Notebook: Notre Dame cashes in on Michigan weekend

Carter Karels | South Bend Tribune
ND Insider

It was only a matter of time before Notre Dame offered 2021 prospects Garrett Dellinger and Jack Sawyer.

The two blue-chippers took unofficial visits for last Saturday’s Michigan game and left with offers.

Dellinger rates as a four-star and is the top-ranked offensive tackle and No. 2 overall player, per 247Sports. Sawyer also rates as a four star on 247Sports, which ranked him as the best strong side defensive end and No. 3 overall player.

“They are not guys that you bring to the rest of the staff and say, ‘What do you think?’ They are almost instant impact players,” said Tom Lemming, a CBS Sports Network recruiting analyst.

Clarkston (Mich.) High’s Dellinger, a 6-6, 250-pounder, excels at defensive end and offensive tackle. His versatility earned interest from Irish offensive line coach Jeff Quinn and defensive line coach Mike Elston.

Dellinger also has received offers from Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State. For high school, Dellinger will likely be an All-American on both sides. Lemming said Dellinger might prefer playing defense in college.

“Dellinger to me is a five-star prospect. I think he’s that good,” Lemming said. “I think he’s a Joey Bosa type of an athlete. Very athletic, tough, really instinctive.”

Pickerington (Ohio) North’s Sawyer amassed 58 tackles, 16.5 for loss, 3.5 sacks and one interception as a freshman last season. Elston has handled most of Sawyer’s recruitment thus far. Sawyer also has received offers from Michigan, Ohio State, Michigan State and Penn State.

“They should have offered him earlier,” Lemming said of Notre Dame. “Sawyer is a no-brainer. He’s another guy who might end up as a five-star player. I think he’s got that kind of ability.”

Sawyer wasn’t invited to coach Brian Kelly’s lake house for tubing. The game’s atmosphere caught his attention, though.

“What stood out to me the most about my visit would probably be how electric the fans were the whole game,” Sawyer wrote in a text. “The stadium was rocking the entire time.”

NFL Impact

While waiting in line at the bookstore, 2019 commit K.J. Wallace noticed a familiar face. Standing a few spots behind him was Justin Tuck, a former Irish defensive lineman who appeared in two Pro Bowls for the New York Giants.

Tuck took delight in Wallace’s interest and accepted his offer to cut in front of him. The two then chatted for almost 40 minutes.

“It was probably one of the best conversations I’ve had with anybody — with any pro football player,” Wallace said. “We just talked about his experience at the school, what it was like afterwards and why I made the right choice.”

Tuck was one of many former and current NFL players who visited for the Michigan game. Jaylon Smith, Manti Te’o, DeShone Kizer, Quenton Nelson, Equanimeous St. Brown, Matthias Farley, Chris Watt and Ronnie Stanley were seen on the field.

“I talked to Manti Te’o for a little bit,” said 2019 commit Kyle Hamilton. “I saw him on the field and just asked to take a picture. I was talking to him about how I’m committed. He was just like, ‘Welcome to the family. There’s no place like Notre Dame. I hope you have a great time there.’”

While DeShone Kizer mauled quarterback Brandon Wimbush after the game, it was the recruits who were seeking out each NFL player. Kalel Mullings, a 2020 target, tweeted a picture of himself with Smith.

Wallace — a cornerback rated as a four-star on Rivals and 247Sports — sought out Smith, Te’o and Kizer following the game. Hamilton, a four-star safety on Rivals and 247Sports, felt starstruck by Te’o.

“But by just talking to him a little more, I could tell that he’s just a normal, good guy,” Hamilton said. “It was kind of cool to see that, because it doesn’t get much better than him for Notre Dame football alums. Just seeing that he’s a guy that you can just sit down and talk to like any normal guy, that’s kind of cool.”

Foskey’s Top Five

Notre Dame appeared in the latest top five of 2019 target Isaiah Foskey, a four-star recruit per Rivals and 247Sports.

Concord (Calif.) De La Salle’s Foskey, a 6-5, 233-pound tight end, caught nine passes for 194 yards and three touchdowns as a sophomore last season.

“He’s got great hands, he runs well and also has the length and everything,” Lemming said. “He’s another one who is either going to play defensive end or tight end.”

Rivals ranks Foskey as the No. 6 tight end and No. 133 overall player. 247Sports evaluates him as the No. 14 tight end and No. 270 overall player.

Lemming compared Foskey to Anthony Fasano, an NFL tight end who caught 92 passes for 1,112 yards and eight touchdowns across three years (2003-05) with the Irish.

“He kind of has that toughness, strong hands,” Lemming said. “He’s a good blocker and does everything asked of him. He’s not quite the athlete that Kyle Rudolph or Tyler Eifert were, but he’s a bit more of a tough, hard-nosed all-around tight end who can run-block and catch.”

Garrett Dellinger, a 2021 Notre Dame recruit, arrives to the player walk before last week’s game against Michigan.
Notre Dame DE prospect Jack Sawyer, a 2021 recruit, arrives to the player walk before the Irish met Michigan last week.