WR recruit T.J. Sheffield no longer in Notre Dame's 2019 class

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

Turns out the lack of a "#WeAreND" tweet from Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly wasn't accidental.

In the hours after wide receiver T.J. Sheffield announced his commitment to Notre Dame last Friday, Kelly's Twitter account was silent. There was no tweet celebrating the addition of a new pledge to the Irish as is his typical signal.

An explanation came Wednesday in a written tweet from Sheffield. Sheffield stated he received a call from Notre Dame wide receivers coach DelVaughn Alexander saying that Notre Dame wasn't going to honor his commitment. As a result, Sheffield's back on the market.

The Irish once again have 17 commitments in the 2019 class with three-star recruit Cam Hart as the only wide receiver in the group. Notre Dame has been recruiting other receivers in the class, but most of them are bigger than the 5-foot-10, 170-pound Sheffield.

Notre Dame's coaches are prevented by NCAA rules from commenting on specific recruits, but a look at Notre Dame's wide receiver depth chart and 2019 targets could explain the lack of interest in Sheffield.

Notre Dame has signed two wide receivers in the last two classes listed shorter than 6-foot tall: Michael Young (5-10) in 2017 and Lawrence Keys III (5-11) in 2018. Perhaps the Irish don't find it necessary to add another undersized receiver so soon. 

With Cornelius Johnson (6-3) and Genson Hooper-Price (6-5) remaining as two of Notre Dame's top targets at wide receiver, size appears to be a priority.

247Sports slates Sheffield as a four-star recruit and the No. 38 wide receiver in the 2019 class. Rivals rates him as a three-star recruit and the No. 56 wide receiver.

In his junior season at Thompson's Station (Tenn.) Independence, Sheffield caught 56 passes for 840 yards and five touchdowns and rushed 24 times for 119 yards and one touchdown. He also has run a 100-meter dash in 10.78 seconds.

Regardless of Notre Dame's reasoning for not wanting Sheffield, the miscommunication reflects poorly on the Irish. As Sheffield said in his statement on Twitter, Alexander didn't make it clear that the Irish weren't willing to take his commitment when he called Friday.

That was only clarified five days later, according to Sheffield.

"I completely accept Notre Dame's decision as God's will for me and know that God has an open door that no man can shut," Sheffield wrote as part of his statement. "Thanks again to Notre Dame for considering me as a possibility for their program."

Because scholarship offers and commitments are not binding until a National Letter of Intent is signed, it falls on Notre Dame's coaching staff to clearly communicate any recruitment changes with a prospect. Sheffield initially received an offer from Notre Dame in January, and he visited two weeks later. He hasn't returned to campus since then.

After he committed last week, Sheffield told the Tribune he planned to make official visits to Purdue and Ohio State. But on Sunday, Sheffield tweeted that he would forego other visits to stick with the Irish.

Below is Sheffield's full statement:

— Tj Sheffield (@the_tj2) July 11, 2018

Wide receiver T.J. Sheffield said he learned Wednesday that Notre Dame wouldn’t honor the verbal commitment he announced last Friday.