?

Only one tight end who has already visited Notre Dame appears to still have the Irish in consideration: Jude Wolfe. The 6-foot-6, 244-pound product of Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco visited Notre Dame in January.

That visit helped land the Irish on Wolfe's top eight in March. USC, Michigan, UCLA, Ohio State, Washington, Oregon and Alabama also made the list. 247Sports slates Wolfe as the No. 3 tight end in the 2019 class.

With options at tight end shrinking this week, Notre Dame offered Erick All on Monday. The 6-4, 214-pound recruit caught 28 passes for 338 yards and three touchdowns in his junior season at Fairfield (Ohio) High.

247Sports slates All as a three-star recruit and the No. 22 tight end in the class.

If the Irish are determined on adding a tight end in the 2019 class, more offers will likely be coming. Notre Dame signed a pair of tight ends in the previous two classes: George Takacs and Tommy Tremble in 2018, and Brock Wright and Cole Kmet in 2017.

Track titles

A pair of Notre Dame signees in the 2018 class finished their careers with state championships in track and field.

Wide receiver Braden Lenzy, who plans to run track for the Irish, took home a state title in the 400-meter relay for Class 6A in Oregon last weekend. His final push as the anchor leg gave his Tigard High teammates a winning time of 41.68 seconds.

Lenzy came up short in his other three races. He finished second in the 200 (21.57), 400 (47.52) and 1,600 relay (3:18.11). In the 400, a race in which Lenzy was the two-time defending champ, Lenzy was edged by .07 seconds.

Defensive tackle Ja'mion Franklin won his first Class 2A state title in Maryland on Thursday with a shot put throw of 55-feet, 9.5 inches. He completed the throwing sweep with a discus championship title Saturday. His throw of 154-4 inches was three inches better than the second-place toss.

More missed targets

Three Notre Dame targets listing the Irish as finalists committed elsewhere in the past week: linebacker Brandon Smith, and cornerbacks Salim Turner-Muhammad and Jeremiah Criddell.

Smith, a four-star recruit from Mineral (Va.) Louisa County, announced his commitment to Penn State on Monday. He made an unofficial visit to Notre Dame in April.

247Sports slates Smith as the No. 2 inside linebacker in the 2019 class. Rivals ranks him as the No. 5 weakside defensive end.

Turner-Muhammad, a high school teammate of Notre Dame safety pledge Litchfield Ajavon at Alexandria (Va.) Episcopal, shared his commitment to Stanford on Sunday. He made an unofficial visit to Notre Dame in March.

247Sports slates Turner-Muhammad as the No. 16 cornerback in the 2019 class. Rivals ranks him No. 34 at the position. Both rate him as a four-star recruit.

Criddell, a four-star recruit at Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei, committed to Oregon on Sunday. He received an Irish offer in September, but Criddell never visited campus.

Rivals ranks Criddell as the No. 9 cornerback in the 2019 class. 247Sports slates him 10th.

Notre Dame offensive coordinator Chip Long received a second tight end commitment in the 2020 class on Sunday when four-star recruit Michael Mayer announced his Irish pledge.