Persistence helped Notre Dame land four-star CB Isaiah Rutherford

Carter Karels
South Bend Tribune

Football recruit Isaiah Rutherford’s top four potential college destinations late in the summer did not include Notre Dame.

Yet, three months later, on Saturday, the Carmichael (Calif.) Jesuit cornerback announced he will be joining the Irish in 2019.

From Sac to South Bend.... 100% Committed

— Isaiah Rutherford (@zay_rutherford) October 14, 2018

Head coach Brian Kelly appeared to celebrate Rutherford's decision following Notre Dame's 19-14 victory over Pittsburgh. 


— Brian Kelly (@CoachBrianKelly) October 14, 2018

Notre Dame coaches Todd Lyght and Brian Polian did not call it quits on Rutherford. The Irish ramped up their pursuit, inspiring Rutherford to take an official visit for the Sept. 1 Michigan game.

Rutherford’s top four — which he later deleted on Twitter — comprised of LSU, Oklahoma, California and Oregon. He included Notre Dame in his June 17 top seven. His final decision came down to Notre Dame, Colorado, California and Oregon.

"Notre Dame was not really in the mix back then but came onto him later," said CBS Sports Network recruiting analyst Tom Lemming. "When Notre Dame puts the full-court press on you, it is very impressive.”

The 2018-19 classes could be coach Brian Kelly’s best back-to-back defensive back hauls. He inked four-stars Houston Griffith, Derrik Allen and Noah Boykin last year. Rutherford marks the fourth 2019 four-star DB to verbally pledge. Kyle Hamilton, Litchfield Ajavon and K.J. Wallace committed before the summer.

The 6-foot-2, 170-pound Rutherford could become the best of the group.

“He’s as good as anybody they have brought in in the past three or four years in the secondary,” Lemming said.

247Sports rated Rutherford as a four-star and as the nation’s No. 23 cornerback, while Rivals gave him four stars and slated him at No. 9. After watching him in person, Lemming bumped his personal rating of Rutherford to five stars.

Reynard Rutherford, Isaiah’s father, starred at running back for the University of California from 1992-95. Isaiah flashed his own talent as a junior, rushing for 1,468 yards and 17 touchdowns on 169 carries. Notre Dame offered the younger Rutherford in August 2017.

“He’s got terrific length, size and bloodlines. The skills are certainly there,” Lemming said. “It always comes down to work ethic once they get to college, and no one knows until they get there on how it will work out. But he’s got all the tools to become an All-American at Notre Dame.”

Isaiah RutherfordFour-star cornerback Isaiah Rutherford, a 2019 recruit, made a Sept. 1 official visit to Notre Dame.